Known as a popular meat substitute, jackfruit is a super healthy fruit with endless possibilities! Here is everything you need to know for cooking with jackfruit.
What is jackfruit?
The age-old question, what is that fruit? When you see jackfruit in the store you may wonder what kind of thing could possibly be that large with such a perfect geometric pattern. Well, that is a jackfruit. Due to its size and odor, it is also known as the “king of fruits” in some regions.
Jackfruit (or Artocarpus heterophyllus, scientifically) is often an acquired taste. Its smell is described by some as a jellybean or bubblegum, while others describe it as rotten onion. Some parts of Southeast Asia have even banned the fruit in public transportation due to how long the smell can linger once cut open.
Like many tropical fruits, jackfruit is loaded with antioxidants and is also high in potassium and fiber. This makes sense as its texture is somewhere between a banana and mango or papaya. So if you are lucky enough to have jackfruit in your grocery store, grab one, pull up this post, and enjoy!
How to buy jackfruit
Jackfruit is available canned in water, syrup, or brined and it can be found fresh whole or halved.
Fresh Jackfruit – When buying fresh jackfruit, look for a vibrant yellow flesh without any dark patches. It should also have a strong smell, indicating that it is ripe. Some folks also say you can tell if jackfruit is ripe if you shake it and the outer-shell pieces fall off. This is still up for debate, however. Just be aware, that breaking down a jackfruit is a laborious task, but I have all the tips for cutting one in this post!
Canned – Jackfruit is most likely to be found canned in the store. It can come canned as unripe or “young” or ripe and it can be packed in brine, water, or syrup. If you want to use it as a meat substitute, I recommend buying unripe jackfruit that is packed in water as this will be the most neutral flavor and have the most fibrous and meat-like texture. If buying it packed in brine or syrup, be sure to give it a good rinse before eating.
What does jackfruit taste like?
Jackfruit can taste very different depending on if it is ripe or not.
Unripe – Unripe jackfruit is tougher and therefore resembles meat more closely and lends itself well to savory meals. It also has a much milder flavor meaning it can take on any flavor it is paired with.
Ripe – Ripe jackfruit is better for sweet treats. It has a strong, sweet smell and a texture that is a cross between a mango, banana, and a pineapple.
How to Cut jackfruit
With its sheer size, jackfruit can be intimidating to break down. We broke down everything you need to know about how to cut jackfruit here, but the general steps are:
- Oil your hands and knife
- Cut in half then in quarters
- Remove the core from each quarter
- Remove the pods tucked between the fibrous flesh
- Remove the seeds from each pod
Can you eat jackfruit seeds?
The seeds in the jackfruit are edible! They can be boiled until tender, and taste like red potatoes when cooked. Here’s how to boil jackfruit seeds!
Jackfruit Health benefits
Is jackfruit healthy? Yes! Jackfruit is packed with antioxidants, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. This combination has been known to benefit heart health and fiber aids in digestion. Jackfruit has been used as medicine for centuries, so it’s no surprise that its health benefits have caught on the western culture. But, there are no studies that definitively show it can help as a medicine.
Here are just a few of the many health benefits you’ll find in 1 cup of this delicious fruit:
3 Grams of Protein
With 3 grams of protein per cup, jackfruit is considered a high-protein fruit. Compared to other fruits like apples and mangoes, it contains almost triple the amount!
18% Daily Value of Vitamin C
Jackfruit is a great source of vitamin C. In addition to maintaining a healthy immune system, this nutrient is essential in the formation of blood vessels, cartilage, and muscles.
14% Daily Value of Potassium
Fortunately for our blood vessels, jackfruit is a rich source of potassium. Potassium helps our bodies regulate blood pressure and ensure our muscles and nerves function properly.
10% Daily Value of Vitamin A
Jackfruit is a source of Vitamin A, which helps maintain good vision. It also happens to be beneficial for optimal heart and lung function.
Jackfruit vs. Durian
These fruits are often confused because they are both large and in charge. Both are packed with vitamins and minerals but they originate from different parts of the world. Both can be used in savory or sweet dishes, depending on their ripeness level.
Jackfruit is related to figs and comes from Southern India from over 5000 years ago. It is the largest fruit growing on a tree (on the base of the tree that is), weighing up to 80 pounds! It is smelly when ripe, but not as smelly as a durian. Jackfruit has a distinctive bumpy or thorny rind.
Durian is slightly smaller, weighing in at only 7 pounds (max). Durian grows along tree branches and is very spiky in appearance. Durian is much easier to break down than jackfruit, as it is well organized into cavities and does not have a sticky sap to fight with.
Learn all about the differences between jackfruit and durian here!