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What Is Jackfruit, and How Do You Cook With It?

What Is Jackfruit, and How Do You Cook With It?

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If you've noticed a large, green fruit in your produce section, it may be jackfruit. Jackfruit grows readily in warm climates and is being looked to as a solution for eating greener, and cleaner, in the coming years. Plus, it shreds easily, making it a meatless substitution for pulled pork or on nachos.

If you haven't heard of or tried this newly popular southeast Asian fruit yet, prepare to be amazed. Jackfruit can be cooked while unripe in curries and sauces or while ripe by adding it to desserts, making it one of the most versatile fruits on the market. Its texture shreds easily, making it a natural meatless addition to tacos, nachos, salads, and even imitation pulled pork sandwiches. Vegetarians, vegans, and those wanting the texture of pork without the ridiculous calories it brings can all rejoice!

Eating healthy should still be delicious.

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Get the Recipe: Jackfruit Tostadas

Where Can I Buy It?

Slowly but surely getting easier to find, canned jackfruit is available in most Asian grocery stores and some health food stores. When buying jackfruit, skip the gigantic fresh ones and stick to canned. Be sure to choose a type labeled "young jackfruit in brine" because some jackfruit is canned in sugary syrup.

How do I Prep It?

When you're ready to cook jackfruit, drain and rinse the jackfruit. It has a hard core that needs to be cut off and thrown away, leaving you with the soft (easily shreddable) edges.

Using your fingers or two forks, finely shred the jackfruit until it resembles pulled chicken or pork.

Ways to Use Jackfruit

You can actually eat the jackfruit once it's shredded, but for the best texture we recommend heating it for several minutes in a pan over medium-high heat to evaporate excess moisture. Then toss in whatever sauce you'd like. The possibilities are endless, but here we went simple with some barbecue sauce. Try tossing cooked jackfruit in curries, adding an array of spices, or stirring into marinara for a meatier spaghetti sauce, without the meat.

Nutrition Benefits

Jackfruit doesn't have any real nutritional benefits besides being a very low calorie alternative to meat, so be sure to pair it with a good source of protein. For example, we threw ours on top of a baked sweet potato with cooked spinach. Vegetarians would benefit from a dollop of plain Greek yogurt atop, and vegans might enjoy a spoonful of hummus instead.

Get the Recipe: Vegan Loaded BBQ Nachos

Below is the nutritional break down for a serving of jackfruit from one can of Aroy-D brand (with no sauce or accompaniments). Most cans (depending on how big the inedible core is) contain about 1 cup of usable jackfruit, which comes out to two servings:

SERVES: 2 CALORIES 70; FAT 3.5 g (sat 0g); PROTEIN 0g; CARB 7g; FIBER 1.5g; SUGARS 0g; CHOL 0mg; SODIUM 298mg

Here&rsquos Exactly How to Use Jackfruit

If you&rsquove been trying to eat less meat, you&rsquore probably already super-familiar with ways to use ingredients like tofu and seitan. But you may have started seeing another ingredient popping up a lot lately: jackfruit. A recent report from restaurant management platform Upserve that analyzed American menu items found that jackfruit saw a 131 percent increase in popularity in 2017. This tropical fruit, often grown in India and southeast Asia, has a texture that can be an excellent substitute for meat.

You may have already encountered jackfruit in your supermarket: It&rsquos green, spiky-looking, and big &mdash its weight usually ranges from 15 to 50 pounds. It&rsquos a good source of potassium and also contains vitamins A and C. Just note that unlike tofu, jackfruit doesn&rsquot contain a lot of protein, so you&rsquoll want to serve it along protein-rich sides like black beans, lentils, and spinach.

When using jackfruit as a meat replacement, use the unripe variety (green, hard), not the ripe kind (yellow, soft). The texture when it's unripe is closer to the texture of meat, and it has more of a neutral taste that&rsquos good at absorbing flavorful sauces and spices. When jackfruit ripens, it develops a sweet taste, so ripe jackfruit works better in desserts. An unripe jackfruit should have a nice green color with black specks, says Maneet Chauhan, Chopped judge and founder and president of Morph Hospitality Group. A ripe fruit should have a sweet smell to it.

Not sure how to tackle this thing? You could slice off the top and bottom of the fruit with a knife, peel it, and cut it into pieces before cooking it. But consider yourself warned: It takes a lot of practice to get it right. &ldquoWorking with the whole jackfruit is daunting even to chefs!&rdquo says Dr. Uma Naidoo, a chef, culinary instructor, and the director of nutritional and lifestyle psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. "If you are new to using jackfruit, use frozen or prepackaged versions to start.&rdquo If you really want to use a fresh jackfruit, Dr. Naidoo recommends visiting a southeast Asian market, where they may also be willing to cut one up for you.

