Cooking With Jackfruit Is Easier Than You'd Think

You might not think of fruit as a good substitute for meat but that's exactly what jackfruit is. Grown in tropical climates, the bumpy fruit can weigh up to 100 pounds. Its flesh can be eaten unripe or ripe depending on the recipe you're using.

The nutritional profile of jackfruit is impressive. Some call it a superfood for its health benefits, while others say it's a miracle fruit due to each tree's ability to sustainably produce hundreds of nutritious fruits (per Forbes). Jackfruit is low in calories but high in protein, antioxidants, and B vitamins. Studies show it may protect against cancer, and reduce blood pressure among other benefits (per WebMD).

Jackfruit has become very popular with vegans, vegetarians, and others who go meatless due to its ability to be used in various dishes ordinarily made with pork or chicken. According to Food Revolution Network, unripe jackfruit convincingly replicates the taste and texture of meat, and it does so without artery-clogging cholesterol.

While there are some important things you should know if you plan on cooking with jackfruit, the good news is that it's easier than you think.

Where to find jackfruit

Fresh jackfruit can be hard to find and tricky to prepare. The sticky sap inside makes it difficult to cut and handle but don't let this discourage you from trying it. Canned jackfruit should be easier to track down. It also takes the work out of preparing the fruit and is just as good as fresh.

Many stores such as Trader Joe's, Wegmans, and Walmart sell canned jackfruit, and you can also look in your local Asian supermarket (per Culinary Careers). The important thing to remember when buying canned is to check the label to make sure it says green jackfruit. This means the jackfruit inside was picked before it was ripe and will have the perfect texture and neutral flavor for savory dishes. Ripe jackfruit is typically packed in syrup and has a delicious taste similar to mango, and works best as a sweet treat (per The Jackfruit Company).

Once you've opened that can of jackfruit, give it a rinse and tear it into bite-size pieces. You'll see soft seed pods inside that can be shredded and used with the rest of the fruit. Once it's shredded it's ready to use in any recipe.

A fruit with many uses

Want to impress your guests at the next backyard barbeque? Vegan pulled "pork" made using jackfruit couldn't be easier. Sauté shredded jackfruit with onions in oil and then put it in a slow cooker and stir in homemade or store-bought barbeque sauce. Let it cook on low for hours and serve it on rolls with coleslaw (per MasterClass). You now have a vegan pulled "pork" that will make your guests — and the pigs — very happy.

Jackfruit tacos can make your next Taco Tuesday one to remember. After the jackfruit has simmered in the spicy, smoky adobo sauce it can be used in tacos, carnitas, or anywhere else you'd use shredded chicken or pork.

If you're short on time, there's another way to enjoy jackfruit. Upton's Naturals, known for their line of seitan products, introduced pre-packaged jackfruit into supermarkets in 2015. Upton's sales of all their products grew 600% between 2013 and 2020 so they're clearly onto something (per Vegconomist). Looking for an easy recipe to get started? Try some Bar-B-Que Jackfruit Spinach Pies using Upton's barbeque flavor jackfruit and see for yourself.