What is Jackfruit?
The question gets asked all the time, since jackfruit is a word that has many arching a brow in curiosity. Considering we’re The Jackfruit Company, we love explaining what jackfruit is, where jackfruit comes from, how to cook with jackfruit, and why jackfruit is so nutritious.
Jackfruit is believed to have originated in Southern India thousands of years ago, but is now widely cultivated in tropical regions around the world: SE Asia, South America, Australia and the Caribbean where it has been enjoyed both in ripe and young forms. Jackfruit grows on trees (aptly named jackfruit trees!). A single jackfruit tree can produce 2 to 3 tons of fruit per year, with a single jackfruit growing up to 80 pounds big! Similar in growing style to bananas or coconuts, jackfruit is harvested straight from the tree.
Jackfruit is a drought-resistant, high-yield crop that enables us to provide substantial income to local families, who, up until recently, had no real means of monetizing the jackfruit already growing abundantly on their land.
Our mission at The Jackfruit Company is to twofold: to help more people all over the world eat this fiber-rich, nutrient-dense fruit (a single serving offers 20% of your daily fiber recommendation!) and generate new income for local farmers in India, our partners who source the young jackfruit.
What’s more, jackfruit is recognized as a high-fiber whole-food meat alternative that will shape the future — and change, for the healthier, the center of the plate.
So, now that you know all that (high five!), let’s answer some of your other burning questions about jackfruit.
What Makes Jackfruit So Great?
As a meat replacement (or complement, if you’re flexitarian or paleo), jackfruit, when harvested young, is a low-calorie plant that has the look and texture of real meat. Because it’s so high in fiber, jackfruit is a great addition to the plate, to help satiate appetites and keep bodies healthy. In Burma, for instance, jackfruit aficionados, began their meals with jackfruit to improve their digestion of foods to come. Jackfruit also contains iron, potassium, and calcium. Low in fat, too, jackfruit is versatile to cook with. Use jackfruit to make a delicious “pulled pork” sandwich, jackfruit tacos, or even a curry jackfruit chili.
Is There Protein in Jackfruit?
Being a fruit, jackfruit isn’t high in protein, though it contains a couple grams per serving. Most of us are eating enough protein already, studies show, but few of us are getting the daily recommended fiber our bodies need to stay healthy (and keep food moving well in our digestive tracts).
That said, jackfruit is considered a meat alternative for the meaty texture jackfruit offers. When you bite into and chew jackfruit, you’ll be satiated by its density and heartiness.
BONUS: By using jackfruit to replace meat in meals, whether it’s one day a week or all seven, you’ll also cut back on negative environmental factors that many large-scale farms unfortunately create: greenhouse gas emissions, animal cruelty, and water usage. Our local farmers harvest young jackfruit with their own hands, on land they own. In many ways, eating jackfruit is one of many ways you can help support locally-owned, sustainable farms in India.
Still not convinced jackfruit can replace meat? We understand. We’re on a mission to redefine meat as nourishment, not animal protein… To give your body the most well-rounded of meals, we suggest adding beans and whole grains to your plate.
Why Does Jackfruit Look Like Pulled Pork?
We only harvest young jackfruit, before it’s fully ripened and the natural sugars in the fruit have not yet developed. Young jackfruit resembles meat like pulled pork or beef because of its texture. Jackfruit does feel like, look like, and chew like meat. Try it for yourself!
What’s The Difference Between Young Jackfruit & Fully Ripened Jackfruit?
Great question! Young jackfruit isn’t sweet, and it’s harvested as the name suggests — before the fruit is fully ripened, before the sugars have developed. Young jackfruit looks like meat. Fully ripened jackfruit, on the other hand, has the texture of a ripe banana and is sweeter, too. Ripe jackfruit is used to make desserts and snacks. We only harvest young jackfruit, so our products aren’t sweet and the jackfruit we use has no sugar at all.
How Do You Eat Jackfruit?