You can also find jackfruit in a can, but check the label carefully. You'll want the type that comes in water or brine, as opposed to syrup. "Rinse it well before you start preparing it so it doesn't have a metallic taste," suggest Michelle Davis and Matt Holloway, the founders of Thug Kitchen and the hosts of the podcast Forked Up.

So what can you do with it, exactly? Take a look at some of these creative ideas from culinary experts across the country.

What Is Jackfruit And How Do You Cook With It?

Even the most die-hard produce lover might be intimidated by the magnificent jackfruit. It is the largest tropical tree fruit in the world — each one can weigh up to 100 pounds. Both the flesh and juice have been used in numerous culinary applications, and modern-day preparations range from chips to ice cream to fake meat. In its green form, it’s a vegetarian’s dream, and the ripe, yellow fruit is delicious solo or in desserts. Play with jackfruit in the kitchen and surprise your guests with the fruit’s subtly sweet flavor that smacks of banana, peach, tangerine and mango.

Where It’s From

You’ll mainly find jackfruit in India, the country where it’s believed to have originated. Despite its roots, the name “jackfruit” isn’t exactly a Hindi word. Most likely the fruit got its name from the Portuguese jaca. You will also find it under the monikers chakka pazham in Southern India, kanun in Thailand and nangka in Malaysia.

Jackfruit traveled from Asia to markets in Europe around the 1700s, then made its way west after a French ship bound for Martinique was captured in 1782. This vessel ended up in Jamaica, and the plant was an instant success — it’s grown on the island today. Most of the samples you’ll find in the North American markets come from the Caribbean and occasionally Florida.

Jackfruit falls in the Artocarpus family, a group that also includes the mulberry, breadfruit and fig (which are kind of odd relatives when you think about it). After all, the mulberry and fig are such tiny things when compared to the monstrous jackfruit, and from the outside, they have almost nothing in common. When sliced, however, all of these fruits share a certain gooeyness.

The ingredient is slowly gaining popularity in the States. As more people look to replace meat in their diets, hearty fruits and vegetables that can mimic the texture of chicken or beef have started finding their places in the culinary scene. Outside forces are also trying to increase consumption of jackfruit, especially in poorer areas that need more food. Last year, in an attempt to feed more people and strike interest in this giant fruit, the University of Agricultural Sciences in Bangalore, India, held a symposium. It might not be the most popular fruit on the market, but don’t be surprised if you start seeing it more and more on menus and in grocery stores.

When It’s In Season

You can find jackfruit coming out of Florida and Jamaica in the late summer and early fall. In Asia, the season runs from mid-spring to late summer, all depending on the weather patterns.

What To Look For

Chef Rhonda Baird of Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts in Austin says the nuances of the ingredient are due to the different packaging you can get it in. Buy it whole and raw if it’s available, or you can find it pretty easily in a can. “I have personally found the young canned jackfruit in brine works best for cooking savory dishes,” says Baird. As for the fresh jackfruit, simply peel and prepare it raw. For the most part, you will find fresh jackfruit at Asian markets or at Whole Foods stores in most major cities. Canned jackfruit in brine or syrup is in most specialty shops as well as Asian, Indian and Mexican markets. Another type to look for: vacuum-packaged versions both plain and marinated.

How To Store It

Once cut, fresh jackfruit can be stored in a container in the fridge for about a week, depending on how ripe the fruit was in the first place.

How To Prepare It

“I think the best thing about cooking with jackfruit is its versatility,” says Baird. “You can use it as a pork or chicken replacement, and it holds up well to long marinating times.”

To start, if you are using packaged or canned jackfruit, rinse it really well under water and drain it completely. If you’re cutting into a fresh one, Baird suggests donning some heavy-duty gloves to protect your hands from the prickles, and make sure to have a sharp knife lubricated with coconut oil. Why coconut oil? Given that the inside of a jackfruit is extremely sticky, the oil will protect the blade. As a bonus, the small, soft seeds, which are found in both the canned and raw fruit, are totally edible, and you can cut them up with the flesh.

“I tend to make savory dishes with canned jackfruit because that’s what it lends itself to the best,” says Baird. “You could easily salt and pepper it and sauté it with a little oil, onions and garlic and add it to soup, stews or salads.”

One of the things Baird likes to do with this versatile fruit is whip up savory vegan carnitas (recipe below). “I think the texture of jackfruit looking so much like pulled pork is also a nice visual cue as to what you will be eating,” she says. “With vegan and vegetarian food, it’s a constant battle of creating not only something that tastes good, but also providing a texture profile that resembles the food you are trying to re-create.” She also uses the fruit to make “chicken” and as a “meat” in chili.

