Have you Heard of Jackfruit Yet?
Jackfruit is a species of tree in the fig and mulberry family that originated in India. It typically grows in tropical and near-tropical conditions, and it produces huge fruit that averages around 10-25 pounds. Even though it’s been grown and eaten all over the world, it’s popped up all over the place in the US recently. It’s growing in popularity particularly as a plant-based alternative to meat. The unripe fruits soak up flavor really well, and have that stringy texture that’s similar to pulled BBQ meats.
What Does it Taste Like?
The fruits are kind of wild looking (nothing like anything else I’ve seen), but don’t let that put you off. It’s incredibly tasty. When it’s ripe and raw, it has a sweet taste that compares to other fruits like bananas, pineapples, or mangos. Unripe jackfruit works better in savory dishes, because it has a less sweet, neutral flavor similar to that of a potato. It is mild, and can soak up the flavors from herbs and spices, which makes it so brilliant for plant-based meat alternatives to foods like pulled pork and shredded chicken.
Because of this, you have probably seen jackfruit popping up on menus all over. Of anything, jackfruit tacos and jackfruit BBQ tend to be the most popular ways people are preparing it in the US.
Health Benefits of Jackfruit
Although it’s grown in popularity in the US as a great meat alternative due to its texture, it’s also a really healthy food packed full of nutrients. It’s been called a “miracle food” and a “superfood” because it provides so many important nutrients.
Here are just a few of the benefits of jackfruit:
- Contains vitamin B6 and complex carbs, which can boost your energy.
- Contains vitamin C to help fight illnesses and free radicals.
- Contains calcium, which can help strengthen bones, but also contains magnesium that helps the body absorb calcium, and contains potassium to help prevent the loss of calcium.
- Potassium also helps regulate blood pressure, and reduces the risk of stroke or heart attack.
- Contains fiber, to help improve digestion, prevent constipation and bloating, and help you feel more full
- Jackfruit may even help prevent cancer, because it contains phytonutrients, which have been found to have anti-cancer properties.
Trying Jackfruit BBQ
So, what are you waiting for? You will most likely find it in cans, but you may also be able to find it whole in some stores. It also comes, frozen, dried, sliced into sections, just to name a few. But if you want to test it out as a plant-based meat alternative, canned jackfruit will be the easiest to work with. You can find it packed in syrup, brine, or water. You’ll want to find young, green jackfruit in water preferably, but jackfruit in brine would also work. Check around in specialty markets, like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, or Sprouts. You can also check out local Asian or Indian grocers, who might be more likely to carry it.