How to handle jackfruit — and three recipes to use with it!

January 31 | Guest post by Theresa

Today, we talk about JACKFRUIT! Those of you in Australia/NZ, Asia, and maybe even the southern US know what I'm talking about: the rest of us can find it canned or in Asian groceries — if you find the recipes as enticing as I did. -Cat

Sherbet jackfruit

Sherbet jackfruitNear our house is a botanical garden which includes a small, pathetic tropical fruit orchard. We visit every now and then, usually bringing home a few lemons, but not much else. Most of the things growing there are not super productive, because they aren't cultivated or cared for, and there is usually only one tree from each species. The trees are also labelled with nothing but a name (and sometimes not even that), so it's hard to know when things are ready for picking. A few months ago we grabbed a jackfruit, but when we cut it open it oozed so much latex that we got scared and threw it away. Then we saw Australian celebrity chef Luke Nguyen make a salad with green, unripe jackfruit. He talked briefly about how to cook it. That was enough to inspire us to have another go.

We learned from our first experience, and our second visit to the jackfruit trees was replete with secateurs and plastic bags so the latex didn't get all over the inside of my bike bags! Since there were two varieties of jackfruit growing, we decided to get one fruit from each.

We got home and furiously googled how to work with green jackfruit. We re-watched Luke Nguyen, surprised at how little he actually had to say about cooking the unripe fruit. But mainly, we improvised.

Preparing for the mess

The first step was to lay a whole lot of newspaper down. These are messy fruits, oozing latex similar to wood glue, and when THAT congeals the fruit drips brownish liquid. We coated the knife and Andy's hands with cooking oil, which keeps the latex from getting a grip (mostly). And then we cut.

Cutting

We used a shitty, second-hand steak knife for fear of ruining a good knife with latex. Turns out we didn't have to worry — we used more cooking oil to clean up later.

Cutting

The cooking!

In the name of scientific experimentation, we cut some big chunks and some little. We put the fruit into the pressure cooker, because the idea of boiling for 45 minutes was not appealing. Our pressure cooker isn't big enough for two jackfruit, so we did a few batches, which let us play around with cooking time. 10 minutes seemed to be good for the big chunks, and seven or so for the smaller bits.

Messy process

Once jackfruit are cooked, they must be processed. We cut off the peel and the core. And we found that our jackfruit had two sections with very different textures, so we separated them out.

Cooked jackfruit

Around the core are a whole bunch of seeds, surrounded by seedpods. These were similar in texture to cooked potato. Filling in the gaps between the seed pods, and out to the skin, was some shreddy stuff — sort of like an artichoke, but also a lot like cooked, shredded chicken. When our two jackfruit were done, we had two BIG bowls of each texture.

Processing jackfruits

The recipes

We put some in Ziploc bags to share with our more adventurous friends, and then hosted a Jackfruit Dinner Party! Again, I looked all over the internet for recipes, but we mainly improvised. Andy put together a jackfruit and tofu Salad, based ever so loosely on Luke Nguyen's recipe that inspired this whole thing. Andy's salad also had mango, and peanuts, and skipped a few of Luke's ingredients. For this salad, we used only the shreddy bits. This was a party favourite — it was sweet and salty and spicy, fresh, and light, perfect for the tropical summer.

Jackfruit & Tofu salad

In a sort of cross between Indian and Thai cuisine, I made a curry from the seed pods (with the seeds cut out, because they have a plastic-y skin which is not very nice). They cooked for just a few minutes in a sauce made from coconut cream, fresh turmeric, ginger, cumin seeds, and chilli.

Jackfruit curry

And the final dish was BBQ jackfruit, which made its way around the vegan blog world a few years ago as a substitute for pulled pork, using tinned jackfruit. Fresh is obviously much better.

BBQ Jackfruit

For this, I made a batch of BBQ sauce (I used a recipe for tamarind BBQ sauce from the cookbook Urban Vegan, but really any sauce will do), and then added some shreddy bits of jackfruit and let it simmer and soak. The longer you can let this sit, the better it will be, so I cooked it the day before the dinner party and then warmed it back up.

We were all really happy with how versatile and yummy jackfruit is. I even invited a few ripe jackfruit haters, and they were surprised at how different it is when it's cooked like a vegetable. It was a lot of work, and messy, but considering how much food you get off of just one fruit, it's totally worth it. Anyways — how cool is it to pick fruit from a park and turn it into dinner?

  1. Awesome! I've seen these for sale in the produce market near our house, but I've never known what to do with them. I can't wait to try it out!

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  2. This looks awesome! I've seen it on global food shows and it looked funky. Looks yummy here!

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  3. I'm totally weirded out by the look of the jackfruit. What does it taste like? Is it mild, or does it have a flavor similar to other things? The jackfruit releases latex? Does the latex get on the fruit and impart a rubbery flavor? I guess it tasted good if you guys ate all that, but the process just freaks me out. But totally awesome on getting a main ingredient for dinner for free and producing so much variety!

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    • Hi Amy – it tastes like not much while its still unripe like this. Very plain, starchy potatoey kind of texture more than flavour. That's why its so versatile, I think!

      The latex comes from the core and the skin, mainly, and it didn't seem to affect the flavour of the cooked jackfruit.

      It was a lot of work, but fun to do, mainly just for the experience :)

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    • Oh, and, you can buy it in tins, from Asian (and maybe Caribbean?) grocery stores. Then it's already cut, cooked, and peeled, and all you have to do is add it to recipes.

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      • Thanks for the info! Also, thanks for tackling this fruit for our benefit. Sounds like a fun culinary experience :)

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  4. FYI – the reason vegan bloggers use canned jackfruit is because it doesn't have much of a flavor, as it was picked and canned before ripe. You may have flavor issues making BBQ jackfruit from the fresh kind.

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    • You still have to use it when it's very underripe, otherwise it goes fruity and has a kind of pineappley flavour, and the texture changes, too.

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  5. Incredible! I really hope I get to try jackfruit in at least one of these days sometime :)

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  6. Hi !
    You can use the seeds of Jackfruit, just remove the white skin & then the brown skin, chop it up and boil / stir fry.. with some salt nd pepper, its YUM. Of all the parts of the jackfruit its my personal favourite.

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    • Totally true, they're really nice sliced thin on a mandolin too and toasted. Kinda like almonds! I love that almost the entire fruit is useful for something.

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  7. Hi all. I have a huge tree in my garden on a farm in Nelspruit. I have picked one huge one weighing inn at 8kg and have no nidea what to do with it. As they say trail and error. Please can someone suggest some receipts as I am having some guests over from Sweden. Very scary looking fruit and have heard they really smell so don't want my guests to leave before the braai. lol HELP and Thank you

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  8. why did my pulled pork taste so vinergerry

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  9. I just purchased a half of a jackfruit from Super G Mart (think it's local to North Carolina) after hearing some fellow vegetarian / vegans talking about jackfruit at a recent meetup. They were talking about the BBQ that you could make from it.

    Your post is the first and only one I've found, so far, that shows an actual cooking of the raw jackfruit. All others just show cutting it and removing the pods and throwing away the rest, which is what I did for this first try. Some saved the seeds and boiled them later.

    Because it is so expensive, when / if I buy it again in the raw, I may try your method with the cooking. Otherwise, I will try looking for the canned to make the pulled BBQ. I know one thing, buying it raw sure is a lot of work, if you are only going to use the pods. That and the cost of buying it raw, makes me think I probably won't be buying it very often. But it was fun to do.

    Don't know if it was because I bought an already cut piece or what but I had very little latex.

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