Of course, you can eat jackfruit raw, too. Fresh fruit can be firm, with a pleasing crunch to the flesh, and overall it’s not too sweet. Slice it into salad, add it as a topping to ice cream or just pop the tasty fruit in your mouth for a quick, easy and healthy snack. If you have the canned version, it also goes well on desserts or mixed with other fruits. You can use jackfruit in place of pineapple or mango it pairs with the same meats and offers a similar tropical flavor. Think kebabs, on the grill, topping a pizza or even in a casserole.

Jackfruit Carnitas

Use as a taco filling, top off a bowl of rice or stuff into a burrito. Once you have these made, you can do anything with your creation.

What is jackfruit and how to cook it

Jackfruit is making an increasing appearance on menus and social media, but if you don&rsquot know jack about jackfruit, here&rsquos Good Housekeeping's guide.

What does jackfruit look like?

Big and bumpy! Jackfruit grows in parts of Asia and is the largest fruit that can be found on a tree.

It belongs to the same family as figs and mulberries (but doesn&rsquot look or taste anything like either). Although it can grow up to a whopping metre long, it&rsquos usually around a sizeable 30cm in length.

Within its uneven green skin lies a waxy yellow flesh, that falls apart into separate bulbs when cut.

What does jackfruit taste like?

Fresh, ripe, uncooked jackfruit has a delightfully sweet, tropical flavour, somewhere between pineapple and mango (some liken it to Juicy Fruit chewing gum).

It occasionally has a savoury whiff, but this doesn&rsquot affect the flavour. Young, unripe green jackfruit &ndash usually found in tins - isn&rsquot sweet and has a neutral taste (if you&rsquove ever eaten a tinned artichoke heart straight from the can, it&rsquos a bit like that).

This version is best cooked into a savoury recipe with plenty of spices and seasoning to pep it up.

What kind of texture does jackfruit have?

When fresh and ripe, the texture is a little like pineapple, but waxier and less juicy.

Unripe, the firmer, stringy, slightly fibrous nature it possesses is why it has become a beloved vegan staple &ndash it&rsquos perfect as a substitute for pulled pork, especially because its bland flavour adapts to whatever sauce you pair it with.

How do I prepare a jackfruit?

In the UK, cutting up a fresh jackfruit is a problem you&rsquore unlikely to encounter - it&rsquos hard to find whole, unless you&rsquove got a specialist grocer in your area.

You&rsquore more likely to procure the unripe stuff already in chunks, in a can or vac pack, from the tinned fruit aisle.

In this case, drain it, rinse it (if necessary) and follow your recipe. Sometimes you can find fresh ripe jackfruit pods too, in the chilled fruit section.

However, if you do find yourself the owner of one of these huge beauties, prepare to get messy! Lay down newspaper and oil your knife. There is a large amount of latex sap in the fruit, released when you cut into it (if you have a latex allergy, this might not be the job for you), which will stick to anything it can &ndash greasing-up your utensils helps to prevent this. Cut all the way around the skin to divide it into half and then break the two halves apart (use your knife to do this if they won&rsquot come apart easily). Pull out the bulbs of flesh with oiled fingers and pop out the large seeds (these can be roasted as a snack). The fruity pods are then ready to eat, or can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple of days.

How do I make pulled jackfruit?

Just shred it! Mix your prepared fruit (the tinned/unripe version is best for this) with BBQ spices and fry it up, then slather on barbecue sauce and serve in buns with vegan slaw.

Alternatively, sizzle it with some Mexican spices, tomato paste and fresh coriander and make a filling for fajitas, tacos, burritos, quesadillas or nachos.

How else can I use tinned jackfruit?

We&rsquove already mentioned pulled jackfruit, but it also works brilliantly to make these Vegan Duck Pancakes.

When it comes out of the can, tinned jackfruit is usually in large pieces, which means it&rsquos ideal for turning into anything you&rsquod find meaty chunks in, like vegan nuggets, stews, pies and curries.

Is jackfruit a good meat substitute?

One thing to keep in mind is that although jackfruit has a similar texture to meat, as far as protein is concerned, it isn&rsquot comparable to it or non-meat substitutes like Quorn.

Tinned jackfruit has around 1g of protein per 100g, whereas Quorn has approx. 13-15g (depending on what form it comes in) per 100g, and meat that it would be substituting, such as pork shoulder, has around 27g per 100g.

If you&rsquore trying to create a nutritionally balanced plate of food, make sure you&rsquore including some extra protein with your jackfruit meal.

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3. Jamaican (Ital) Curried Jackfruit

I love Jamaican (Ital) food more than any other cuisine. Since I don’t live near any Ital restaurants any more, I had to learn to make my own and wrote How to Make Your Own Jamaican (Ital) Food at Home. Of all the Jamaican dishes I make, curried stews are the ones I cook most. The flavors are so rich and intense and the stew is very versatile.

