• Ellen Spinner

Trendy Ingredient Trials #1: Jackfruit

What is it?

Jackfruit is a tropical fruit that’s become super-trendy recently because when cooked, it has a texture similar to pulled pork - so it’s used as a meat alternative in vegan cooking. Here in the UK it’s usually found tinned. It’s low in calories and contains a good amount of fibre, but when cooking with it, bear in mind that you aren’t getting the protein or fat that you would with meat, and if you’re looking for a satisfying meal, you’ll need to include these in your side-dishes (I made a black bean and avocado salad to go alongside).

Don't worry - you don't have to wrestle with these bad boys.

Where can I get it?

As with so many slightly unusual ingredients, I found mine in the Crunchy Carrot in Dunbar, but you can also buy it in asian supermarkets and online. If you’re using it for savoury cooking, make sure that it’s canned in salted water and not syrup! Various supermarkets are also using jackfruit in their vegan ready meals - as with all ready meals, I recommend steering clear as they’re heavily processed (but if you must, Grace Dent in the Guardian rates Sainsbury’s Korean BBQ jackfruit bites...).

I used this brand and discovered that it's already quite tart, so do factor that in.

What recipe did you use?

I followed this online recipe for jackfruit carnitas. ‘Normal’ carnitas are a gorgeous sounding slow-cooked pork dish from Mexico that I've been meaning to try for ages, so when I saw the jackfruit carnitas recipe, I was keen to give it a go. There weren’t too many obscure ingredients apart from nutritional yeast (which I did have in the cupboard - my dog Hector is mad for it) and liquid smoke. Even if you don’t have these, I still think that the recipe will work. I would say however that the brand of tinned jackfruit that I used was already quite sour, so with the vinegar in the recipe, the final product was quite mouth-puckering - I would cut down the amount of vinegar used.

Drained jackfruit before cooking - you chop the 'core' off each segment to help it breakdown and get the faux-meat effect.

Would you try this again? Both Ali and I enjoyed it and would eat again very happily, but agreed that sour cream or cheese would have rounded it out a bit. Obviously, these are off-piste for vegans, who could get a similar effect with cashew cream. It would be ideal as a filling for tacos or part of a buddha bowl and if I had vegan friends coming over for dinner it would be perfect.

The finished article.

Family friendly? I’m sure that there are recipes that make jackfruit palatable for kids - but this one didn’t fly with mine. If serving to children, again, do bear in mind the low protein and fat content and provide alternative sources of these.

How about you - have you been eating jackfruit, and if so, how? Let me know in comments here or on my facebook page.

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