Jackfruit’s size suggests that it’s tricky to prepare, and its exterior prickly shell is a tad challenging. But in skilled hands, slicing and prepping the jackfruit meat is quite simple. In the past, you could only buy whole jackfruit in speciality Asian stores. We’re thrilled to be bringing fully prepared, ready-to-eat jackfruit to major grocery stores like Whole Foods and Sprout’s, so you don’t have to figure out how to prepare the jackfruit meat yourself. It’s our speciality, after all!
For ideas of what to make with jackfruit, check out our delicious jackfruit recipes.
What Can You Make With Jackfruit?
Jackfruit is versatile! Similar to how tofu takes on the seasoning it’s cooked in, jackfruit meat also complements whatever dish you add it to, from quesadillas and chili to omelets. Jackfruit is also delicious to eat on its own, or added to your mainstays like brown rice, pizza, tacos, salads, and stir fry.
What’s great about jackfruit is that this plant-based meat alternative is used differently in different parts of the world. So if you go traveling, you might just discover a new and inventive way to eat jackfruit.
When Is a Good Time to Eat Jackfruit?
Simply put: When you’re hungry! Seriously, jackfruit is versatile enough to add to any meal and snack. Add jackfruit to breakfast egg scrambles, packed lunches, and certainly dinners.
If you’re transitioning to a vegetarian or vegan diet, jackfruit can help you by giving you the satiation of meat without the actual animal protein. If you’re looking to eat foods that keep you fuller longer, whether it’s to lose weight or stave off hangry, jackfruit is a great option due to being really high in fiber — and fiber slows down digestion and keeps us fuller longer throughout the day, or after dinner when the pre-bed munchies strike.
What Makes Jackfruit a Meat Alternative?
Jackfruit is considered a vegetarian meat due to the uncanny likeness to actual meat. Jackfruit is dense like animal protein is, making it a great meat alternative or replacement for vegetarians, vegans, flexitarians, or anyone looking to reduce their meat consumption with an all-natural, plant-based, unprocessed source. One bite, and your palate will inform you that jackfruit is every bit as good and meaty as, well, meat. We think you’ll find yourself being quite satisfied with jackfruit, meal after meal.
Where Does Jackfruit Come From?
India is where we harvest jackfruit from aptly named jackfruit trees, which can produce 100 to 200 jackfruits per year. Each jackfruit can weigh up to a whopping 80 pounds and be three feet long. That’s not a wimpy fruit!
How is Jackfruit Harvested?
The tell-tale sign that a jackfruit is ready to be harvested is by its color change. Jackfruit starts off as green; and as it ripens, its shell changes to yellow. We harvest only young, green jackfruit because it’s the best for what we do: produce jackfruit that has a meaty texture and is low in calories. Fully ripened jackfruit, on the other hand, is too sweet to be used as a meat alternative and ought to be used only in dessert.
Why is Jackfruit Becoming So Popular?
We’d wager it’s because of jackfruit’s versatility, nutrient value, and approachable nature. Straight from the package, jackfruit can be eaten at any meal. Jackfruit is also becoming more popular because people want an all-natural, unprocessed meat alternative that their bodies enjoy. Jackfruit is harvested and eaten the way nature intended, without any added preservatives or fillers. When processed to sell, jackfruit retains its full nutrient density, offering 20% of the daily fiber intake along with key vitamins and minerals. Jackfruit is, simply put, a whole food. People in Southern India and other SE Asian countries have been eating jackfruit for centuries! Low in calories, and free of cholesterol and soy, jackfruit is also a sustainable food that can help feed thousands of people from one single harvest. Jackfruit is quick and easy to cook with — our jackfruit packs are ready in less than five minutes. Kids also love jackfruit, and that’s a big bonus as we aim to help every family eat more wholesomely. Jackfruit is also helping people transition to diets that eliminate or reduce meat consumption. Jackfruit is naturally vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, and nonGMO, while also being low in calories and an excellent source of fiber. So, in other words, jackfruit is a miracle food!
Ready to dig in? We have a range of jackfruit packs that are naturally seasoned. Find a grocery store near you that carries jackfruit.
Already a fan of jackfruit? We’d love to see what dishes you whip up. Post your photos to Instagram using the #KnowJack hashtag.