Jackfruit. It’s becoming more and more popular as people are realising how amazingly versatile and tasty this fruit is. You can buy it in a few different forms; green jackfruit, cooked jackfruit (both in water or brine) and ripened jackfruit which is usually served in a can with syrup. I’ve most recently seen jackfruit sold in vacuum packed bags which came either cubed or ready shredded which would be handy for someone who leads a busy life. You can even buy jackfruit whole but they’re around 10kg in weight and will put you back £50-£60… The biggest ones can grow up to 36kg!
Ripe jackfruit is actually sweet and has a texture quite similar to mango or melon. The flesh can be used in cakes or battered and deep fried and the seeds have a fairly creamy taste and can be boiled, baked or roasted as a healthy snack. Jackfruit comes from the same family as figs, mulberries and the less known breadfruit which has an extremely starchy texture quite like a potato or boiled polenta.
Jackfruit is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, carbohydrate and fiber but is fairly low in protein. It’s fairly low in calories and contains no cholesterol or saturated fats and has plenty of pottasium in the flesh which helps to maintain the sodium levels in the body and in turn reduces high blood pressure levels which can cause strokes and heart attacks.
Jackfruit seeds, when eaten, are good for circulation and contain lots of vitamin A which is essential for stopping dry and brittle hair.
It’s also rich in vitamin C and antioxidants whilst helping to boost your immune system which is important to prevent colds, sickness and many diseases. Another benefit is that it’s one of the rare fruits that is rich in a B-complex group of vitamins and contains outstanding amounts of vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), niacin, riboflavin, and folic acid.
Most recently vegetarian and vegans have been using this unripened fruit as a meat equivalent, where it can be pulled apart once cooked to create a dish with the same texture and taste to pulled meat like chicken or pork. Being plant based and with all the benefits listed above there’s just no reason not to give it a try. It’s so versatile you can add almost any savoury flavour to the unripened jackfruit and the fruit will soak it all up and take on that flavour. I’ve cooked it dozens of times so far and I haven’t been disappointed yet.
The different variations I’ve tried are; peri peri, jerk BBQ, sweet chilli jack, fajita/Mexican, tunamayo nnaise (for a jacket potato or sandwich), breadcrumbed and fried jackfruit (jackfish tacos) and I’ve also heard
of it being put into pies, cooked on pizza, made into meatballs, added into a chilli among other thing.
Jackfruit used to be quite hard to buy and you used to have to travel to find it a shop shelf but now the demand for it has become higher, supermarkets are getting on board and starting to sell it too. Sainsburys and Ocado being some of the few supermarkets that are now selling it and I can’t imagine it will be much longer until the other big brands get on board and realise how much of this product they can sell. I usually buy mine in a world foods shop (Faraway Foods in Bury St Edmunds) where they come in bigger cans and that is also where I get a lot of my food inspiration from.
BBQ pulled jackfruit recipe:
You will need:
- a deep baking dish
- 1 x tin of green jackfruit
- 1/2 x small tin of sweetcorn
- 1/2 x tin of red kidney beans
- 1 x chopped red onion
- 1/2 x red/yellow/green (or all) pepper
- 1 x marinating sauce, usually they’re around 280g-300g (this could be anything from jerk sauce, bourbon sauce, spicy BBQ… whichever you prefer really)
- 150ml water
- Preheat your oven to 200°C (Gas mark 6)
- Drain the water/brine from the jackfruit and transfer the fruit into your baking dish
- Add in the bottle of sauce straight onto the jackfruit (no need to cook first) and add in the other ingredients if using (sweetcorn, red kidney beans, onion, pepper can all be added in raw, they will cook in the oven)
- Mix together to make sure the fruit is completely covered
- Add in your water and mix again
- Place on the top shelf of your oven for 45 minutes, removing from the oven 30 minutes in to stir.
- Once the 45 minutes is up, remove and pull apart the jackfruit using 2 small sixed forks. If you like you can place back into the oven or under the grill to dry out slightly.
Ways you can serve this include: in a wrap with lettuce, served with rice, served in a jacket potato, in a sandwich with some avocado and vegan sour cream, with some tortilla chips making a nacho style dish, or just by itself!