If you’ve never tried jackfruit before, you’ll be surprised to learn that even though it’s a fruit, it can be enjoyed in both sweet and savory dishes. It’s commonly used as a healthy replacement for meat in vegan and vegetarian dishes.
This blog post covers everything you need to know about jackfruit, what it tastes like, and how to prepare and eat it.
What Is Jackfruit?
Jackfruit is closely related to figs and breadfruit and grows in tropical areas of Brazil, Southeast Asia, and Africa. Even though it’s a fruit, it has a consistency that’s quite similar to chicken or pork.
Since it’s known to have a neutral taste, you can pair it with any sauce or seasoning. The stringy consistency of Jackfruit works amazingly well with tangy barbecue sauce. (source)
What Does Jackfruit Taste Like?
Since it’s technically a fruit, you may be wondering, ‘is jackfruit sweet?’
Jackfruit can be eaten either raw or ripe and when ripe it has a sweet taste that’s similar to mango, pineapple, and banana. It is rumored that juicy fruit gum was flavored to model ripe jack fruit. When it’s not ripe, it has a neutral flavor, a bit like potatoes, and can be paired with savory dishes.
Jackfruits don’t really have a strong flavor on their own, which is why they can take up the flavors of herbs and spices that are added to them. They can be made into plant-based versions of many meat-based dishes like shredded chicken, pulled pork, etc.
Jackfruit seeds can also be eaten as snacks after they’re boiled or roasted. Their flavor is quite similar to chestnuts and macadamia.
How to Pick out Jackfruit
It’s not always easy to buy jackfruits as they’re quite large in size. It’s known to be one of the largest fruits that exist and has a spiky exterior that shields the stringy flesh inside. Many supermarkets sell jackfruits pre-cut and packaged into set grams so that it’s easier for people to purchase them.
If you’re picking out raw jackfruit, look for pieces that haven’t blackened and appear quite soft and tender. When you’re looking for ripe fruit, make sure the flesh is vibrant yellow and doesn’t have any dark patches on it.
If you prefer buying the whole fruit, you need to select the fruit that has a very strong smell. This smell is an indication that the fruit is ripe and has a juicy flesh inside.
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How to Pick out Jackfruit
Jackfruits contain a very sticky substance inside that can be quite difficult to handle if you don’t wear gloves or oil your hands and knife. This fruit is typically cut vertically into two and then a knife is used to extract the fleshy pods.
Before cutting a ripe jackfruit, make sure you have on a pair of gloves and you’ve covered your cutting board with plastic wrap. Once you’ve oiled a large knife, use it to cut the fruit into two-inch slices, and then cut those slices in half and carefully run the knife along the core line to extract the pods.
Once you’ve broken the pods off the skin, get rid of the white fibers and the tip, and then split the pods lengthwise before removing the seeds and the rubbery skin containing the seeds. The leftover flesh can now be eaten. You can also boil the seeds for about 20 minutes to half an hour before serving them as a snack.
How to Eat Jackfruit
Younger jackfruits are usually packed with some water and sometimes salt as well, so you need to give it a good rinse under cold running water and allow it to drain inside a colander before adding into your recipes.
Jackfruit is known to work quite well with bold and spicy flavors. It can be mixed into chili and stews or sautéed with onions and peppers and thrown inside a pita wrap. It can also be rubbed with a Mexican spice blend before it’s seared in a pan and tossed with brown rice and avocado to make a filling vegetarian burrito.
Unripe jackfruit is quite like tofu as it can absorb almost all the flavors it’s cooked with. It can be added to a variety of dishes like soups, salads, curries, and stir-fries.
The process for cooking plain, canned jackfruit can be different depending on the recipe you’re using. Typically, you need to begin by draining the fruit first and then cooking it until it softens, looks easy to shred, and gets a meat-like consistency.
How to Store Jackfruit
After you’ve cut the fruit, you should store it in the refrigerator for up to 5-6 days. You can also wrap all the pieces and freeze them for a month. Even though storing can help preserve its freshness, jackfruit flavor is best enjoyed when it’s eaten fresh.
How to Store Jackfruit
Now that you’ve learned how to prepare jackfruit, feel free to incorporate into as many dishes as you’d like. You can eat ripe jackfruit fresh or bake it into a dessert. Unripe jackfruit can be used as a substitute for meat to create healthy plant-based meals such as tacos, pulled chicken sandwiches, and much more.