When this new, large green fruit started showing up in the produce section of my local grocery store, I was mildly interested but not enough to actually purchase one and serve it to my family. At first glance, the jackfruit is intimidating with its rough and spiky skin. If you’ve never seen one before, it is not the type of fruit that makes you think, “Wow, that looks good! I think I’ll try it.” Week after week, I would glance at the new jackfruits on display, marvel and keep walking.
Until one day, my editor approached me and said, “Hey, have you heard about jackfruit? Interested in writing a story about it?”
That was just the nudge I needed.
As you can tell. I took the assignment and I found out that this big, green fruit is considered a “miracle’ food. So, I decided to take one for the team and dive in.
It seems that every day there is a new “miracle” food that is destined to cure all that ails us. However, as I researched the jackfruit, I found out why it gets that status, too. It’s packed with nutrients and has the potential to aid healing for a range of conditions from skin diseases to cancer. The jackfruit root has also been known to control asthma and cure diarrhea and fever.
If you’re vegan or simply trying to eat healthier, adding jackfruit to your regular diet isn’t a bad idea. It’s a good source of potassium, B1, B2, folate, vitamin E, magnesium, manganese, iron, calcium, and dietary fiber and; because it’s high in fiber and water content, jackfruit can help improve digestion. Jackfruit is also high in protein. Every 100 g (3.5 oz) of young jackfruit provides between 2.0 (.07 oz) and 2.6 (.09 oz) grams of protein, making it an excellent meat alternative.
The benefits are quite impressive, but what about the taste?
A young jackfruit has a rather bland taste and is great for use in highly seasoned dishes where you want the jackfruit to take on the taste of the spices. The younger fruits also have a firm, crisp texture similar to an apple at first bite and more like an artichoke as you start to chew. This firm texture and bland flavor are what make the young jackfruit perfect as a meat substitute.
A ripe jackfruit is very sweet and often used in dessert recipes. You can tell the ripeness of your jackfruit by the color of the skin. Young jackfruits are green in color, but ripe, sweet jackfruits are more yellow with brown patches. The jackfruit I sampled was not fully ripe, so it had the texture of a young jackfruit, with only a little sweetness.
Inside the big green miracle
The process of cutting open a jackfruit is just as difficult as it looks; so, make sure you prepare. Before cutting your first fruit, I would recommend viewing one of the demonstration videos on YouTube. The video I used was created by Dany Kao and it was a good, no-nonsense demonstration.
There are a few things to remember when cutting one open for the first time. The fruit is very sticky. Make sure you follow the instructions; use latex gloves and oil your knife. I didn’t follow these directions and I had a very hard time cleaning my hands and my cutting surface.
Time to eat
Now that the hard part is over, it’s time to find ways to incorporate jackfruit into your daily diet. The recipes that follow are designed to be easy modifications on familiar meals.
If cutting open a jackfruit is not for you, don’t worry. There are many products available today to help you get all the health benefits without the mess. Jackfruit is available, canned, dried and as a pre-seasoned meat substitute. You can find it at your local grocery store. It is sold in different departments depending on the packaging so check with your grocer first.
Curious, too? Try these two jackfruit recipes below!
Angelia McFarland is a writer, advocate, marketer and entrepreneur. Through her company EOP Media, LLC, she helps people use the power of digital and social marketing to amplify their authentic voice. Follow her on Facebook at @eopmedia.