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What Is Jackfruit, and How Do You Cook With It?

Photo: Urs Flueeler / EyeEm / Getty

If you've noticed a large, green fruit in your produce section, it may be jackfruit. Jackfruit grows readily in warm climates and is being looked to as a solution for eating greener, and cleaner, in the coming years. Plus, it shreds easily, making it a meatless substitution for pulled pork or on nachos. 

If you haven't heard of or tried this newly popular southeast Asian fruit yet, prepare to be amazed. Jackfruit can be cooked while unripe in curries and sauces or while ripe by adding it to desserts, making it one of the most versatile fruits on the market. Its texture shreds easily, making it a natural meatless addition to tacos, nachos, salads, and even imitation pulled pork sandwiches. Vegetarians, vegans, and those wanting the texture of pork without the ridiculous calories it brings can all rejoice!

Photo: Jennifer Causey

Get the Recipe: Jackfruit Tostadas

Where Can I Buy It?

Slowly but surely getting easier to find, canned jackfruit is available in most Asian grocery stores and some health food stores. When buying jackfruit, skip the gigantic fresh ones and stick to canned. Be sure to choose a type labeled "young jackfruit in brine" because some jackfruit is canned in sugary syrup.

How do I Prep It?

When you're ready to cook jackfruit, drain and rinse the jackfruit. It has a hard core that needs to be cut off and thrown away, leaving you with the soft (easily shreddable) edges.

Using your fingers or two forks, finely shred the jackfruit until it resembles pulled chicken or pork.

Ways to Use Jackfruit

How to Make Jackfruit Taquitos

You can actually eat the jackfruit once it's shredded, but for the best texture we recommend heating it for several minutes in a pan over medium-high heat to evaporate excess moisture. Then toss in whatever sauce you'd like. The possibilities are endless, but here we went simple with some barbecue sauce. Try tossing cooked jackfruit in curries, adding an array of spices, or stirring into marinara for a meatier spaghetti sauce, without the meat.

Nutrition Benefits

Jackfruit doesn't have any real nutritional benefits besides being a very low calorie alternative to meat, so be sure to pair it with a good source of protein. For example, we threw ours on top of a baked sweet potato with cooked spinach. Vegetarians would benefit from a dollop of plain Greek yogurt atop, and vegans might enjoy a spoonful of hummus instead.

Photo: Jamie Vespa

Get the Recipe: Vegan Loaded BBQ Nachos

Below is the nutritional break down for a serving of jackfruit from one can of Aroy-D brand (with no sauce or accompaniments). Most cans (depending on how big the inedible core is) contain about 1 cup of usable jackfruit, which comes out to two servings:

SERVES: 2 CALORIES 70; FAT 3.5 g (sat 0g); PROTEIN 0g; CARB 7g; FIBER 1.5g; SUGARS 0g; CHOL 0mg; SODIUM 298mg