Each time I make it a bit differently using tofu, tempeh, and different vegetables. Here is how to make my Jamaican (Ital) Curried Jackfruit with Chickpeas: open 2 cans of jackfruit in brine. Drain and rinse them well and then pat it dry. Cut the jackfruit into bite-sized pieces and place them in a bowl. Toss the pieces with 2 tsp. arrowroot powder, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. dried thyme, 1 tsp. kosher salt, ½ tsp. black pepper, and ½ tsp. ground allspice. In a deep skillet or saucepan, heat 2 Tbs. coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add the jackfruit to the pan in a single layer. You may have to cook it in batches depending on the size of your pan.

Allow the jackfruit to cook until it browns, about 6 minutes, before flipping. Flip the jackfruit and cook until browned and crisp on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the jackfruit to a bowl and set aside. In the same skillet or saucepan, heat 2 Tbs. coconut oil over medium-high heat. Saute 1 diced onion, 4 minced cloves of garlic and 1 seeded and minced chile pepper until the onions are softened, about 4 minutes.

Add 4 chopped red potatoes and 2 chopped carrots and mix in 2 Tbs. Jamaican curry powder, 2 tsp. dried thyme, ½ tsp. ground allspice, ½ tsp. red pepper flakes and ½ tsp. kosher salt. Toss to coat the veggies with the spices and let the potatoes cook for 5 minutes. Mix in 2 cups cooked chickpeas and cook for another 5 minutes. Add 2 – 3 cups of water there should be enough to just cover the vegetables. Cook until the potatoes are fork-tender and the mixture has thickened. Mix the crispy jackfruit into the stew and warm through. Garnish with 2 Tbs. fresh chopped parsley. Serve while hot.

What Is Jackfruit and How Do I Cook With It?

Here&rsquos an intro to the increasingly popular meat alternative.

Lovers of pulled pork and shredded chicken know that, when seasoned correctly, these ingredients can take on a wide range of flavors—salty, smoky, sweet and savory, to name a few. But those slow-cooked, staple proteins aren’t often described as fruity, regardless of whether they appear in chicken tacos or in barbecue sandwiches. So it might come as a surprise to some home cooks to discover that the familiar flavors and textures found in shredded meat can be achieved without using any animal products at all. In fact, you just need a specific fruit—one that, until fairly recently, couldn’t be found in major grocery stores, let alone in the produce aisle.

That meat-like substance is jackfruit, a native to Southeast Asia and one of the largest known fruits in the world. It’s commonly used as a major ingredient in a wide number of dishes, and can grow in size to weigh 120 pounds. The jack tree also produces more than a hundred of its fruits throughout the year, and those green, spiky orbs are edible at every stage of their development, meaning that jackfruit also yields a number of different textures when prepared at different stages of ripeness. In some countries, like the Philippines, ripe jackfruit is often eaten as dessert𠅏or example, with shaved ice and coconut milk. At its unripe stage, however, jackfruit takes on a shredded meat-like texture when cooked down and mashed with the fork, making it a perfect substitute for animal protein in dishes like stews, stir-frys, curries, and more.

For those unfamiliar with jackfruit, the fruit can be not only hard to find, but difficult to tackle. In the US, jackfruit can most often be found canned, either in syrup or in water, in specialty aisles and in stores serving Southeast Asian communities. Recently, however, some shoppers may have stumbled upon, pre-marinated packages of jackfruit in major grocery stores. By creating these ready-to-heat offerings and already seasoned, companies like Upton’s Naturals and The Jackfruit Company, are attempting to widen jackfruit’s appeal in the US.

Dan Staackman, founder of Upton’s Naturals, said that Sri Lankan jackfruit curry was actually the first jackfruit dish he and company vice president Nicole Sopko sampled. They tried it at a Madison, Wisconsin restaurant, and instantly were smitten by the meat-like product. However, given that jackfruit is still mostly sold in cans at specialty grocery stores, and can still be difficult for newcomers to work with, Staackman and Sopko began brainstorming how they might make the ingredient more accessible to American cooks.

“We had it in curry and just kind of fell in love with it, and we checked it out on the internet and saw that people were making barbecue sandwiches and tacos with it,” he said. 𠇋ut the only way to get it was in these cans, which normally have preservatives and are loaded with sodium. We kind of thought that there had to be some better way to get that and to make the product more user friendly.”

Unlike canned jackfruit, which can require hours of slow cooking to break up into a more shredded texture, Upton’s Naturals’ products only need to be heated up for a short amount of time before they are ready to serve. The jackfruit pieces have also already largely been broken up into meat-like strands, but breaking the pieces of fruit apart a bit further is easy to do, especially in skillet preparations.

Presently, Upton’s Naturals sells slightly pre-cooked jackfruit in a number of marinades, including Bar-B-Que and Thai Curry. Their Chili Lime Carnitas jackfruit, which made for perfect 𠇌hicken” quesadillas when we tested it, is one of their most popular flavors, Staackman said.

