9 Things You Didn’t Know About Jackfruit + A Recipe!

If you’ve visited a vegan joint within the last year, you’ve likely seen jackfruit on the menu, perhaps in the form of a BBQ sandwich. But what is this tangy tropical fruit, and how can you use it?

Below are 9 things you may not know about jackfruit.

1) The jackfruit grows on both the trunk and limbs of the tree. This makes the bulbous, bumpy tree quite a sight to see when it’s dripping with enormous fruit.Jackfruit tree with fruits

2) Jackfruit is the world’s largest tree-growing fruit. How large is large? Jackfruit can grow up to 100 pounds!

3) Rumor has it that jackfruit was inspiration for the flavor of Juicy Fruit gum. Don’t believe it? Get your hands on a fresh, mature fruit and pop a section into your mouth. The unique, tangy flavor and chewy texture are a dead-ringer for the beloved gum line.

4) Jackfruit has more potassium than a banana. Say what? Yep, it’s true. The jackfruit has 448 mg of potassium per 100 grams of fruit, trumping the banana’s 358 mg.

5) Surprisingly, jackfruit is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, with 39.6 mgs per 165 grams. This makes the sweet fruit a great option for vegans and vegetarians who don’t eat fish—the top source of omegas.

6) Jackfruit is actually part of the mulberry family, although it looks nothing like a mulberry.

7) It can be eaten raw or cooked. In the U.S., it is most readily found canned, although you can probably rustle up a fresh fruit at an Asian supermarket.

8) If you can get your hands on a freshie, save the seeds, which are high in protein, and use them to make dips and spreads. Interested? Try a jackfruit seed hummus! 

9) Jackfruit is high in copper, which plays an important role in hormone production and maintaining a healthy metabolism.

Because it’s a whole plant food, Jackfruit is a unique meat alternative for vegetarians not interested in more processed soy or wheat-based products. To get the lowdown on this, we tapped into Dan Staackmannn, Founder of Upton’s Naturals, an independently-owned natural foods company with a focus on meat alternatives.

“Jackfruit has been used as a meat alternative for hundreds, if not thousands, of years and can be consumed at any stage of maturity,” says Staackmann, who began looking into jackfruit after sampling a jackfruit curry at a Nepalese restaurant.

“We did some research online and saw that many people were making BBQ sandwiches and tacos with it,” says Staackmann. “The catch was you had to hunt down canned jackfruit, usually only available at Asian specialty food stores, and more often than not the cans would have preservatives. On top of that, once you got the can home it would take another 1-3 hours of prep before you could eat that BBQ sandwich! We wanted to eliminate all of that extra work, so we decided to make the first ever pre-seasoned, pre-cooked young jackfruit product for the natural market.”

Staackmann now has four flavored jackfruit products in his line, and says he loves cooking with jackfruit based on its amazing texture and the ability to absorb whatever flavors it’s paired with.

Surprisingly versatile, the fruit can be used in many ways outside the well-known BBQ jackfruit sammies. “BBQ is by far the most popular with tacos a close second,” says Staackmann. “But it’s also great over rice, in a stew, or in a recipe for a mock tuna sandwich.”

Are you a jackfruit newbie? Staackmann has some helpful hints for cooking with the fruit for the first time:

“Don’t buy a mature fruit at the store and think you’re going to turn that into a BBQ sandwich! The fruit is different at every stage of maturity, and the young fruit that we use is not readily available in the US. It’s also very messy to process because it has a natural latex in it that sticks to hands, knives, tables, etc.”

Staackmann also stressed that’s it’s important to remember that Jackfruit is a fruit. This means it may not be like any other meat alternative you’ve had before, so try not to go into the experience with any expectations. “For our packaged Jackfruit, it helps to break up the pieces a little while still in the package if you’re looking for an extra-shreddy texture in a short amount of time. Since it’s a natural fruit and not something that is manufactured, the product will vary some from batch to batch.”

Looking to give jackfruit a try? Below is a spicy recipe from my book The Lusty Vegan, co-authored by myself and vegan Chef Ayinde Howell.

 

Yields 2-4

Habanero Jackfruit Fajitas

10 minPrep Time

30 minCook Time

40 minTotal Time

Save Recipe

Ingredients

    JACKFRUIT
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed or safflower oil
  • 1 (20-ounce) canned/packaged jackfruit (packed in water or brine, not sugar), drained
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon habanero hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium wheat-free tamari
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon habanero hot sauce
  • Salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 (12-ounce) package 10-inch flour or corn tortillas
  • FAJITAS
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed or safflower oil
  • 1/2 cup sliced onion
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, sliced lengthwise
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, sliced lengthwise
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced lengthwise
  • Salt
  • Vegan sour cream (optional)
  • Lemon or lime wedges (optional)

Instructions

    Jackfruit
  1. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the jackfruit and break it into shreds with a fork. Add the sage and minced habanero. Add the nutritional yeast, Worcestershire sauce, tamari, brown sugar and hot sauce. Add salt to taste and stir in the water to incorporate well. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes on low heat. Taste and adjust salt and spice to your liking. Remove from the heat. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. While the jackfruit braises, wrap the tortillas in foil and place in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.
  3. Fajitas
  4. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and bell peppers, and sprinkle with salt to taste. Sauté until the vegetables begin to caramelize, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a serving bowl.
  5. Set up a family-style serving station with the warm tortillas, peppers and onions, jackfruit and optional vegan sour cream with lemon wedges, extra hot sauce, chips, cheese shreds...you get the idea.
https://www.care2.com/greenliving/9-things-you-didnt-know-about-jackfruit-a-recipe.html

Habanero Jackfruit Tacos, copyright Geoff Souder, Vegan Heritage Press, 2014
Jackfruit on tree, Thinkstock

100 comments

John J
John J5 months ago

thanks for sharing

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John J
John J5 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Clare O
Clare O1 years ago

I take it that it is Asian families who are buying it and cooking in barbecue with it.

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Clare O
Clare O1 years ago

Is this the same as durian?

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Kathy K
Kathy K1 years ago

Interesting. Thanks.

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heather g
heather g1 years ago

Doesn't sound as if it would be vey popular in North America. It takes too long to cook - still if I see it, I'll give it a try.

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Sonia M

Good to know thanks for sharing

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John B
John B2 years ago

Thanks Zoe for sharing the info, recipe and links.

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for sharing.

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for sharing.

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