Food & Drinks

Everything you need to know about jackfruit, the delicious (and super popular) meat alternative

It looks - and tastes - just like real meat!
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We all know that reducing our consumption of animal products is one big tangible change we can make in an effort to support our planet.

While giving up meat and dairy full time (RIP to cheese!) and going vegetarian or vegan can be really challenging, even swapping out a few meals a week with non-meat options can go a long way towards helping the environment.

And one popular meat alternative that’s absolutely booming right now is jackfruit.

Jackfruit is native to Southeast Asia and is the world’s largest tree fruit – just one piece can weigh up to 40kg!

While it doesn’t look like much from the outside, inside the jackfruit, its flesh looks just like shredded meat and has a similar texture, making it an ideal meat substitute.

So, what does jackfruit taste like, where you can buy it and more importantly, how can you cook it?

We spoke to Dan Staackmann, the founder of health food brand Upton’s Naturals, which sells ready-to-eat jackfruit meat in Australia, and got the answers to all your burning jackfruit-related questions.

This is what the jackfruit plant looks like in the wild.

(Image: Getty)

Inside, the jackfruit contains huge amount of light-coloured flesh.

(Image: Getty)

What does jackfruit taste like?

There’s a huge difference in taste between young and mature jackfruit.

“Young, green Jackfruit is typically used in savoury cuisine, as the flesh has yet to develop a sweet flavor and thus can be seasoned more easily,” Dan says.

“At this stage, the cooked fruit’s texture is similar to that of shredded meat, which makes it an ideal meat substitute.”

Most pre-packaged forms of jackfruit, including those from Upton’s Naturals, are made from this type of fruit.

But ripe jackfruit has a sweet flavour, similar to that of pineapple and mango.

“The pod will also contain a seed, which can be boiled until soft, peeled, and eaten like a roasted nut or boiled potato,” Dan said.

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The white, yellow-ish flesh has a similar texture to meat.

(Image: Getty)

Is jackfruit healthy?

“Jackfruit is a nutritional powerhouse that’s free of saturated fat and cholesterol, low in calories, and high in vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, and vitamin B6,” Dan says.

“It’s also rich in fibre and potassium, which are nutrients that many people are lacking.”

However, it is quite low in protein and carbohydrates.

It’s also a whole food that is completely natural and usually comes with minimal processing.

Jackfruit can be cooked in a way that resembles pulled pork, and used to create meals like these vegan jackfruit burgers.

(Image: Getty Images)

How do I cook jackfruit?

Cooking jackfruit from scratch, from the fruit itself, is a time consuming and messy process.

The fruit produces a natural latex that sticks to everything, plus because it’s unripe, young jackfruit needs to be cooked for a very long time.

Therefore, cooking pre-packaged jackfruit (you can buy it in cans from the supermarket) with a combination of spices, herbs and vegetables to add flavour, is the easiest way.

“We wanted to make it easier for people to cook with jackfruit at home, which is why we developed our pre-seasoned, heat-and-eat line up,” Dan said of his Upton Naturals products, which are available from select health food and organic supermarkets and online stores.

“We par-cook the jackfruit, so it only needs to be heated for 8-10 minutes on the stovetop, as opposed to several hours in a slow cooker. The most popular ways to use jackfruit are in BBQ sandwiches and tacos, but it’s also an awesome fit for making wraps and salads, stews and nachos.”

You can also buy pre-flavoured jackfruit that has already had ingredients added, to add extra flavour.

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Why is jackfruit so popular?

We can put Jackfruit’s surge in popularity down to the growing interest in plant-based diets, as more of us choose to eat in a way that is better for the environment.

“People are more interested than ever in meat alternatives and value an option like jackfruit that’s nutritious and versatile,” Dan says.

“Plus, jackfruit can be easily swapped in for recipes that call for pulled pork or shredded chicken, helping to ease the transition for people who want to cut meat from their diet but still crave that familiar texture.”

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