May 10, 2016

Jackfruit: the Jackfruit Company

Tex-Mex jackfruit and leftover steamed cauliflower, simmering.

The first time I tried jackfruit was in a vegetarian restaurant in Madison, Wis. I had a  jackfruit quesadilla, and I loved it. That was several years ago, and it's taken me until recently to finally buy a can of jackfruit and make something in my kitchen. I don't know how the restaurant got the texture to be satisfyingly chewy, but the stuff that came from the can had a texture similar to silken tofu, and though I love tofu, the jackfruit gave me a slight case of mouth-shudders — the jackfruit was most unappealing to me. I suddenly understood why some people can't abide the consistency of tofu. Jackfruit is similar to tofu in that it picks up whatever flavor you throw its way, but for some reason, although the taste was delicious, I found the mouth feel off-putting. I had purchased the recommended type of canned jackfruit, cooked it as directed by my recipe, and failed to find it pleasant eating.



When the Jackfruit Company offered to send me coupons to try their refrigerated, prepared jackfruit, I was excited — maybe I would find a more user-friendly product than the canned variety. Here is a quote from the Web site:
Meet Jackfruit! It’s the largest tree-borne fruit in the world, with some weighing in at 100lbs or more. Our founder, Annie Ryu, is the visionary leader responsible for bringing this ancient commodity to the world market.

The Jackfruit Company story began in India, where Annie traveled in 2011 on a medical student mission. She saw her first Jackfruit at a local market. A closer inspection and taste piqued her curiosity about the fruit in the Indian diet. She learned that the majority of Jackfruit grown there went to waste, and despite its various uses the fruit wasn’t fulfilling its potential. Annie felt there had to be a way to use it to improve health, farmer’s livelihoods and our eco-footprint – so she did.

Annie is a social entrepreneur – a business developer with a conscience. She used her new knowledge about Jackfruit to develop it into a healthy main dish for vegans, vegetarians and anyone looking for nutritious meat replacements. It is soy, gluten, nut and cholesterol free. It is low calorie and rich in fiber, too. Because it is harvested before it ripens, there’s no sugar in the fruit. It adapts to spices and flavorings and looks like shredded meat, but it’s cruelty-free!

The Jackfruit Company, in partnership with Global Village Fruit, is now the largest supplier of Jackfruit products in the world. The jackfruit tree makes it easy to sustainably source. It is wholly adapted to its environment and doesn’t need to be replanted each year, inspiring farmers to plant even more trees as a future investment in their supply chain. Over 300 farms currently supply the fruit we use to create our delicious, meat-less meals. We continue to connect with families all over India to strengthen our farm to factory supply chain, growing by the hundreds to provide income and opportunity for thousands of farming families.

Homemade blue corn tortilla with jackfruit and toppings.

Sounds great, doesn't it? We acquired two flavors at Whole Foods with our free-product coupons — Tex-Mex and BBQ. Because we like tacos so much, we started with the Tex Mex flavor, and I made a batch of blue corn tortillas. The tacos were great, flavor-wise —the seasoned jackfruit perfectly complimented the other taco ingredients. But the texture was still mushy and unpleasant to my tongue. Maybe I just don't appreciate jackfruit, even though I want to. I think if you are already a jackfruit lover, having the makings of a few easy-to-prepare meals in the refrigerator would be a great time-saver.

Tex-Mex rice and veggies.

I'm not a quitter and don't give up easily — (I'm still trying to 'enjoy' fennel) — so I wanted to give the leftover jackfruit another chance. I made Tex-Mex rice for lunch. Sautéing the jackfruit seemed to firm it up a tiny bit, but not enough, though I did enjoy the great flavor of the dish. Even without adding any extra seasonings, the quarter cup or so of leftover jackfruit I added to the rice and veggies was enough to give it a wonderful taste.

Click on the photo to enlarge it for easier reading of the nutrition label.

We still have another package to try, and maybe I will become a jackfruit cheerleader, yet. Are you already a fan? My question to you is, if you cook with jackfruit, what is the texture you usually achieve, and what do you do, if anything, to create a more chewy texture?

Are you curious to try a Jackfruit Company product? I have two $1 off coupons to share. Check the Jackfruit Company store locator to see if the products are available near you, and if they are, and you'd like one of the coupons, mention it in your comment. I'll randomly select two people to get coupons — assuming there are more than two comments! Note that most, but not all, flavors are gluten-free, so check before buying if that is important to you.

6 comments:

  1. I would love a coupon! I am breastfeeding my daughter, and have discovered that I need to avoid soy and seitan to not have a screaming sad baby, and although jackfruit doesn't have protein, it seems to fulfill that "main dish" centerpiece that I am struggling with (beyond beans) right now.

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    1. I will happily send you the coupons if you email your mailing address to cookeasyvegan@gmail.com Good luck with the food issues! You could add protein (if you're worried) by adding protein powders to your diet, and by eating high protein foods like quinoa. Beans can be turned into some pretty surprising and delicious main dishes — one of these days I'm going to post about the hemp sausages I made from a Vegetarian Times recipe. http://bit.ly/1Wxd1k6

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  2. I've only ever tried jackfruit at restaurants etc and really enjoy it, but I've never managed to find a can to experiment with at home - I've only ever seen the stuff in syrup on sale. I'll be interested to see how package two turns out!

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    1. The best place to find it is in an Asian grocery store, but I suppose you've already tried that. I was quit happy with the taste, but the texture was too soft in an odd way. Even in the tortilla, I could feel the mushiness. I'll keep trying, though!

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  3. It's amazing that brands are now selling ready to eat jackfruit in stores. It wasn't even that long ago if I wanted to eat bbq jackfruit, I had to make it myself. The texture can be a bit soft which like you, I think can be improved upon somehow. Sautéing until there's no liquid does seem to improve the texture. Maybe try roasting next?

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    1. It really is surprising to see all the ready-to-eat vegan options, though I'm not so sure all the plastic packaging is a big improvement! When I cooked the canned jackfruit, I baked it in the oven, and it was still too soft — maybe a higher temperature would work better.

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