“The way we have it set up is that it’s basically marinating in that pouch its entire shelf life. It’s precooked a little bit, so you pretty much just need to dump out the pouch and tweak the seasoning if you like,” Staackman said. “Otherwise, just cook it down a little bit and you’re ready to go.”

To source the jackfruit used in Upton’s Naturals’ products, the company says it works with a number of family farms in Thailand that grow jackfruit. Those partnerships are essential, since picked jackfruit only stays fresh for up to 48 hours, making it difficult to ship in its raw form. The relationship has proved mutually beneficial for the farms as well, Staackman said. Since most farmers are hoping to produce jackfruits of prize-worthy sizes, a number of the tree’s fruits are culled before they are ripe to make room for larger specimens. By turning these unripe jackfruit into easily prepared meat substitutes, Upton’s Naturals is able to buy some of the fruit that might have otherwise gone to waste.

The difficulties of working with raw jackfruit don’t end at their short shelf life. Preparing the fruit also requires intensive amounts of labor. On the inside, a jackfruit is filled with fleshy pods and sticky juices, sort of like giant pomegranate. Peeling away that flesh takes time, but it yields the substance that many jackfruit dishes are made out of. Since the Upton’s Naturals’ jackfruit comes pre-processed, picking apart the fruits’ pods is a process that consumers won’t have to deal with.

“It’s quite tedious and messy. There’s a lot of natural latex in jackfruit, so you need to have an oiled knife on standby to be able to get through it most of the time,” Staackman said.

Staackman said the seeds inside the fleshy pods are also edible once a film around the outside is removed. When the jackfruit is ripe, these seeds can be roasted or boiled, and taste almost like potatoes. In the Upton’s Naturals products we tried, those seeds contained in the unripe plants, sliced thinly, had a texture that pleasantly reminded us of boiled peanuts.

Of course, for meat lovers, the idea of eating a barbecue sandwich filled with fruit instead of pork might seem strange Staackman encourages skeptics to give jackfruit a try, though, and to get creative with potential preparations. The company’s unseasoned jackfruit, which can be bought in bulk, works in any dish that normally calls for shredded meat, and the pre-marinated variations can be enjoyed a number of ways as well. For example, Staackman has found that the Thai curry version of his company’s products go especially well when prepared as spring rolls with rice paper.

“There’s no part of a chicken that you slice off the bone and it tastes like a taco. You’ve got to season it. In this case it’s literally just doing those same things to a fruit,” Staackman said. “It happens to have a texture that’s kind of like meat, and if you like garlic, onion, and chili peppers and cumin, or tomato paste and sugar and a little smoke, you’ll probably like these things.”

13 Delicious Ways to Cook With Jackfruit Instead of Meat

Beans and mushrooms both have meaty textures that make them great vegetarian substitutes, but if you want something more adventurous, reach for jackfruit. The fruit is indigenous to India, and it's recently gained popularity among vegan and vegetarian crowds internationally, because it can taste like pulled pork, shredded chicken, or even crab cakes when prepared just right.

If you've seen jackfruit pop up at your local Whole Foods, there are a few things you should know before giving it a try. While the fruit is high in nutrients like fiber and potassium, it's relatively low in protein, with only 2 grams per cup. "Jackfruit is a great meat substitute in the sense that it offers a meaty texture, but it doesn’t provide enough protein to be considered a protein substitute," Amy Gorin, M.S., R.D.N., owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City-area tells SELF. If you eat a vegan or vegetarian diet, make sure you're getting enough protein from other sources.

Now that you know, start experimenting with the ingredients in all kinds of "meaty" meatless recipes. BBQ sandwiches, tamales, gyros, and more are great for vegans, vegetarians, or anyone who just needs a new recipe to add to their Meatless Monday roster.

Cooking with Jackfruit

Jackfruit is the "porcupine" of the vegetable world. Can you imagine the first person to brave its frightening exterior? If the exterior didn't scare you off, the aroma of an overripe jackfruit could be a large deterrent. The jackfruit is also one of the more "gi-normous" fruits around. We're talking up to 70 pounds of prickly skin, "ribs," bulbs or pods, and seeds.

Forbidding exterior aside, the interior of jackfruit is golden and creamy looking, with individual pods or bulbs dotted with large black seeds. The pods or bulbs, which are actually coverings for the dark seeds, can be eaten fresh, roasted, or used as a cooking ingredient. Unripe or "green" jackfruit (unripe it is still beige, white, or golden) is often called "vegetable meat" for its chewy texture and mild flavor. Jackfruit seeds can be roasted or boiled, like chestnuts. Some people leave the seeds inside the bulbs and cook the two together. The nuts soften during cooking and can be eaten like a chewy bean.

