This large, odd-looking fruit is all the rage among foodies who are looking to cut back on their meat intake. But can a fruit really fool our taste buds into thinking we’re biting into a big juicy steak? Those who have tried jackfruit (myself included) claim that the taste and texture is similar to that of pulled pork.
Although the fruit can have a strong, pungent smell, it tastes much better than its natural scent would let on. I tried a store-bought jackfruit product because living in the Midwest sometimes prohibits me — much to my chagrin — from having access to less common, “new” ingredients in their unadulterated, raw form. Luckily there is a Whole Foods near me, and I purchased Chili Lime Carnitas Jackfruit by Upton’s Naturals.
Let me tell you — this was DELICIOUS! I quickly seared the jackfruit in a small skillet and used them in tacos with all the usual fixings. Along with enormous flavor, the product boasts an impressively short ingredient list: jackfruit, onion, chili, vinegar, lime, evaporated cane juice, sea salt, garlic, black pepper, cumin, coriander.
As for all you calorie counters out there, the stats are amazing:
Serving Size: 2.65 oz (75 g)
Servings Per Container: 4
Calories Per Serving: 35
Calories From Fat: 0
Total Fat: 0 g
Saturated Fat: 0 g
Trans Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 290 mg
Potassium: 110 mg
Carbohydrate: 7 g
Dietary Fiber: 4 g
Sugars: 2 g
Protein: 1 g
This ginormous fruit is not native to the United States — it grows primarily in South Asia. If you’re lucky, you may be able to find it whole, but it is also sold sliced or packaged.
One jackfruit can actually contain hundreds (some even have thousands) of petite, yellowish bulbs (also called pods or fruit lobes) and each of these bulbs houses a large, nutrient-packed seed. The flesh of the jackfruit is a good source of the antioxidant vitamin C, and the seeds are rich sources of calcium, iron, potassium, and protein. This nutrient powerhouse yields about 95 calories per a half-cup serving.
This interesting-looking fruit is comprised of hundreds to thousands of tiny flowers fused together. Depending on what stage of maturity the jackfruit is harvested at, it’ll provide both a different taste and a different texture. You can enjoy the actual fruit of the plant — the fleshy petals that are around the seed. You can eat the ripe jackfruit (soft and fruity tasting) or unripe (it will be similar to a potato).
Easy to Cultivate & Environmentally-Friendly
Although it takes a while for a jackfruit tree to become established and eventually bear fruit (about five to seven years), once it starts producing fruit the plant itself is incredibly prolific and easy to take care of. A single jackfruit tree can actually produce upwards of 150 jackfruits throughout the year (there are two harvest seasons per year). Remarkably, one jackfruit tree can generally yield two to three TONS of fruit each year.
The jackfruit plant is a perennial, meaning it does not need to be replanted each year. Additionally, unlike staple crops such as rice, wheat, or corn, the jackfruit tree is not as burdensome on Mother Earth because it does not require a great deal of pesticides or irrigation, thus saving resources and avoiding causing environmental damage.
Now Eat It!
You can eat the jackfruit fresh, or enjoy it roasted or dried and added to stews, soups, frozen treats, or beverages. Oftentimes the seeds are relished like nuts — roasted, boiled, or ground up into a flour. Since cooked jackfruit naturally has a very meaty consistency, it can be used in place of many meats. There is a plethora of ways to savor jackfruit — blend some into your favorite smoothie, juice it for a quick nutritious beverage, freeze pureed jackfruit and serve it in place of ice cream, dry it and use it in place of raisins in a trail mix, bake it into chips, cook green jackfruit (slow and low) in a crockpot to make meatless carnitas tacos, or make a filling stew of slowly-simmered green jackfruit curry.
[Image via Shutterstock]