Jackfruit: the delicious vegan-friendly alternative to pulled pork

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jackfruit pulled pork
Jackfruit, it's the meat replacement everyone is talking about. And we think there's good reason for that too. This all-natural 'veggie answer to pulled pork' that can be found in many vegan recipes has a meaty texture and subtle flavour that works perfectly as the base to loads of different sauces.

Despite it being relatively new to us, Jackfruit has thought to have actually been cultivated in India up to 6000 years ago. This fruity favourite is also now grown in South East Asian countries like Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand. It likes warm climates, so can also be grown in some southern parts of America too.

If you're wondering how to prepare it, cook with it and whether it's good for you, read on. Here's everything you need to know about jackfruit.

How did jackfruit get its name?

We've had lots of people ask us this question, and the truth is, we're not 100% sure. There are reports that the fruit got its name from the Portuguese word for it, 'jaca', which is thought might have been their translation of the Southern Indian name 'chakka pazham'.

How do you prepare jackfruit?

The way you prepare jackfruit depends on whether you buy a young or old fruit, or just plump to get it in a tin.

A ripe jackfruit will have a yellowish, spiky skin and can be eaten just like any tropical fruit, as breakfast, a snack or dessert. Once you've got your hands on one you'll need to cut into it and remove the seeds. These can be tough so it's best to use a sharp paring knife. Then simply scoop out the flesh, leaving the skin behind and enjoy!

The young jackfruit is the kind you might be looking for if you've been searching for recipes that use it in place of pulled pork. It's the young, green jackfruit that has the fibrous consistency that so well imitates meat. This is most commonly found already prepared in tins, which makes it perfect for a quick meal fix. If you get your hands on a green jackfruit then they're a little trickier to prepare, as they are filled with a white resin so sticky that it stains everything it touches!

What is the difference between jackfruit and durian?

If you were looking at a jackfruit and a durian side by side you might not immediately know the difference, as their external appearance is the almost same, however they are individual fruits.

Durian has a rougher, more spiky skin and has the nick name 'stinky fruit' because of the smell it omits. The fruit gets this distinct, very pungent smell from its formation of hydrogen sulphide. Better sticking to jackfruit we think!

How does jackfruit grow?

Jackfruit is the largest fruit to grow on trees in the world, with some of the fruits reaching a whopping 100 pounds at times. They grow out on short branches, and from the trunk itself sometimes, which is when they get to their heaviest as there's less chance of them snapping off a branch.

What are the benefits of eating jackfruit?

Although jackfruit isn't the best protein substitute for vegan alternatives to meat, it does come loaded with a whole host of other benefits. It's rich in things like Vitamin C and Magnesium, which is thought to possibly reduce the risk of many health problems like high blood pressure and heart disease.

One cup of this lovely stuff contains just 155 calories when raw, so is also useful if you're trying to stick to a low calorie plan. The same quantity also contains 2.4g protein, 2.6g fibre and 39.6g carbohydrates.

How does a jackfruit taste?

You might be surprised to find that jackfruit doesn't really have too much of a 'taste'. It has a very mildly sweet flavour, with a hint of tropical fruit. Some people describe it as having a pineapple or mango flavour – but the subtlety of the flesh is what makes it great for cooking into sweet or savoury dishes, as it takes on all the flavourings of sauces or seasonings so well.

Jackfruit recipes

There are lots of things you can make with jackfruit. You can make chips out of the flesh by roasting it, cook it up into jam and jackfruit can even be processed into flour.

If you're looking for jackfruit recipes to make right now however, we can help! We've been busy developing a couple of real staple meal ideas which use this tropical ingredient as their main focus.

Jackfruit pulled pork

Jackfruit pulled pork is a great vegan twist on this classic American recipe. The fruit has a fab fibrous texture that holds the sauce really well. We’ve gone for using tinned jackfruit in this recipe, to make it really easy. You can buy the tins of fruit from Amazon!

Get the recipe: Jackfruit pulled pork tacos

Pulled jackfruit hoisin pancakes

Anything you can do with shredded meat you can pretty much do with jackfruit! This Chinese classic is delicious when made with jackfruit, and ready in no time at all.

Get the recipe: Pulled jackfruit hoisin pancakes

Have you tried jackfruit before? Let us know in the comments below if so - we'd love your top tips for how to cook with this tropical fruit!

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