Jackfruit, a recent culinary addition to the co-op, has been gaining attention for its viability as a meat-substitute. Though it is not cultivated in the United States and its introduction as a product here is relatively recent, it has been cultivated for over 3000 years in other parts of the world.
The origin of the jackfruit is most likely the Western Ghats, a mountain range in India. It is so abundant and accessible in India, that it has become regarded as a Òpoor manÕs fruit,Ó and for this reason, many people refuse to eat it. Approximately 75% of the jackfruit grown in India goes to waste. Though it is an overlooked crop in India, it has been heavily embraced in Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia, Nepal, and Brazil.
Jackfruit is the largest tree-borne fruit in the world. One jackfruit can weigh anywhere from 10 to 110 pounds. A single fruit could feed an entire family. It is much bigger than its close relatives, mulberries and figs. The jackfruit tree can grow up to 70 feet tall and produce up to 200 large fruits per year. This makes walking underneath jackfruit branches quite the dangerous endeavor!
Ripe jackfruit flesh has many culinary uses. It is naturally sweet with a mild tropical fruit flavor, and is often eaten on its own. It can also be dried into chips, canned, candied, made into jam, juiced, or eaten with rice. In Vietnam, jackfruit is used to make many desserts including sweet soup and pastry filling. It is an excellent source of potassium, Vitamin C, and fiber.
Unripe or ÒyoungÓ jackfruit flesh has just as many, if not more, culinary uses. It has a meaty texture and very mild flavor making it ideal for savory dishes. It is often used in curries as a meat substitute because of its texture. Jackfruit is gaining popularity among vegetarians and vegans in the United States for making pulled ÒporkÓ BBQ.
At the co-op, you can find canned unripe jackfruit to make your own dish. Our kitchen uses it on a regular basis as a meat susbstitute on the salad bar and hot bar. Just yesterday, they braised jackfruit with dried chilies, garlic, and lime for Tuesday night tacos!
So now that you know a little bit about jackfruit, we hope you stop in and give it a try. Let us know what you think, or ask the kitchen for some cooking tips!
Special thanks to Sara in the Tidal Creek produce department for contributing this jackfruit information!