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What is Jackfruit and is it a good meat substitute?

Grown in south East Asia and parts of Brazil, the jackfruit is the largest tree-borne fruit in the world. Jackfruit has a hard green skin covered in a spiky raised pebble-like structure. A small jackfruit can weigh five to seven kilos, the largest can reach up to thirty-five kilos. It is a strange looking fruit; the kind of fruit you imagine the “Star Trek” crew encountered while stranded on a new planet. Ripe jackfruit has an unpleasant aroma, yet once opened, it smells like a combination of banana and pineapple. Some people even think it smells like bubble gum or sweets. The fruit seeds are enclosed in large bulbs of yellow flesh. Single jackfruit can have anywhere from one hundred to five hundred of these bulbs.The sweet ripe jackfruit is used in ice creams and deserts, while the green or unripe jackfruit is perfect for savoury dishes. It is the green jackfruit that has gained notoriety as a meat substitute, a surge in popularity fueled by increased interest in vegan, and plant food diets. In the U.K Food outlets like "Club Mexican" and “Spice Box” sell their own version of Jackfruit dishes, while the plant-based frozen meal company “Allplants” delivers a jackfruit meal as one of their selections. “Essential Foods”, the Bristol-based ethical food co-op that supplies many of the UK’s health food shops sell their own brand of tinned organic green jackfruit. Ethnic shops have been selling both the green and ripe jackfruit in tins for years along with fresh and sometimes frozen versions. When it comes to taste the green jackfruit has very little flavour. This means it is remarkably easy to re-create your favourite meat dishes as the jackfruit takes on the flavour of the seasonings that are added to it. Slow cooked jackfruit has a texture similar to shredded meat; it is this texture and appearance that make it such a popular meat substitute and gives it the “wow” factor. Pulled jackfruit instead of pulled pork has become a vegan Instagram star. Here is some I cooked earlier   Nutritionally Jackfruit is a powerhouse, rich in potassium, zinc and fibre. It also contains vitamin C and is one of the few fruits that contain B vitamins. It has very few calories and has no saturated fat or cholesterol. Jackfruit is a perfect meat substitute except that it has very little protein. One hundred grams of jackfruit contains only 1.7 grams of protein compared to quorn, which provide 14.5 grams per 100 grams or black beans that contain a massive 21 grams per 100 grams.  This doesn’t mean jackfruit isn’t a great food choice and as a meat substitute. It passes on flavour, texture, and versatility not to mention the fact that it’s really insta-photogenic but as a protein source it scores low. Serving another protein source with your jackfruit easily solves this.

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