What is Jackfruit? Why should you eat it?
There’s been a recent crazy about jackfruits. In fact, jackfruit was among Google’s recently released 2016 food trends.
So, what is jackfruit? What’s so great about it? And should you eat it?
Table Of Contents
- What Is Jackfruit?
- Why The Craze About Jackfruit?
- Is Jackfruit Healthy?
- Nutritional Data For Jackfruit – Ripe and Young
- Don’t Confuse Jackfruit With Durian!
- Products With Jackfruit In Them
- Should You Eat Jackfruit?
I ate jackfruit many times when I visited tropical areas of Asia, and so I was confused at first what all the fuss was about as jackfruit wasn’t very novel to me.
For those unfamiliar with this delicious fruit, here’s what one segment of the ripe fruit looks like once the outer shell has been removed.
In some ways, a jackfruit reminds me a bit of a giant prickly grapefruit as the inside of the fruit breaks apart easily into these self-contained segments. And each segment contains a seed that is typically removed if you’re buying jackfruit in a can or already broken into pieces.
If you’re buying jackfruit whole, then they look like these huge fruits with rather jagged spikes on the outside. These giant fruits grow on trees hanging off the branches.
This is the jackfruit tree at Doi Suthep outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand. It’s supposedly 340 years old.
The sweet jackfruit pieces have a slightly chewy texture. They’re refreshing and have a sweet and floral (and slightly pungent) flavor. You’ll often find them as an ingredient in Indian desserts – check out our Paleo version of the Indian sweet jackfruit balls dessert recipe here.
While I’ve the ripe sweet jackfruit pieces a lot in Asia, the recent craze about jackfruit has nothing to do with that. Instead, it’s all about the young green jackfruit, which can be a meat substitute. This is because when the young green jackfruit is not sweet but can soak up the flavors of sauces it’s cooked in and also can produce a meat-like texture that may fool vegans and meat-lovers alike.
So, you can make delicious pulled “pork” sandwiches and tacos and even dishes like fake bulgogi! All completely meatless.
While we have nothing against meat and think it’s very healthy, jackfruit can nevertheless be a fun alternative to try.
It can be hard to find jackfruit fresh in the US, so if you’re planning to make your own jackfruit savory dish, then make sure to buy young green jackfruit packed in brine (which you can buy in cans like these). And if you’re planning to make a sweet jackfruit recipe, then make sure to either use fresh sweet jackfruit pieces or buy the sweet ones like these (it’s in syrup so make sure to drain well when using).
The main thing to note is that there are 2 types of jackfruit that you can buy – sweet ripe yellow jackfruit and young green jackfruit.
The sweet ripe jackfruit is the type typically found fresh in supermarkets in Asia.
In the can, this is what the sweet jackfruit looks like:
However, it’s the green young jackfruit that has been getting all the attention recently as it’s not very sweet so it’s better suited for savory dishes like vegan tacos and BBQ pulled “pork.”
Here’s a photo of what the young green jackfruit looks like in the can:
As for just how healthy jackfruit is…it’s really not that great. You’ll get some vitamin C and some fiber but not much else. And the sweet version is high in sugar like most fruits.
This nutritional info is from the Native Forest organic young jackfruit cans, which you can find on Amazon.com.
If you want to give young green jackfruit a try, then check out our easy BBQ jackfruit saute recipe here. It’s Paleo as well as vegan!
Durian is another fruit that’s popular in Asia that has a white/yellow flesh that comes apart in pieces and has a large green spiky exterior. Jackfruit is NOT the same as durian! Durian is way more pungent in smell and the flesh is more creamy and mushy rather than chewy.
This is what durian looks like:
As jackfruit becomes more and more popular, there will be more prepackaged products using them. But, as with any packaged food, always read the ingredients label carefully. I’ve seen some packaged meals made using young green jackfruit that contain sunflower oil as well as cornstarch (and those aren’t Paleo ingredients).
Sweet jackfruit is also popular in packaged products – I spotted these sweet jackfruit chips fried in palm oil in an Asian supermarket:
If you want to see what all the fuss is about, then get yourself a can of young green jackfruit and make some shredded “meat” dish (like our easy BBQ jackfruit saute). Or if you have vegan friends coming over to dinner and don’t know what to serve them, then definitely consider jackfruit instead of soy-based meat-substitutes.
Images Copyright (c) siwaporn999 and khumthong from Fotolia