Earth First

What Does Jackfruit Taste Like & How Do You Eat It?

Jackfruit can be enjoyed as a dessert, in a curry, mixed with barbecue sauce, and in so many other ways. But, what does Jackfruit taste like and how do you eat it? In all kinds of ways: for example, as crisp, rice flour coated fritters! This fruit seems to be able to transform itself in ways few other fruits can, so let’s take a look at some popular ways in which the jackfruit is eaten and cooked around the world.

What Does Jackfruit Taste Like?

Immature green jackruits are widely harvested for use as a vegetable in Asia, where Jackfruits grow in abundance. The flesh of the unripe jackfruit is white, and its aroma and taste are best described as neutral.

Mature jackfruit differs from the unripe fruit in colour, taste, smell, and nutrition. The fleshy bulbs of the ripe fruit can vary from light yellow to a bright orange depending on the cultivar. During the ripening process, the sugar (sucrose, glucose, and fructose) content increases significantly, and the quantity of organic acids reduces. Because of this, ripe jackfruits taste sweet.

Various volatile compounds contribute to the unique aroma attributed to ripe jackfruits (which a lot of people describe as acrid or unappetising). The texture of these bulbs is dense, and quite close to that of gummy candy.3

How To Eat Jackfruit

If you've never come across this popular Asian fruit yourself, you might be wondering how to eat jackfruit. In fact, due to their different texture and taste, ripe and unripe jackfruit are prepared and eaten in very different ways. 

How To Eat Unripe Jackfruit

Young jackfruit is cooked and used like potato, often as an accompaniment to meat, fish or eggs.1 In India and Bangladesh, jackfruit curries and side-dishes are quite popular. Depending on regional preferences, pieces of steamed, boiled, or fried jackfruit are combined with coconut, mustard, or other seasonal ingredients.

Javanese cuisine from Indonesia uses young jackfruit to prepare a dish called Gudeg.2 The fruit is cooked along with palm sugar and coconut milk for several hours and then mixed with various herbs and spices.2 In the Philippines, young jackfruit, together with coconut milk and seafood, is used in a stew called Ginataang langka.  

How To Eat Mature Jackfruit

Once the bulbs have been separated, ripe jackfruit does not need to be cooked and can be eaten without any further processing. However, it is also used in various Asian desserts such as the Filipino crushed ice and condensed milk dessert Halo-halo, the South Indian mini pancakes Chakka Nei Appam, and the Vietnamese pudding Ché. Given its high sugar content, the fruit is also processed into candies, syrups, juice concentrates, and preserves.1

Each Jackfruit fruit contains several egg-shaped seeds which are 2-3 cm in length. Unfortunately, the antinutritional effects of compounds found in raw seeds can lead to a number of digestion issues. Because of this, they are eaten after boiling or roasting, after which the seeds contain high amounts of starch and other digestible nutrients. Their taste and texture is often described as nutty.1

Eating Jackfruit as a meat substitute

The last couple of years have seen the (unripe) jackfruit’s rise as a meat substitute in countries where it is not native. Its pulled pork-like texture and neutral flavour have made it a favoured ingredient among consumers looking to cut down on their meat consumption.  The whole fruit is a common sight in Asian supermarkets in Europe, Australia, and the United States, but consumers often prefer to buy it preserved in brine and tinned. This is because cutting up the whole fruit is a tedious and messy process.

As a fruit, the jackfruit is quite nutrient-rich. Besides carbohydrates and fibre, it contains various micronutrients such as vitamins A and B, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and iron.4 However, every 100 grams of an edible portion contains only 2 to 2.6 grams of protein.4 Several other plant-based foods such as nuts, lentils or seeds provide significantly higher amounts (between 15 and 25 grams) of protein per 100 grams.

While the jackfruit does a good job at imitating the texture of meat, it cannot emulate meat or other protein-rich plant-based foods when it comes to nutrition and satiety value. Because of this, it is a good idea to complete a dish containing jackfruit with other foods that can provide protein in sufficient quantities. 

What does jackfruit taste like to you, and what's your favourite way to eat it? Tell us in the comments below!

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