Jackfruit is the largest tree fruit in the world and it can be used in its ripe and unripe state for two very different taste sensations. Find out more about it here.
There has been a lot of hype around the new meat substitute from Southeast Asia. The jackfruit has already been conquering the hearts of vegans and vegetarians for several years. Why? The unripe flesh has a surprisingly fibrous structure, which is extremely similar to meat. Whether in a curry, as a substitute for minced meat or as vegan “pulled pork”, here you can find out everything you need to know about the versatile tropical fruit, why it is so good as a meat substitute, where you can buy the fruit, and how to prepare jackfruit properly for maximum enjoyment.
In Indonesia, Thailand, India and Sri Lanka, jackfruit has been cultivated and consumed for several thousands of years. It is impossible to overlook this tropical fruit in its home countries: With a weight of up to 35 kilograms and a size of almost one meter, the jackfruit is the largest tree fruit in the world. The jackfruit is a species in the mulberry family and a mature tree produces 200 fruit per year. The popular tropical fruit is not only particularly high-yielding, but thanks to its enormous resistance to drought and heat, it is an extremely resilient crop. The fruit owes its name to the Malay word “chakka”, which in turn is derived from the word “chakra” and roughly translates to “round”.
The fruit with two tastes
This fruit with its spiky, hard skin has many particularities. The degree of ripeness of the jackfruit determines its taste! When it is fully ripe, its colour changes from green to yellow-brown and the flesh becomes softer. At this point the jackfruit tastes fruity and sweet, comparable to a mix of pineapple, mango and banana. However, you will rarely find the fresh fruit outside of Southeast Asia. But don’t worry, you can still enjoy the ripe jackfruit in this country too, as it is sold as a jam, jelly or deep-fried.
In order for the jackfruit to fully ripen and become as sweet and juicy as possible, smaller unripe fruit are cut away. In technical jargon, this process is known as “pinching off”. However, the unripe jackfruit are not discarded. These fruit are particularly popular on the western market and farmers often soak the unripe fruits in brine before they are exported. In this state, the unripe fruit flesh is almost tasteless and only acquires its meat-like quality with the right spices!
It’s all in the marinade!
Due to the neutral properties of the unripe flesh, the jackfruit is the ideal base for any kind of seasoning and marinade. With its fibrous texture and crispy crust that develops when you fry it, the jackfruit really does give you that “meaty” feeling. Popular ways to use the tropical fruit include: as a substitute for minced meat, in burgers or as vegan pulled pork. For each dish, jackfruit can be seasoned and marinated differently according to your taste. Here is s simple recipe that can be spruced up in order to create more complex dishes:
- 1 can jackfruit
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp paprika
- Salt & pepper
Remove the jackfruit from the can, rinse thoroughly and pick apart with the help of a fork. Add the rest of the ingredients to the jackfruit pieces, mix everything thoroughly and let it sit for about 15 to 20 minutes. Then fry in a little oil until crispy and you have a healthy meat substitute!
Multi-faceted and healthy
Jackfruit not only helps to reduce your meat intake, but is also full of healthy ingredients and vitamins. Its high fibre content and few calories make it ideal for a balanced and low-carb diet. Minerals such as potassium, magnesium and calcium are also present in sufficient quantities and help to achieve your recommended daily intake.
Purchasing and storage
If you are now a fan of the tropical fruit, you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled! Because: jackfruit cannot be found in every supermarket. Your best bet to find this delicacy is to check in organic supermarkets, stores with Asian products or larger speciality shops’. Here you can often get the fruit in brine as a preserve or as a ready-marinated convenience product.
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