Vegan Mofo 2014: Day 15: Meaty Meatless Monday: Jackfruit Tutorial

Hey all!

Today for Meaty Meatless Monday I want to do a bit of a tutorial/guide to cooking with Jackfruit rather than sharing a specific recipe (although I will definitely share some of my favorite recipes for it).

For those of you that don’t know, Jackfruit is a tropical fruit that is popular in regions of Asia, that happens to be, when in the right form, a fantastic faux meat substitute for vegans in terms of it’s texture. It can be used in vegan pulled pork type recipes, bbq, as a crab or tuna substitute, even in a recipe for Philly Cheese Steak, to name a few! It is rich in iron as a half cup has 25% iron, but otherwise has fairly neutral nutritional value. It is similar to tofu in that it can take on whatever flavors you cook it with, with a bit more of tangy, even sweetly sour taste.

I jumped on the jackfruit wagon as soon as I could find a way to get some, and at first that meant purchasing it from Vegan Essentials’ online store. You can find a link to the actual jackfruit here. However, since every vegan I knew in my small state had said they couldn’t find it locally, I at first did not question them, and assumed the Asian Markets had been checked thoroughly since people had said they had looked there. Well, one day I decided to question that and see for myself. And low and behold, The Chinese American Mini Market in Cranston, RI had a big shelf of them, and they were less expensive than Vegan Essentials at $1.35 a can, as well as no shipping costs were needed. Hurray!

Another mistake I see people making is that there are two different types (maybe more, I don’t know) of Jackfruit. One is a sweeter, more fruit-like kind. It typically (if referring to Chaokoh brand which is the most commonly found canned brand) comes in a yellow container, like so:

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This can still be used for other types of recipes, but won’t work if you want to make a shredded meat-like recipe. Notice that the can also says it is in syrup.

Instead, you want to buy young green jackfruit in brine (or water if you find other brands).  I am assuming based on the differences between the two, that this form is not as developed as the other, maybe even not quite ripe yet. Here is a picture of what you are looking for:

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To make it easier to remember though, I made some handy graphics to keep in mind when looking for the meaty type of jackfruit:

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When preparing the jackfruit, you typically want to drain and rinse it before using. The easiest and best way I have found to shred it is to pulse it a few times in a food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, then it’s a good idea to simply follow the instructions the recipe usually includes that asks you to shred it with a fork, either before or after it is cooked.

Now, on to the recipes!

In books, my favorite recipes using jackfruit are from Bake and Destroy by Natalie Slater. She has a recipe for yummy bbq’d jackfruit in the crockpot (which I believe is called Cannibal Corpse Crock Pot) that she also uses on top of a yummy kale salad. She also has a recipe for a sweet potato and walnut jackfruit hash (which she calls “You Don’t Know Jack Hash”) which I absolutely loved. Check her and her book out!

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The jackfruit salad from Bake and Destroy

The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life by Melisser Elliott also has a really great vegan carnitas taco recipe in it.

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The jackfruit carnitas tacos

As far as websites go, here are my favorite, tried and true jackfruit recipes:

The V-Word (a fellow Mofo-er) has a mind blowing recipe for Vegan Philly Cheesesteak.

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Vegan Philly Jackfruit Cheesesteak!

Finally, one of my absolute favorite non-tuna salad sandwich recipes can be found here. It is amazing, and unfortunately gets gobbled up so fast every time I make it that I don’t have any pictures. It was a big hit by itself (without the melt part) at Girls Rock this past Summer amongst the volunteers!

And how could I forget? My very own Jackfruit Chick’un Noodle Soup!

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So, in conclusion, do not be afraid to try jackfruit. It’s really fun to use and delicious, and there are many recipes you can find. I hope this settles some of the confusion you might have had if you are a jackfruit newbie looking to find it and don’t know much about it, as well.

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5 responses

  1. I’m definitely gonna have to make that tuna melt some time. I’m usually lazy and just BBQ it (which rules!). The last time I was in Philly, I stumbled across whole, fresh jackfruit in a grocery store. I talked myself out of buying it because who am I to think I can guess what a good jackfruit looks like?! and also because they were enormous — probably 20 or 30 lbs each. I’m kicking myself, though, because I really want to find out what they’re like fresh.

    • I read that jackfruit are the largest tree growing fruits and can weigh up to 80 lbs! More fun facts for ya 🙂 it might be difficult to open, but if you can that’d be awesome! I wonder if it was the young green or the other kind? My guess is that if it was that big it wasn’t young green. But I don’t know.

      • I’m gonna guess they were young and green. But like I said, I’m shamefully ignorant about the fresh form of this utterly miraculous fruit in a can! One day, though, I will bring one home, and I will most definitely be channeling Gallagher.

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