If fresh jackfruit is not available or is out of season, it can be purchased frozen, dried, or canned either in brine (usually unripe) or in syrup (ripe and sweet, not used as a vegetable meat). Young or unripe jackfruit is what is needed for "vegetable meat." Canned young jackfruit can be found at Asian and South Asian stores and online frozen young jackfruit is often available as well. Be certain to select young, green, or unripe, canned in water or brine, to use jackfruit as a vegetable meat. Ripe or canned jackfruit in syrup is for dessert use.

Fresh jackfruit can often be too ripe to use as 'meat.' It can be hard to find, or is sold in quantities too large to conveniently use before it ripens. However, fresh ripe jackfruit is a great sweet snack, terrific for eating right from the shell or as an ingredient in fruit salads or sorbets. If you do find a source for fresh unripe jackfruit, you can clean, seed, and cut it and freeze for later use.

When tackling fresh jackfruit, you are going to want to ask for a tutorial on cutting and cleaning it from the store staff, or you can view many different videos online. Be certain to do your homework before working with a fresh jackfruit! Here is an example of one jackfruit tutorial:

Here's another great website offering recipes, history, etc. However, they cannot ship to the USA at this time:

Here are some Web and mail-order sources:

Fresh Jackfruit: Alphonso Mango Company: can ship fresh jackfruit to some states when in season.

Local Harvest: listings of local farms that ship fresh/canned/dried fruit:

Canned/Frozen Jackfruit: Amazon: Yes, believe it or not, Amazon has canned young jackfruit in brine: Phillam Filipino Store: canned and frozen young jackfruit

The Jackfruit Company: four globally inspired flavors created to be the center of your plate!

Young jackfruit has a great 'chew.' The flavor is neutral, so it will adapt to any herbs or spices you choose to add. The pods are usually about 2-3 inches around and are very nice to add to stews. It can be chopped, shredded, or sliced, and formed into cutlets, steaks, burgers, and balls or used as a 'meat crumble.' Jackfruit has an advantage over veggie meat substitutes, as it doesn't contain any sodium, fat, artificial color, preservatives, or gluten, and does have fiber and vitamin C. It is lower in protein than soy, beans, or meat substitutes, with about 3 grams of protein per 8 ounces (1 cup).

We have included interesting and tasty young jackfruit recipes at the end of this article. If you are into low-maintenance preparation, you can simply marinate drained, rinsed (to remove salt) young jackfruit in your favorite combination, such as barbecue sauce, oil and vinegar, or Italian dressing or salsa, for about 30 minutes and then sauté or microwave to tenderize. If you don't care to wait, or you would like your jackfruit very chewy, you can grill or barbecue jackfruit pods that you've tossed with your favorite seasonings. You can then shred or slice the jackfruit and use it as an ingredient tossed with hot pasta stir-fry or combine pasta, rice, and jackfruit and bake as a casserole or add the jackfruit into a marinara sauce, chili or soup.

For a recent catering event, Star of Siam Thai Restaurant in Long Beach, California created a braised fusion cuisine jackfruit entrée, rubbing the bulbs with a mixture of chili and curry powder, placing them on the char broiler to partially blacken them, and then simmering them in a green curry sauce "spiked" with jalapeños. If you have leftover young jackfruit, you can simmer it with pasta, such as vermicelli, Israeli couscous, barley, or quinoa and your favorite sauce, herbs, and spices for a savory hot entrée.

All of the following recipes use young jackfruit, also called green or unripe jackfruit. Canned young jackfruit should be drained. Rinse the jackfruit if you would like to remove some of the salt. Frozen young jackfruit should be thawed before using in the recipes.

Chinese Five-Spice Jackfruit

This is a simmer-all-day recipe that can be made ahead of time and then reheated as needed.

  • One 20-ounce can young green jackfruit in brine (drained and rinsed) or 3 cups frozen, thawed young jackfruit, or 3 cups seeded, rinsed fresh jackfruit
  • ½ cup chopped white onion
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice or tangerine juice
  • 1 Tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese Five-Spice mixture
  • 1 teaspoon organic brown sugar or maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Water as needed

Put the jackfruit in a slow cooker or crock pot. Add remaining ingredients, mix, and add just enough cold water to cover the mixture by about one inch. Depending on your equipment, cooking should take about 3 hours, stirring occasionally. The mixture is done when the jackfruit is "fork tender" (pulls apart easily with a fork).

You may want to serve this hot over rice or rice noodles create an Asian pizza by spreading on a pizza crust and baking at 400 degrees for about 5 minutes or use as a filling for steamed buns.

Total calories per serving: 42 Fat: <1 gram
Carbohydrates: 9 grams Protein: 1 gram
Sodium: 225 milligrams Fiber: 5 grams

Jackfruit Salad

This is a 'fire and ice' type of salad, with both mild and spicy ingredients. It does contain one very rich ingredient — coconut cream — but it is worth the calories for a special occasion. This recipe gains flavor over time, so you may want to prepare and refrigerate it 1-2 days prior to serving.

