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What is jackfruit and how can I use it?

Answer

Have you heard of jackfruit? This large, tropical fruit is a member of the mulberry family, and is native to South and Southeast Asia. It has a sweet taste that makes it ideal for jams and other desserts, and a chewy, stringy texture that makes it a unique plant-based meat substitute. The word jackfruit translates to ‘the meat which grows on a tree’ in Bengal, and it has been used in India and Thailand for centuries as a cooked ingredient in curries and warm salads.

Jackfruit has recently become popular in the Western world as well, and is commonly seen in dishes such as tacos, chilis, and sandwiches on menus at vegetarian and vegan restaurants. Though jackfruit does not contain as much protein as other popular meat replacements, it is high in vitamin C and is a wonderful source of fiber. You can purchase fresh jackfruit in some specialty stores and markets, but it is much easier to find canned jackfruit, often packed in brine. This can be found at many large grocery stores, often in the international section. Today I’m sharing some of my favorite ways to use this fun fruit in your own kitchen.

Top 5 Ways to Use Jackfruit

  1. Build the Perfect BBQ Jackfruit Sandwich. Simply add your favorite barbeque sauce to a can of jackfruit, spread a whole wheat bun with some vegan mayo and a garnish of shredded cabbage and you have a delicious and hearty lunch.
  2. Combine Jackfruit with Mexican Flavors for Taco Tuesday. The meaty texture of jackfruit makes it a perfect filling that resembles carnitas. Try my Jackfruit Black Bean Quinoa Tacos for an easy weeknight dinner!
  3. Add Jackfruit into Your Favorite Chili. I love incorporating jackfruit into my chili for a hearty, meaty element. It goes particularly well in my Smoky Chili with Sweet Potatoes.
  4. Bulk up a Warming Curry Dish with Jackfruit. Jackfruit pairs so well with the savory spices of Indian and Thai curries. Try replacing half the chickpeas in my Chickpea Curry with Sorghum with jackfruit.
  5. Blend Jackfruit into Your Morning Smoothie. It is a fruit after all! Combine frozen banana, mango, pineapple, and jackfruit, along with a splash of coconut milk for a creamy drink that will transport you to a tropical island.

Written by Ally Mirin, dietetic intern with Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN

Learn more tips for using plant foods in these guides:

Top 5 Ways to Use Pumpkin Seeds

Top 5 Ways to Use Pomegranates

Top 5 Ways to Use Dark Chocolate

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