Find out all you need to know about how to cook jackfruit and why you should be eating it. We've also got some vegan-friendly jackfruit recipes to try too.
Jackfruit has grown in popularity over recent years due to plant-based diets becoming more and more common. As many of us are making a conscious effort to lower our intake of meat and opt for vegetarian or vegan food instead, ingredients like jackfruit are stepping in as a great alternative.
When cooked, jackfruit curiously has a likening to pulled pork. If you haven’t had the opportunity to see jackfruit in the flesh, they’re quite extraordinary. The fruit is huge, with hundreds of spikes all over the skin.
Our guide covers everything you need to know about cooking this unusual fruit at home including how to prepare, how to cook in the oven and the health benefits of eating jackfruit too…
*Where does jackfruit come from?
*How to prepare jackfruit
*How to prepare ripe jackfruit
*How to prepare young jackfruit
*How to cook jackfruit
*How to cook jackfruit: In a pan
*How to cook jackfruit: In the oven
*How to cook jackfruit: In a slow cooker
*What are the health benefits of eating jackfruit?
*Our favourite jackfruit recipes
Despite it being relatively new to us, jackfruit was cultivated in India around 6000 years ago. This fruity favourite is the national fruit of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. It’s also grown in Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam, Malaysia, and Thailand. It likes warm climates, so can also be grown in some southern parts of America too.
A jack tree grows as tall as 80 feet and mature trees can bear as many as 500 jackfruits in a single year. Jackfruit is the largest fruit grown on trees, with some reaching a whopping 1 meter in length and can weigh a staggering 50kg. When ripe, the fleshy pods inside are bright yellow and sweet. They have a unique mild flavour; almost a hybrid of several tropical fruits like banana, pineapple, and mango combined.
In the UK, it’s uncommon to see fresh jackfruit, perhaps in Asian supermarkets or on specialist market stalls in bigger cities, but certainly not in your local Sainsbury’s or Tesco. That being said, young, or unripened jackfruit is now widely available in tins, and you will most likely spot them on supermarket shelves up and down the country.
If you do manage to get your hands on a fresh jackfruit, firstly, be aware that it contains natural latex, so if you have a latex allergy, make sure you wear gloves when handling.
How you prepare jackfruit will depend on what you are planning to do with it, and whether you buy a young or an older fruit.
A ripe jackfruit will have a yellowish, spiky skin and can be eaten just like any tropical fruit; as breakfast, a snack, or in desserts.
Depending on the size of the jackfruit, you may buy this already portioned into wedges, if not, here’s what you need to do:
- The inside of jackfruit is quite sticky, so it’s recommended to oil a sharp cooks knife to make the process easier – some recommend oiling the outside of the fruit too.
- Carefully, but firmly cut the fruit in half lengthwise, and then quarter.
- Remove the tough core to make it easier, this will reveal the bright yellow fruit pods – which are what you’re going to eat. Pluck the pods out, removing the fibrous skin on the outside, and the seed on the inside, and wash under cold water.
- The seeds are also edible and many people boil these and add to curries or stews, or roast them as a snack.
Young jackfruit is much tougher, with pale flesh and a less-developed flavour, this is why it’s mainly used for cooking, as it carries strong flavours extremely well. It’s the young, green jackfruit with the fibrous consistency that imitates meat. It’s most commonly found in the UK already prepared in tins from brands like Biona, Cooks and Co, and Natures Charm, which makes it perfect for a quick meal fix.
If you do get hold of young jackfruit, they’re just as easy to prepare than ripe ones, but a lot stickier with resin that can stain.
- As with ripe jackfruit, oil your knife, this time a sharp pairing or serrated knife. You can also lightly oil the hand that will be touching the fruit, or wear gloves.
- This time, instead of cutting it in half, treat it more like pineapple and cut away the skin.
- Slice into smaller wedges, lengthwise, and remove the woody center. Slice the wedges into cubes and rinse under water.
When it comes to cooking this curious ingredient, it’s actually super easy, and extremely versatile. It cooks fairly quickly – so great for a super speedy supper, but you can also cook it low and slow in a variety of dishes.
If you’re cooking with fresh jackfruit, see above on how to prepare it. If you’re using tinned jackfruit, simply drain and rinse under cold water before using it.
Pan-frying is a fast and efficient way to cook jackfruit.
- Simply fry sliced onions in a pan with a little oil, add minced garlic, 1 chopped red pepper, and cook for 5-7 mins.
- Add 1 tin of drained jackfruit, along with a splash of water and a couple of tbsp of bbq sauce.
- Cook over medium heat, breaking up the jackfruit with a spoon, for 10 mins, or until the jackfruit is tender.
A great filling for jackfruit tacos, serve with slices of avocado and corn tortillas.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6.
- Shred the jackfruit with two forks and place it on a lined baking tray.
- Drizzle with oil and season with salt, pepper, and any herbs and spices you like – you can also incorporate other vegetables or pulses, such as chickpeas here.
- Roast in the oven for 30-40 mins, forking halfway through.
Serve in pita bread, buns, on top of baked potatoes, or with a side of fries.
Adapt your favourite slow cooker recipe, by substituting the meat or main vegetable for jackfruit.
Add all of the ingredients to the bowl of a slow cooker, cook on high for 2-3 hrs before shredding the jackfruit and mixing again. Serve with rice, bread, or seasonal vegetables.
Although jackfruit isn’t the best protein substitute for vegan alternatives to meat, it does come loaded with a whole host of other benefits. It’s rich in Vitamin C and Magnesium, which is thought to possibly reduce the risk of many health problems like high blood pressure and heart disease.
One cup of this lovely stuff contains just 155 calories when raw, so is also useful if you’re trying to stick to a low-calorie plan. The same quantity also contains 2.4g protein, 2.6g fiber, and 39.6g carbohydrates.
There are lots of things you can make with jackfruit. You can make chips out of the flesh by roasting it, cook it up into jam, and even process it into flour.
If you’re looking for jackfruit recipes we’ve been busy developing a couple of real staple meal ideas that use this tropical ingredient as their main focus.
Jackfruit pulled pork tacos
Jackfruit pulled pork is a great vegan twist on this classic American recipe. The fruit has a fab fibrous texture that holds the sauce really well. We’ve gone for using tinned jackfruit in this recipe, to make it really easy.
Get the recipe: Jackfruit pulled pork tacos
Pulled jackfruit hoisin pancakes
Anything you can do with shredded meat you can pretty much do with jackfruit. This Chinese classic is delicious when made with jackfruit, and ready in no time at all.
Get the recipe: Hoisin pancakes