Jackfruit Is More Than a Meat Alternative
With the growing demand for vegan and vegetarian recipes, creative chefs and food companies have come up with some pretty clever plant-based meat substitutes. While it’s fantastic for eaters of all stripes, there’s a catch: When large communities or cultures first become familiar with an ingredient as a “vegan meat substitute,” there’s a noticeable split in opinion about the unfortunate fruit or vegetable. All of a sudden, meat enthusiasts are proclaiming that it tastes nothing like meat, and plant aficionados are convinced that the texture is the same as chicken, when in reality the poor plant is just trying to be itself! Tofu has been subjected to such abuse for years, and now, I’m afraid, jackfruit has come under scrutiny. The jackfruit is complex, versatile, delicious, and much more than a divisive meat substitute.
Jackfruit is a showy looking fruit. Oval in shape, two or three feet long, covered in myriad greenish-yellow spines, it is a dizzying sight. You can find the fresh variety in many Asian grocery stores, and while it looks similar to durian, it’s best not to confuse the two. (The wonders of the durian can wait until next time.) According to Healthline , this giant fruit is a good source of vitamins, nutrients, and surprisingly protein compared to other fruits. Peel off the uneven skin of the jackfruit, bypassing the sticky fibrous layer, and you will find numerous bumps of the treasured fruit. Break open the fruit to reveal its fibrous texture (as well as a few seeds). But, if you’re not going to be throwing a party, you’re probably better off getting prepared foods in jars or bags—a whole jackfruit can weigh between 30 and 80 pounds.
Choice between young and ripe jackfruit
The method of eating jackfruit depends on the stage of its maturity: young or ripe. A young jackfruit has a bright green skin, firm fruit, and a more neutral flavor than older, more ripe fruit. The ripe fruit has a yellow or brownish skin and is very sweet and fruity. You can find both types in jars or packages; however, where you find them can be difficult.
In countries where jackfruit is native, such as India, Thailand, and Sri Lanka, to name but a few, jackfruit is used in both sweet and savory recipes, not only as a vegetarian meat option, but also on its own. with its own unique star power. consumers can look forward to. You can find both young and ripe versions at most Asian grocery stores. Most of the Western grocery stores I’ve been to only sell young green jackfruit, the kind that’s been booming as a replacement for vegan meat. Unfortunately, this leaves those of us who are looking for sweets empty-handed as you cannot substitute one for the other. Let’s look at some common applications for both.
How to use young jackfruit
Young jackfruit is harvested while still green, before natural sugars have developed in it. The texture of the fruit is firm yet gooey, making it an excellent substitute for minced meats such as chicken, beef, or pork in many recipes. The young fruits are slightly pungent and can sometimes be found fresh, cut into slices, but are often preserved in brine. Rinse off the brine before using it, and the chopped fibers will soak up the bold sauce very well. Recipes like these Braised Pork Slices by Makeitgrateful or Jackfruit Chicken Enchiladas by Vegantraveleat are good examples of tasty and popular applications. If you want to explore savory jackfruit recipes that don’t masquerade as meat, try this Tam Khanun (Northern Thailand Jackfruit Salad) recipe from Saveur Magazine or Kathal Ki Subji (Jackfruit Raw Curry) from Hebbars Kitchen.
How to use sweet jackfruit
My problem with jackfruit being widely regarded as a meat substitute is that many people deprive themselves of the sweet, ripe jackfruit entirely. Ripe jackfruit is fragrant and tasty, with a tropical flavor of its own. If not available fresh, it is usually packaged in syrup or dried into pieces for a sweet snack . You can use sweet jackfruit the same way you would other tropical fruits: in smoothies , upside down cakes , or eaten fresh out of your hands. For a refreshing summer dessert, enjoy cold coconut milk and other fun textures like sago or chewy tapioca .
You don’t have to be a vegan or vegetarian to eat and enjoy jackfruit, you just have to love good food. With lots of nutrients, an interesting texture and both sweet and savory ingredients, jackfruit is definitely worth a try. But, before you harvest the entire 30-pound fruit, try a 20-ounce jar first.