Know Jack

Make amazing barbecue from a tropical fruit.

Learning how to cook with jackfruit will change your grilling options.

A tropical tree common in India and Southeast Asia, jackfruit is a versatile, nutritious plant whose giant fruits—the world’s largest, weighing 25 to 100 pounds each—are commonly used to make both smoothies and barbecue. 

Wait, what?

Ripe jackfruit is sweet and tastes like a mashup of mango, banana, and pineapple—hence the smoothies and dessert preparations, like candy and ice cream. But young jackfruit has a very mild flavor and a texture remarkably similar to shredded pork, making it a good alternative to meat in curry and barbecue dishes. 

Kevin Church, the executive chef at Postbellum and Oak and Apple in Richmond, prefers jackfruit to other meatless options, like soy or mushrooms, saying the texture of jackfruit “is awesome. It pulls/shreds really well. The flavor of the unripe jackfruit is just strong enough to hold up to the bold flavors of smoke and BBQ sauces.” He says breaking down a whole jackfruit is “a rather arduous process,” so they buy it canned.  

To prepare jackfruit, says Church, “we toss them in our signature dry rub and a bit of oil, then smoke on perforated pans. It doesn’t smoke for very long, as it ‘soaks up’ the smoke and caramelizes pretty quickly.”

Look for jackfruit in the produce or canned section of your grocery store. Use green, or unripe, jackfruit packed in brine for savory foods, and ripe fruit packed in syrup for desserts. OakAndAppleRichmond.com

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