Jackfruit: The rockstar no-soy stand-in for meat, poultry and fish
If you’re trying to cut down (or remove) animal protein and want to avoid soy-based meat analogs, you’ve got to check out jackfruit. What is jackfruit? It is a tropical, tree-based fruit. When eaten young—before it is fully mature—it makes a fantastic stand-in for meat, poultry and fish, readily taking on any seasoning you want to toss at it. Jackfruit pulled pork, jackfruit meatballs, jackfruit fish tacos, jackfruit curry—it seems there is no recipe that jackfruit can’t take on.
Just as important, jackfruit is good for you. A cup of canned jackfruit (the most common way to find the fruit) contains only 155 calories only 0.5 of a gram of fat. It is rich in three types of phytonutrients, lingnans, isoflavones and saponins. These highly antioxidant compounds protect the body against inflammation, cancer and aging. Studies—including one on the herpes virus—have found that jackfruit exhibits antimicrobial and antiviral abilities. A cup of jackfruit also contains a moderate amount of other nutrients, including:
2.4 grams protein
2.6 grams fiber
11.1 milligrams vitamin C (18 percent DV)
0.3 milligrams manganese (16 percent DV)
0.3 milligram copper (15 percent DV)
61.1 milligrams magnesium (15 percent DV)
500 milligrams potassium (14 percent DV)
0.2 milligram riboflavin (11 percent DV)
490 IU vitamin A (10 percent DV)
0.2 milligram vitamin B6 (9 percent DV)
23.1 micrograms folate (6 percent DV)
56.1 milligrams calcium (6 percent DV)
1 milligram iron (6 percent DV)
59.4 milligrams phosphorus (6 percent DV)
0.7 milligram zinc (5 percent DV)
Easy ways to use jackfruit
—Toss it into your sauté pan with your favorite pre-made sauce—from a curry simmer sauce to jarred marinara to a can of enchilada sauce. If you’d like, add whatever herbs and veggies make sense. And serve over quinoa or whatever grain you’d like!
—Toss it with salsa and spoon over organic tortilla chips for fast nachos.
—Replace the ground beef, ground turkey or sausage, in any recipe with canned young jackfruit (pulse it a few times in your food processor to give it a ground meat texture). It makes awesome vegan meatballs.
—Use jackfruit to extend the meat you do use. Replace up to half the ground meat, poultry or fish in any recipe with an equal amount of jackfruit.
Makes enough for two sandwiches
Many of us grew up eating tuna-salad sandwiches. I know I did! But these days, we’re more aware of the effects of overfishing, as well as the high mercury levels in tuna, so many of us no longer eat the stuff. If that is you, then this recipe is for you. It has the same texture as tuna salad, is a bit milder in flavor, and is vegan. It’s also easy!
1.5 to 2 cups canned or vacuum-packed jackfruit, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons (or more, if you’d like) coconut cream or coconut milk or yogurt or mayo
1 or 2 tablespoons mustard (brown, Dijon, or any other type)
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley (or try dill or cilantro)
¼ cup finely chopped red onion
¼ cup finely chopped celery
¼ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Add the rinsed, drained jackfruit to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a couple times until it resembles chunky canned tuna. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together coconut cream (or whatever you choose to use), mustard and parsley.
3. Add red onion, celery, and chopped red bell pepper to the bowl. Stir to combine.
4. Add the jackfruit to the bowl and fold gently to combine.
5. Add salt and pepper to taste.
6. Eat on lettuce leaves or use as a dip or a sandwich filling.
Interesting facts about jackfruit
—The scientific name of the jackfruit tree that produces jackfruit is Artocarpus heterophyllus.
— The jackfruit tree is a member of the family Moraceae, and is related to breadfruit, figs and mulberries.
—Jackfruit is thought to originate in the Southwestern rainforests of India and today is cultivated throughout Southeast Asia.
—The jackfruit is Bangladesh’s national fruit.
—Jackfruit are also grown in Southeast Asia, Brazil, and in parts of Africa.
—An individual jackfruit can grow as big as 110 pounds, though most are around 25 pounds.
—Jackfruits are known as the largest fruit produced by a tree.
—Unripe jackfruit has a meaty texture and mild taste, which make it a great stand-in for pork, poultry and fish.
—Mature jackfruit has a fruit flavor that some people compare to a blend of apple, pineapple and banana. Others say it tastes like that childhood favorite, Juicyfruit gum. Mature jackfruit is often dried and enjoyed as a dried fruit.
—The fruits contain an extremely sticky latex, which gets everywhere. Before cutting into jackfruit, oil your hands, cutting boards, knives and other surfaces. This will make cleanup easier.
—While jackfruit is available fresh, it is hard to work with, which is why most people prefer using canned or vacuum sealed jackfruit.
—Jackfruit is mostly water, with about 8% naturally-occurring sugar and 4% starch.
—Each jackfruit tree produces from 100 to 500 individual fruits.
—Ripe jackfruits have an unpleasant, musky aroma.
—Jackfruit’s seeds are also eaten. They are roasted and have a flavor and texture similar to chestnuts.
—Roasted jackfruit seeds are often ground into flour.
—The wood of jackfruit trees is used in construction, for furniture and musical instruments.
— Jackfruit wood is used in royal palaces in Bali and for temples in Vietnam.
Native Forest Organic Young Jackfruit, Vegan Meat Replacement. Canned jackfruit is an easy way to take advantage of this hearty fruit—and for many of us, the only way we are going to have the opportunity to try it. This is young jackfruit, which is picked before the fruit has developed it’s sweetness, making it a great replacement for tofu, as well shredded pork and chicken in tacos, pulled pork, and any other dish.
Edward & Sons Young Jackfruit, vacuum packed pouches. Another unsweetened, young jackfruit, this one without the can. Use as-is in all kinds of recipes where you’d normally use tofu, chicken or pork.
Upton’s Naturals Jackfruit – Chili Lime Carnitas. This vegan, shelf-stable, ready-to-use meatless alternative to carnitas is out-of-this-world delicious and super convenient. I keep a few pouches of this around for those times when I want delicious Mexican food, but just don’t have the energy to make carnitas from scratch.
Upton’s Naturals Jackfruit – Bbq Flavor. If you’re not into carnitas, or have a hankering for vegan bbq, Upton’s also makes a barbecue-flavored jackfruit.
Mavuno Harvest Fair Trade Organic Dried Fruit, Jackfruit . Dried mature jackfruit is slightly sweet, making it a great option when you want to snack on dried fruit.
Republic of Tea Adventurer’s Tea: Jackfruit Honey. This lovely, slightly sweet, tea blends black tea with the full-bodied taste of jackfruit and honey. I love this in the early afternoon as a quick pick-me-up.