Vegan Wonder

Discover the Incredible Power of Jackfruit: The Vegan Meat Alternative You Need to Try

The Mighty Jackfruit

If you’re a fan of plant-based eating but miss the taste and texture of meat, then you’re in for a fruit-tastic surprise! Say hello to jackfruit, the vegan meat alternative that’s taking the food world by storm.

What’s in a Name?

Jackfruit is a large, spiky fruit that hails from Southeast Asia. This “fruit of kings” has been enjoyed for centuries due to its delicious taste and impressive size. It’s not only a popular snack but also a staple ingredient in various cuisines. But what sets jackfruit apart from other fruits? Let’s find out!

Jackfruit’s Superpowers

When it comes to nutrition, jackfruit is a powerhouse. A single serving (100 grams or 3.5 ounces) of raw jackfruit contains:

  • 85 calories
  • 2 grams of fiber
  • 1 gram of protein
  • 18 grams of sugar

But that’s not all! Jackfruit is rich in vitamins C and B6, and it contains a decent amount of magnesium, potassium, and manganese. So not only does this fruit make a great snack on its own, but it also offers some fantastic health benefits.

Meat Me at the Jackfruit Buffet

So, why is jackfruit being hailed as the best thing to happen to vegans since cashew cheese? The answer is simple: it freaking tastes like meat!

When cooked and shredded, jackfruit takes on the texture and flavor of pulled pork. It can also be seasoned to taste like chicken or even seafood. This fruit is a blank canvas that can be used to create a wide variety of dishes, from barbecue sandwiches to vegan sushi.

The Ultimate Meat Substitute

When compared to traditional meat, jackfruit has a protein content of about 1 gram per 3 ounces (85 grams), which is similar to chicken and pork. Its amino acid profile is also quite comparable to meat. However, the true magic of jackfruit lies in its texture.

The fibrous structure of jackfruit becomes tender and stringy when cooked, making it an excellent substitute for shredded meat. Whether you’re looking for a meat-like texture for sandwiches or a base for a hearty stew, jackfruit has got you covered.

How to Cook with Jackfruit

Now that we know jackfruit is the bee’s knees let’s talk about how to use it in your own kitchen.

Picking Your Jackfruit

Fresh jackfruit is the way to go if you want to experience the fruit in its purest form. Look for fruit that has a yellow background with brown spots, as this indicates that it is ripe. Unripe jackfruit can also be used for cooking, but it will need to be cooked longer and has a slightly different texture.

Canned jackfruit is a convenient option for those who don’t have access to fresh jackfruit or who prefer a more processed approach to their cooking. Canned jackfruit comes in two varieties: brined and unsweetened. For savory dishes, opt for the unsweetened version, as the brined jackfruit is packed in a sugary liquid.

Prepping Your Jackfruit

Before you can cook with jackfruit, you’ll need to prepare it by removing the hard center core and any inedible fibers. If you’re using fresh jackfruit, refer to this video for instructions on how to do this. If you’re using canned jackfruit, simply drain and rinse it before using.

Seasoning and Shredding

Once your jackfruit is prepped and drained, it’s time to season it and shred it to mimic the texture of meat. You can use a fork or your fingers to do this, but a kitchen tool called a “jackfruit shredder” makes the process much easier.

After your jackfruit is shredded, you can toss it with your favorite barbecue sauce or seasonings to give it some flavor. You can also add liquid smoke or a small amount of soy sauce to help it absorb the flavors better.

Recipes to Get You Started

Ready to give jackfruit a whirl? Here are three delicious recipes to get you started:

Jackfruit “Pulled Pork” Sandwiches

For this recipe, you can either use a pre-made barbecue sauce or make your own. If you’re using fresh jackfruit, cook it in a pot with some liquid (water, vegetable broth, or barbecue sauce) until tender. Then shred it and mix in your sauce. Serve on a bun with coleslaw and your favorite barbecue toppings.

Jackfruit “Crab” Cakes

To make vegan “crab” cakes, shred and drain your jackfruit. Mix it with breadcrumbs, vegan mayonnaise, and Old Bay Seasoning. Form into cakes and pan-fry until crispy. Serve with remoulade sauce and a side salad.

Jackfruit “Chicken” Salad

Dice your cooked and shredded jackfruit into small pieces. Toss it with a creamy vegan dressing (like vegan mayo or a plant-based yogurt), your favorite herbs and spices, and some chopped nuts for crunch.

Substituting Jackfruit in Your Recipes

Jackfruit can be used as a substitute for meat in almost any recipe. The key is to start with a base of tender jackfruit and build flavors on top of that. For example, if you want to make jackfruit tacos, you can season shredded jackfruit with taco seasoning and cook it in a pan with some oil. You can also add beans, salsa, and avocado to the tacos for extra flavor and texture.

The Future of Jackfruit

As jackfruit continues to gain popularity, we can expect to see more products and recipes featuring this versatile fruit. Already, there are jackfruit jerky, jackfruit hot dogs, and even jackfruit cheese! As more people adopt plant-based eating, jackfruit will play an important role in satisfying the demand for meat alternatives.

Beyond its culinary applications, jackfruit also has some impressive sustainability benefits. According to a study by the University of Michigan, producing jackfruit requires fewer resources (land, water, and energy) than raising animals for food. So not only is jackfruit delicious and versatile, but it’s also a more eco-friendly option for those looking to reduce their carbon footprint.

In a world where plant-based eating is becoming more mainstream by the day, jackfruit is poised to take center stage as a hero ingredient in the vegan movement. Its delicious taste, meat-like texture, and impressive nutritional profile make it an ideal substitute for animal products in a wide variety of dishes. Whether you’re new to plant-based eating or a seasoned pro, jackfruit is a game-changer that’s sure to inspire creativity in the kitchen and delight your taste buds.