It’s a vegan staple, but what exactly is jackfruit and how do you cook with it?
Katie Georgeson, from kitchen appliance providers Stoves, offers her advice for using this plant-based alternative to meat.
Jackfruit is fast becoming one of the most popular meat alternatives due to its versatility. It’s delicious and sweet when ripe, but most people choose to cook with it unripe as it has an unusual shredded meat-like texture. The flavour is also more neutral, which means it can be used in a whole spectrum of savoury recipes.
So, here’s how to make the most of this unique, low-calorie ingredient.
What is jackfruit?
Jackfruit is a sweet but very pungent tropical fruit. If you’re going to eat it raw, you’re best off eating it ripe like most other fruits so that it’s soft and juicy. However, unripe ‘green’ jackfruit, the most readily available in the UK, is not as sweet and has the perfect texture for cooking with.
How to prepare it ripe
It’s a lot easier to buy this meat-like substitute in a packet or canned as its now available in most supermarkets, but you can still buy the fruit and prepare it yourself. Ripe jackfruit has a very strong odour, so you might prefer to cut it up and remove the seeds outdoors or somewhere that is well ventilated before serving.
How to prepare it unripe
Unripe jackfruit can be prepared indoors, but it is extremely sticky and can coat all your work surfaces and tools with a hard-to-remove latex. So, it’s easier to buy canned. Throw the pieces into a pot of water and stew it until tender: at this point, the fruit’s flesh will have a stringy texture similar to pulled pork.
Once simmered, you can freeze your jackfruit to add to a sauce later, or you can keep it in the fridge for around 5–6 days. Jackfruit only takes a short time to cook — between 10 and 30 minutes — so you can whip up a dish with this ingredient in no time.
How to cook it
As the texture is so similar to pulled pork, your prepared unripe jackfruit can be used in a variety of similar dishes. Barbecue, salsa and teriyaki sauces all work especially well due to their strong flavours, so cook up a batch of your chosen sauce and add your jackfruit. You can then serve your mixture as it is on lettuce leaves, or as the main filling inside wraps, burger buns or tacos.
Jackfruit also makes a good vegan replacement for flaky fish, especially when mixed with zesty lemon and parsley. So, you can even make some vegan tuna melts, crab cakes or battered fish fingers without using any seafood in the recipe.
These are just some of the ways you can incorporate jackfruit into your meals. Whether you buy canned jackfruit or prepare it yourself, it’s a low-calorie, versatile and delicious fruit to cook with.