  • 1 ½ cups chopped young green jackfruit (canned, drained frozen, thawed or fresh, seeded*)
  • 1 ½ cups coconut cream (not coconut milk)
  • ½ cup chopped fresh or canned, drained tomatoes
  • ½ cup sliced red or sweet onion (your choice)
  • 2 teaspoons peeled, minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon seeded, chopped fresh chili (the heat is your choice)
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon minced fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley

Place the jackfruit in a large bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Mix all remaining ingredients except cilantro in a bowl. Combine jackfruit and coconut mixture, mix well, garnish with cilantro, and serve cold. You can also serve this salad as a warm-weather entrée, with chilled noodles, flatbread, or as the topping for a simple green salad.

Total calories per serving: 204 Fat: 16 grams
Carbohydrates: 14 grams Protein: 3 grams
Sodium: 67 milligrams Fiber: 7 grams

*Jackfruit calculated as rinsed

Savory Jackfruit Cutlets

This recipe can be used to create a main entrée jackfruit "steak" or a jackfruit "burger," as well as jackfruit "neat" balls or the "meat" filling in a casserole. A basic recipe is provided here. You will want to personalize it with dried or fresh herbs and spices of your choosing.

  • 1 cup canned young jackfruit in brine (drained*)
  • 1 cup peeled, boiled white, purple or gold potatoes
  • Vegetable oil spray
  • ½ cup minced onion
  • 1 Tablespoon seeded minced bell or chili pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic

The jackfruit needs to be mashed, so if the canned jackfruit is not tender enough to be mashed, place it in a microwave bowl and microwave for about 30 seconds or steam on top of the stove until tender. Combine jackfruit and potato in a bowl and mash until the mixture is fairly consistent.

Spray skillet with oil. Cook onions, chili, and garlic until soft, about 2 minutes. Add jackfruit mixture cook and stir over low heat for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (or overnight, if desired).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Shape cooled mixture into "cutlets," "burgers," or "balls." Place on non-stick baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, turning once. The prepared "cutlets" or "burgers" can then be (carefully) grilled or finished in a skillet (with a small amount of vegetable oil spray). The "balls" can be briefly steamed and served with pasta or with crusty bread.

Total calories per serving: 127 Fat: <1 gram
Carbohydrates: 28 grams Protein: 3 grams
Sodium: 41 milligrams Fiber: 9 grams

*Jackfruit calculated as rinsed

Jackfruit Chili

This recipe will hold up very well for several days in the refrigerator (after it is cooked) and can be served hot as an entrée or cold as a sandwich filling or dip.

  • One 20-ounce can young green jackfruit in brine (rinsed and drained) or 3 cups frozen, thawed young jackfruit or 3 cups seeded, rinsed fresh jackfruit
  • Vegetable oil spray
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons seeded chopped fresh chili (your choice of heat)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • One 15-ounce can white or pinto beans or 2 cups cooked beans, drained
  • 3 cups canned no-salt-added chopped tomatoes, with liquid
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce (or to taste)
  • 1 cup cut corn (frozen, thawed or fresh, cut off the cob)
  • 4 cups water

Place jackfruit in a bowl and shred with a fork as much as possible. Set aside. Spray the bottom of a large pot with vegetable oil. (You will be cooking the chili in this pot.) Add onions, garlic, fresh chili, cumin, red pepper flakes, and chili powder. Mix and cook over low heat, stirring, until onions are soft, about 3 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and bring quickly to a fast boil. Immediately reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for 15-30 minutes or until jackfruit is cooked to desired tenderness.

Serve over cooked rice or corn bread, or use as the base of a chili-vegetable soup or as ingredient in a baked chili casserole.

Total calories per serving: 133 Fat: <1 gram
Carbohydrates: 27 grams Protein: 6 grams
Sodium: 62 milligrams Fiber: 8 grams

Peppery Jackfruit

(For tacos, sandwiches, etc Serves 5-6)

This is a versatile recipe depending on how you decide to cut the jackfruit – dice, slice, julienne, etc. It can be used as a sandwich filling (pulled barbecue or sloppy Joe) taco, enchilada or burrito filling or pizza topping. You could also toss it with pasta, or serve it over steamed rice or grains.

  • Vegetable oil spray
  • ½ cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (approximately 1 Tablespoon)
  • One 20-ounce rinsed and drained young green jackfruit in brine, or 3 cups fresh or frozen, seeded young jackfruit
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon dry yellow mustard (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons no-salt tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon orange juice concentrate
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup

Spray a medium non-stick skillet with vegetable oil spray. Over medium-low heat, add onion and garlic. Heat and stir until very soft, about 4 minutes. Set pan and mixture aside.

