All About Jackfruit
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Jackfruit is becoming an increasingly popular item on menus. Here’s everything you need to know about the fruit.
Jackfruit is a tropical fruit from the same family as the fig, mulberry and breadfruit tree. It’s native to southern India, Sri Lanka and the rainforests of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. It’s the biggest fruit in the world, growing up to 90cm in length, 50cm in diameter and 55kg in weight.
Jackfruit has a hard, spiky outer skin which is usually green or yellow in colour. When cut open, the fruit has many fleshy bulbs each containing a seed. This yellow flesh is the edible part of the fruit and has a subtly sweet and fruity taste when ripe. Ripe jackfruit is typically eaten as it is or mixed into desserts.
Unripe jackfruit is a popular meat substitute due to its texture which is similar to shredded meat. When the fruit is still young, it has a neutral taste, taking on the flavour of whatever it’s being cooked with. You can find ripe and canned young jackfruit in most Asian markets. If you’re preparing jackfruit from a whole fruit, make sure to oil your knife and hands as the fruit contains a large amount of latex sap which will stick to anything.
Jackfruit can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes. One of the most popular ways to cook jackfruit is a vegan ‘pulled pork’ alternative. Mix the shredded fruit with BBQ spices and fry it up, add BBQ sauce and serve in buns with vegan slaw. Jackfruit works well with bold and spicy flavours, making it a great filling for Mexican fajitas, tacos, burritos, quesadillas or added on top of nachos.
If you’re using canned jackfruit, it usually comes in big chunks. This makes it perfect for turning into anything you’d find chunky bits in, such as stews, curries, chilli or pies.
Many Asian countries use young jackfruit in their cooking. It’s used in salads, vegetable dishes, and as fillings for cutlets and chops. In India, it’s turned into a preserve, condensed and eaten as sweets, and cooked as spicy side dishes and curries. In southern India, young jackfruit is sliced and deep-fried as a snack.
In Indonesia and Malaysia, the ripe fruit is also dried and fried to make crisps, whereas the young fruit is cooked into curries and stews such as gudeg, an Indonesian stew of jackfruit and palm sugar. You’ll also find that the seeds can be roasted to make a crunchy snack.
Jackfruit is great in desserts too. In Indonesia and Malaysia, the ripe fruit is chopped up and mixed with shaved ice as a sweet dessert called es campur (mixed ice) or added to the similar dish halo halo in the Philippines. In Vietnam, jackfruit is used to make che, a sweet dessert soup. Jackfruit puree is also used as pastry fillings or as a topping on xoi ngot (sweet sticky rice).
Feeling inspired? Take a look at these recipes which use jackfruit:
Jackfruit is an incredibly nutrient-packed fruit. It provides 155 calories in a 165g serving, with around 92% of the calories coming from carbs.
The fruit also contains important vitamins and minerals, as well as a good amount of fibre.
A 165g serving of jackfruit contains:
Jackfruit is a unique fruit as it contains a high amount of protein compared with other fruits like apples and mangoes, which only provide 0-1g in the same serving. It also contains many types of antioxidants which are responsible for the fruit’s health benefits.
Jackfruit contains high levels of vitamin C, carotenoids and flavanones which are all antioxidants. These help to reduce the risk of several diseases, including heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes.
Jackfruit’s high fibre content slows down digestion and helps prevent blood sugar spikes. It has a low glycemic index (GI), a measure of how fast your blood sugar rises after eating. Low GI foods are great for controlling blood sugar levels.
It’s important to avoid jackfruit if you have a latex or birch pollen allergy. As jackfruit contains a high amount of potassium, people with chronic kidney disease or acute kidney failure should avoid it. If people with these conditions consume high amounts of potassium, it can cause hyperkalemia which causes weakness, paralysis and heart attack.