Sign in to comment!

Menu
Home

Chew on This

Is jackfruit really the pulled pork of vegans?

There are a lot meat substitutes out there that purport to taste as good as the real deal. 

But there's an Asian fruit that's come a serious alternative for meaty and savory protein. 

Jackfruit is the largest tree-borne fruit on the planet (these beasts can weigh up to 75 pounds) and is indigenous to South America and South-east Asia. 

It's got a tough, green, knobby exterior, sticky sap and odd looking seed pods that taste like a cross between a pineapple and a pear. 

But in its unripened form --and after several hours of brining and basting and baking--a meaty like substance that looks something like pulled pork is created.

Jackfruit has started appearing on the menus of hip restaurant and mainstream barbecue joints around the country, including Baltimore's Blue Pit and San Francisco's Sneaky's BBQ. They even sold a jackfruit BBQ sandwich to Super Bowl ticket holders at Levi’s Stadium this month. 

The process to prepare the jackfruit into something resembling barbecue is pretty time consuming, that is if you can find the raw ingredients.  The jackfruit is usually sold either in a can or in a bag soaking in brine. (Chinese food markets are your best bet.)  

But there are a handful of food purveyors that sell pre-made, pre-seasoned barbecue-style jackfruit. 

Now, we love our pulled pork (and all types of BBQ), so we were a bit skeptical.  So, we decided to take Upton's Naturals BBQ flavor to the streets of New York City--and were kind of shocked by the response.

"I'm a fan," said one woman.

"I like the actual pork, but this is a really good substitute," said another taster.

The jackfruit had the consistency of barbecue and tasted of barbecue.  It was smokey, tangy and had a hint of sweetness, but at the end of the day, you  knew it wasn't real barbecue.

For vegans or those who want to cut the cholesterol or meat consumption, it's a decent alternative. 

But not everyone we spoke to was a fan. One person described it as eating bamboo.  Another man, well, he had no words.