Drain and rinse the jackfruit well if using canned jackfruit, rinse if using fresh, thaw if using frozen be certain all seeds and coverings are removed, using only the "meat" or central portions of the jackfruit. Place jackfruit in a medium bowl and toss with chili flakes, paprika, mustard (if using), and black pepper. Place the skillet back on the stove over low heat. Add seasoned jackfruit. Stir and heat until jackfruit is coated and warm, about 2 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix together tomato paste, vinegar, oil, orange juice concentrate, water, and maple syrup. Add to jackfruit, stir, and heat for about 5-10 minutes, until you reach the texture you would like. The less cooking, the more chewy the dish the more cooking, the more tender the dish will be.

You may leave the jackfruit whole, or dice, shred or julienne, depending on your preference. Serve warm over the bread or grain of your choice.

Note: If you would like a very chewy texture, you can preheat the oven to 400 degrees, spread the cooked mixture on a non-stick baking sheet, and bake for about 10 minutes, until slightly dry. Baking makes it easier to shred the jackfruit.

Total calories per serving: 66 Fat: 1 gram
Carbohydrates: 13 grams Protein: 1 gram
Sodium: 40 milligrams Fiber: 6 grams

Jackfruit "Not Crab" Croquettes

Jackfruit is often called vegetable meat. For this recipe, jackfruit is used as "vegetable fish!" If you can find arame, a type of seaweed frequently used in Japanese cuisine, it adds a mild seafood flavor to this recipe if arame is not available, crumbled nori (dried seaweed) can be used.

  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 20-ounce can young green jackfruit in brine (rinsed and drained) or 3 cups frozen, thawed fresh young jackfruit or 3 cups seeded, rinsed jackfruit
  • 2 cups drained, firm tofu or one 15-ounce can white beans, drained
  • 2 Tablespoons dried, crushed arame or nori
  • 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 2 Tablespoons finely minced fresh garlic
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard (your choice of variety)
  • ½ cup dry rolled oats
  • Vegetable oil spray

Place onions and jackfruit in a food processor and process until the jackfruit is broken into pieces about ½-inch in size. Do not over-process — we don't want a paste! Add the tofu or white beans into the processor along with all remaining ingredients except oats and oil spray. Pulse only to combine this should be a very chunky mixture. Place the mixture into a bowl, add oats, and stir well to combine. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. The mixture can be made a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator until ready to cook.

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a non-stick baking sheet with oil. To make approximately 2-inch croquettes, measure 1/3 cup (about 4 Tablespoons) of the mixture and shape it into a patty. Carefully place on the baking sheet and repeat until all the mixture is used. Bake for 10 minutes. Carefully turn each croquette and bake for another 10 minutes. Serve hot as an entrée, as the filling for a submarine sandwich, or as a "seafood burger."

Note: If you would like to bread the croquette, you can use approximately ½ cup of seasoned dried bread crumbs, matzo meal, panko (rice), or cornmeal. Spread breading on a plate and carefully coat each croquette on both sides prior to placing on baking sheet.

Total calories per serving: 102 Fat: 3 grams
Carbohydrates: 12 grams Protein: 8 grams
Sodium: 39 milligrams Fiber: 6 grams

Nancy Berkoff is the Foodservice advisor for The Vegetarian Resource Group and author of Vegan Meals for 1 or 2.

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What Does Jackfruit Look Like?

The exterior of unripe jackfruit is green in color and covered with spiny, knobby bumps. As the fruit ripens the skin turns to a yellow color the fruit becomes very fragrant. Inside, the fruit is a bright orangey yellow, in chunks called “pods” that are held together with a stringy white membrane. Each pod contains a large seed, which is also edible, but only when cooked.

How to Cook Jackfruit Seeds

Did you know that Jackfruit seeds are edible? Once cooked, they are similar to chestnuts in texture and flavor. Enjoy as snack, or add to curries.


Cooking Steps

In a large pot, cover Jackfruit seeds with water with about an inch of water above the seeds. Bring the water and seeds to a boil, then reduce to rolling simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the seeds can be easily pierced by a fork. Drain pot and spread the seeds out on a baking sheet to cool and dry. Peel off the outer, white layer. (The thin, brown layer is edible.)

Oven Roasting
Preheat oven to 400F. Spread the Jackfruit seeds on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil (for easy clean up). Bake 20 minutes, or until the seeds can be easily pierced by a fork. Let cool. Once cool enough to touch, peel off the outer, white layer. (The thin, brown layer is edible.)

Pan Roasting
Add Jackfruit seeds to a dry, cast iron skillet. Roast the seeds over medium-high heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until the skin is blistered and cracked or until the seeds can be easily pierced by a fork. Let cool. Once cool enough to touch, peel off the outer, white layer. (The thin, brown layer is edible.)