Spiny, spiky, oozy – fruit? And as a vegan meat replacement?

by ashley

by Ashley Morgan

Is it an alligator? It is a lizard? A dinosaur??

No, it’s a jackfruit! The largest tree-born, and arguably most delicious, edible fruit in the world. And when I say large, I mean it. The jackfruit can grow up to a whopping 80 pounds. That’s over 36 kilos of heavy, sweet fruit. While I have seen the jackfruit for much of my life in Florida and throughout the Caribbean, I only recently found out about its use as a meat replacement. And since I really can’t stand many “fake” meats, I knew that I needed to make a dish to see how it tastes.

Ripe, the jackfruit’s texture and flavor is like a banana, mango and pineapple all mixed together. Super sweet and perfect without any dressing. But, unbeknownst to me, the younger, green fruit has a very mild taste, meaning it will absorb flavors almost as well as tofu. What I found out after taking these photos (and making a couple recipes that you will see posted soon) is that, unlike when eating the ripe fruit, the younger fruit can be cut up in its entirety. Just peel off the skin, cut it, marinate it and eat. The ripe fruit you actually peel out the individual pockets of fruit, which are good for eating raw. Don’t try eating the green jackfruit raw, though. It doesn’t taste good and can possibly give you a major stomachache.

I bought my jackfruit from a locally-grown farm here in South Florida. I didn’t want anything too extravagant (and consequently ridiculously expensive) but rather a modest fruit. Well, apparently a modest jackfruit is 9.8 pounds, the smallest they had available. After paying $18 for one fruit, I brought it home and began examining it. I had eaten ripe jackfruit before, but never had the delight of cutting and peeling it myself. Even before peeling the stem began oozing its white liquid on everything, which consequently is actually used as caulking in some Asian countries (yes – it is that sticky and thick). So be prepared for a sticky, messy endeavor if you are trying this yourself. To counteract the stickiness, have a small bowl of oil at the ready for coating hands, cutting boards and your knife.

Cutting the jackfruit is easy, as long as you have a large enough knife. Remember this while purchasing, you’ll need to have a pretty big knife to go through some of the larger jackfruit. It’s possible without, but it creates a lot more work. If you’re eating it ripe, just cut the fruit in fourths, peel away the hard tethers, pull out the seeds and eat the soft fruit. If you’re making a recipe with green jackfruit, I’ve now learned all you need to do is peel off the outer skin and cut. You will still need to take out the seeds, however. In either scenario, the seeds shouldn’t be discarded. Keep them and roast, they have lots of health benefits and are great when added to a trail mix (which, by the way, I have a great recipe for that I’ll be posting soon).

There are a multitude of recipes out there for jackfruit, Asian and otherwise. I’ll be posting a few of mine over the next few days, which include a couple Latin recipes that are completely unique. If you have any questions about the jackfruit, or are looking for a place to purchase in South Florida, please let me know and I’d be glad to help.

 

 

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3 Responses to “Spiny, spiky, oozy – fruit? And as a vegan meat replacement?”

  1. If you cut the jackfruit in half and refrigerate it for 24 hours before trying to remove fruit it won’t be near as sticky.

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