Home > Magazine > ChaiTime > THE RISE OF THE JACKFRUIT



Compiled/partly written by Melvin Durai Email Compiled/partly written by Melvin Durai
July 2016

A few decades ago, mangoes rarely showed up in American grocery stores, and when they did, they were often priced too high for the average shopper. These days, they’re almost always available, sometimes priced at 50 cents each or lower.

Could the same thing be happening to the jackfruit? The canned varieties are widely distributed, and fresh jackfruit seems to be showing up in more places. But what’s really driving interest in the jackfruit industry is young (unripe) jackfruit.

As Emily Stephenson writes on the website Eater. com, young jackfruit is gaining popularity among vegetarians, particularly for its meat-like texture. Unripe jackfruit, much of it coming from India, is being marketed by several companies as a meat substitute.

“As veganism becomes a more visible part of the American diet, long time vegans and new converts still look for ways to replicate old favorites, and jackfruit’s texture and ease of preparation when canned makes it an obvious candidate to catch on quickly,” Stephenson writes. “It also doesn’t hurt that it is soy- and grainfree, unlike tofu and seitan, the other most popular and widely available substitutes.”

One U.S. company, the Jackfruit Company, sells several ready-to-eat jackfruit meals in pouches, including Teriyaki Jackfruit, Curry Jackfruit, Tex-Mex Jackfruit, and BBQ Jackfruit. Annie Ryu, founder of the company, told Stephenson that she sees “so much potential” for jackfruit as a meat alternative.

[Comments? Contributions? We would love to hear from you about Chai Time. If you have contributions, please email us at melvin@melvindurai.com. We welcome jokes, quotes, online clips and more.]

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