Meet the jackfruit, the trendiest ingredient around

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Catch you later kale and bye-bye broccoli – if you’re into vegan food, you’ll have noticed this key ingredient, jackfruit, popping up all over the place…

Veganism is big business. In fact, around 3.5million people in the UK identify as such – around seven per cent of the population. So perhaps it’s no surprise that enterprising chefs and restauranteurs are coming up with ever more creative veggie substitutes, that are plant-based, taste good and are excellent for you, too.

But as with most things, food goes in waves. So we’ve seen the rise of avocado, of milk alternatives, of cauliflower – and now, we’re seeing a proliferation of jackfruit as a vegan substitute on menus.

“Jackfruit is a tree-born fruit, which has become one of the trendiest meat-alternatives over the last year. It originates from the rainforests of Southeast Asia, but due to its soaring popularity, it is now produced in Florida, Hawaii, and Australia. The fruit weighs between 40-50 kg and its meat is fresh and sweet,” says Kajsa Ernestam, in-house dietitian at global health app Lifesum.

It makes for a good meat substitute because its texture is somewhat similar, becoming stringy when cooked, and as it doesn’t have a strong flavour itself, it’s a good vehicle for sauces and spices. Genesis is a new trendy vegan eatery in Shoreditch, featuring jackfruit on its menu in the form of tacos.

Alex Santoro is the restaurant’s co-founder . “We saw the potential in the texture and spiced it up to use in a completely different way to what we had seen others doing – at Genesis we serve jackfruit in a crispy Peking duck style, loaded with crispy jackfruit, hoisin mayo, cucumber and spring onion,” he says. “I think it’s cool because it’s quite new to most people, and it’s gluten and soy-free so it’s a good natural healthy meat substitute. Plus, it’s rich in vitamin A and antioxidants, and it helps to regulate blood sugar.”

And the health benefits don’t end there. “The meat of the fruit is a good source of protein,” Kajsa says, “providing more than 3g per cup. Plus, one cup of jackfruit contains around 18 per cent of RDI of Vitamin C.” It’s also a good source of fibre, she says, which is beneficial as it “helps with digestion and reduces cholesterol levels. Fibre also soaks up water in the intestine, slowing the absorption of nutrients and thus helps us feel fuller for longer, helping with weight loss and keeping energy levels up.”

If you don’t like the fruit itself, try snacking on the seeds – “they’re packed with zinc, iron, calcium, copper, potassium, and magnesium,” Kajsa says.

So there you have it. We know what we’ll be ordering at dinner.

By Charlotte

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