Shopping Spotlight: Jackfruit

 
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If you’re looking for a new way to enjoy a meaty texture in your meals without actually using meat, check out jackfruit.

The fruit of an evergreen tree native to India and south Asia, each jackfruit averages 7-22 pounds and can grow as large as 80-100 pounds. The fruit has a greenish-brown skin covered in hundreds of bumpy protrusions, and the interior is golden and creamy-colored.

There are two main varieties of jackfruit. One is small, sweet, soft, and mushy with a texture similar to a raw oyster. This one is often used for fruit salads and sweet desserts. The other variety is crisp and less sweet, and preferred for use as a meat substitute.

A fully ripe jackfruit has a very disagreeable odor of rotting onions until it’s cut open, and then the aroma changes to a more pleasant fragrance of pineapple and banana. Unfortunately, cutting open a jackfruit releases a flow of gummy, sticky latex that coats the knife and your hands. To more easily remove the latex, coat your hands with vegetable oil before slicing open a jackfruit. Fresh, sliced jackfruit can be used in fruit salads or smoothies. The seeds can be cleaned and boiled for 20-30 minutes, then eaten.

Because of the disagreeable aroma and sticky latex, many people prefer to purchase ready-to-eat jackfruit sold canned in brine (meat replacement) or syrup (desserts), dried into chips, dehydrated in shelf-stable packages, or frozen. Unripe, or ‘young’ jackfruit is typically preferred for use as a meat substitute due to it’s meaty texture and less sweet taste. In fact, unripe jackfruit takes on the flavors used in recipes. To use canned jackfruit to replace meat, first rinse and dry the fruit.

Jackfruit is naturally low in sodium, but many companies add salt to the canning brine, so be sure to check the nutrition facts label. While its texture is a good replacement for meat, like other types of fruit, jackfruit is low in protein. Be sure to include other protein sources such as nuts, seeds, or legumes in meals that use jackfruit.

Pick up a can or package of jackfruit the next time you’re at the grocery store and try it in a favorite recipe like crockpot pulled pork or flavorful fish tacos. You’ll enjoy the wide variety of nutrients and feel good about choosing plants to replace meat.

What Nutrients are in Jackfruit?

½ cup of canned jackfruit contains 40-50 calories, no fat or cholesterol, 320mg potassium, 12g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 6g sugar, and 2g protein.

Jackfruit contains vitamin A, vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, calcium, potassium, iron, sodium, zinc, and niacin. Jackfruit also boasts a variety of phytonutrients including lignans, isoflavones, and saponins with anticancer, antihypertensive, anti-ulcer and anti-aging properties. The carotenoids in jackfruit can be important for the prevention of several chronic degenerative diseases, such as cancer, inflammation, cardiovascular disease, cataract, and age-related macular degeneration.

By Lynn Grieger, RDN, CDE, CPT, CHWC

References:

  1. California Rare Fruit Growers. Jackfruit. https://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/jackfruit.html  Accessed 8-28-17.
  2. Swami, S. B., Thakor, N. J., Haldankar, P. M. and Kalse, S. B. (2012), Jackfruit and Its Many Functional Components as Related to Human Health: A Review. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, 11: 565–576. doi:10.1111/j.1541-4337.2012.00210.x
  3. The Vegetarian Resource Group. Cooking with Jackfruit. Nancy Berkoff, RD, CCE. http://www.vrg.org/journal/vj2015issue1/2015_issue1_cooking_jackfruit.php Accessed 8-28-17

PDF Handout: Jackfruit Handout

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