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What Is Jackfruit?
Jackfruit, from the Portuguese ‘jaca’, is the fruit produced by the jackfruit tree, a relative of breadfruit, mulberry, and fig trees. This large tropical fruit has green, bumpy skin on the outside and yellow, fibrous flesh inside. The largest tree-borne fruit in the world, jackfruit can grow up to three-feet long and reach one hundred pounds. Jackfruit primarily grows in India and throughout Southeast Asia.
What Does Jackfruit Taste Like?
Raw, ripe jackfruit tastes like other sweet, fibrous fruits like pineapple or mango. When eaten unripe, green jackfruit has more of a bland taste. Unripe jackfruit is the perfect addition to savory dishes like soups or curries to soak up the flavors or function as a vegan meat substitute. When cooked, jackfruit has a meaty texture and has been compared to pulled pork. The edible seeds have a flavor similar to macadamia or brazil nuts and can be boiled or roasted.
Where to Find Jackfruit
Jackfruit is native to southwest India. The trees, which can produce 100 to 200 jackfruits a year, grow well in tropical climates and are now grown in the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, and Bangladesh, where jackfruit is the national fruit. Jackfruit is also harvested in parts of Africa and Brazil. In the United States it can grow in Florida and Hawaii.
To find jackfruit locally, Asian markets or natural-foods stores like Whole Foods are your best bets. Jackfruit is often sold fresh as a whole fruit, frozen, or canned in syrup, water, or brine.
How to Cut Jackfruit: Step-by-Step Guide
Looking at a jackfruit, it can be hard to determine just how to start cutting into it. Removing all of the fruit is a labor intensive process, but it’s manageable if you follow the proper steps:
- Prepare a clean surface. Jackfruit has a sticky, white latex sap, so you’ll want to handle it on a surface that is easy to clean. It’s a good idea to lay a sheet of plastic wrap down first. Wear gloves and oil your knife to keep it from getting gummed up with sap.
- Quarter the jackfruit. Cut the jackfruit in half lengthwise, then cut each piece in half again so you have four pieces.
- Remove the core. The white core at the center of the jackfruit is too tough to eat, so you’ll want to slice it off each of your quarters.
- Remove the seeds and set them aside. They can be roasted later for a healthy snack.
- Remove the fruit pods. Bend each piece of jackfruit so the fruits separate from the fibrous flesh.
- Clean the fruit pods. Remove any fibrous pulp that clings to the fruit pods.
6 Ways to Eat Jackfruit
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Not sure what to do with a jackfruit? Jackfruit’s versatility is its claim to fame. It can be incorporated into both sweet and savory dishes, or simply enjoyed right out of the skin. Plus, it’s packed with fiber, antioxidants, vitamin A and vitamin C, so it’s good for you, too. Here are six ways to eat a jackfruit.
- Fresh and raw: Ripe jackfruit is sweet and fibrous, similar to a mango. Once you know how to cut into it and get to the fruit, enjoy!
- As a mix-in: Add raw jackfruit to a bowl of ice cream or yogurt to add a healthy, sweet flavor. Make a jackfruit salsa or add it to a salad.
- Soups and stir fries: The hearty texture of jackfruit makes it the perfect ingredient for main dishes like curry. Add the jackfruit before it’s ripe so it soaks up the spicy flavors.
- Smoothies: Toss fresh ripe jackfruit into a blender with yogurt and other fruits for a sweet smoothie.
- Jackfruit seeds: The seeds are another edible part of the fruit with great health benefits. They can be boiled or seasoned with salt and roasted.
- Meat substitute: Young unripe jackfruit has thick, stringy flesh that creates a meat-like texture when cooked. It’s a great vegan alternative for barbacoa tacos or pulled pork sandwiches.
How to Make Jackfruit Tacos Recipe
Look for young, unripe fruit, or buy canned jackfruit in water or brine. Shred the jackfruit into pieces, like shredding cooked chicken, then sauté the fruit up a pan with a little oil and seasonings like cumin, chili powder, salt, garlic, and onion. Spoon it out onto soft taco shells. Top with cilantro, avocado, cheese, and red onion. While jackfruit has plenty of health benefits, it has a lot less protein than meat. When you’re using it as a meat substitute, add ingredients with protein—like rice and beans—to get your recommended daily allowance.
How to Make BBQ Pulled Jackfruit Sandwiches Recipe
- Sauté young jackfruit in onions and garlic for ten minutes, or until slightly golden.
- Place in a slow cooker and cover in barbecue sauce.
- For homemade sauce, simply mix ketchup, worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, and paprika.
- Cook for six hours until the jackfruit shreds easily.
- Place on a bun and serve with slaw.
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