07 Mar What the Heck Is Jackfruit?
Have you been seeing a strange green spiky fruit hanging around your supermarket or showing up in your Instagram feed? Jackfruit has been around for thousands of years, but has recently gained popularity in the U.S. So what’s the story behind this relative of figs and is it something you should be trying?
What is jackfruit?
Jackfruit is thought to have originated in India thousands of years ago, but can now be found in tropical areas, such as the Caribbean, South America, Australia and even Florida. Jackfruit is harvested similar to bananas and coconuts, straight from a tree.
Are there any health benefits?
This baby is low in calories, about 25 calories per ounce, and is high in fiber, potassium, magnesium and vitamins A, C and B6. It’s free of fat and cholesterol and like other fruit, low in sodium.
Jackfruit has a low glycemic index and one study found that both diabetic and non-diabetic patients who consumed jackfruit extract significantly improved glucose tolerance. This study is a nice starting point to check if this fruit has possible benefits for diabetics.
Jackfruit is also loaded with antioxidants, which may has many benefits including disease prevention, and thanks to its potassium and fiber content, may help prevent heart disease.
How to prepare and eat it
You’ll find that ripe verses unripe jackfruit have an entirely different taste and texture. Unripe jackfruit is stringy and has a similar texture to meat, which makes it a great substitute for pork or chicken in sandwiches, tacos and chili. Similar to tofu, young jackfruit is mild in flavor and tends to take on the flavor of whatever you cook it in. Although Jackfruit may work well as a meat substitute texture wise, it’s low in protein (1 cup sliced has about 2.5g) so nutritionally, you’ll need to find other ways to compensate.
Fully ripened jackfruit has the texture of a ripe banana and tastes sweet, making it great to use in desserts and smoothies.
Prepping a whole jackfruit can be tricky with its prickly outside and large size, but luckily many companies now offer it canned, fully cleaned and cut or in pouches located in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. When purchasing canned jackfruit, purchase it canned in its own juices with no sweeteners are added.
In addition to the flesh, the seeds are edible as well. They can be roasted or boiled and tossed with your favorite spices.
Should you try it?
Jackfruit is a healthy addition to any diet and thanks to its neutral taste when unripe, and versatility in the kitchen, it can be a fun new ingredient to experiment with.
TELL ME: Have you tried jackfruit? If so, what the heck did you do with it?