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Pulled Jackfruit: A meat substitute

An increasing number of people are choosing a (partially) vegetarian diet, or they are trying to decrease the amount of meat they eat. Before, this kind of dietary choice was made mainly for animal welfare of health reasons. Now, more and more people are choosing this path for environmental reasons. If you are full up to your ears with tofu cubes and soy burgers. Are you are craving a pulled pork sandwich? Then you can always give Jackfruit a try.

Edwin Janssen with newly-arrived Jackfruit.

What is Jackfruit?
“Jackfruit is a two-sided fruit that, unripe, is sold as a vegetable, and ripe as a fruit,” says Edwin Janssen, a salesman at the Dutch exotics importer, Bud-Holland. “Jackfruit comes from Southeast Asia. We import this fruit from Thailand by plane. It has become more popular in the last six months. We used to sell 30 to 40 boxes per week. Currently, this stands at 60-100 boxes. We sell the fruit per piece because one Jackfruit can weigh anything between 7 and 15kg. This fruit is also rich in vitamins A, B6 and C, calcium, iron, and potassium.”

Why the increase in popularity?
“Jackfruit is mostly used as a meat substitute because the fruit’s flesh feels very similar to meat. It is mostly used as an alternative to pulled pork. This can only be done with unripe Jackfruit. The advantage of unripe Jackfruit is that you can use the entire inside of the fruit to prepare this ‘pulled pork’ substitute. That is why we try to import as much unripe Jackfruit from Thailand as possible. We also sell it as such. Jackfruit is unique as a meat substitute because of the fruit flesh’s structure.”

Peeled Jackfruit.

Why can you not use ripe Jackfruit for this?
“The fruit tastes far more intense once it ripens. You also prepare it differently. Another reason to not use ripe Jackfruit as a meat substitute is the cost. Jackfruit is quite expensive - about €60 to 70 for the whole fruit. Of the unripe Jackfruit, you can use around 70-90%. Of the ripe Jackfruit, you are only left with 20 to 30% of the fruit,” explains Edwin.

That makes for a lot of waste…
“That is so, which is why we offer to peel the fruit for our clients. We do this mostly with the ripe Jackfruit. Because of the size of the fruit, consumers should not buy a jackfruit to make vegetarian 'pulled pork’. You will have food for the whole family for an entire week. We, ourselves, do not offer Jackfruit in small portions. Some of our clients to do so for the market.”

One box = One fruit.

Where does this Jackfruit go?
“We export Jackfruit all over Europe. It goes mainly to restaurants, tokos, and wholesale users that want to do something special now and then. Its rising popularity is not attributed to one of our specific target groups. It is increasing across the board. We sell a small amount to a retailer that sells this product in his store. Where that is concerned, it is a real niche market.”

And in Thailand itself?
“It is used a lot in dishes there. Not per se as a meat substitute. The local cuisine is already far more vegetarian than ours. In the Netherlands, Jackfruit will remain a niche market. That is mostly due to the size and price of the fruit,” Edwin concludes. (TD)

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Bud Holland 
Transportweg 67
2676 LM Maasdijk
Tel: +31 (0) 174-535353
[email protected]