Maybe you've been seeing the mysterious word "jackfruit" pop up on menus, the internet, and in the grocery store. But what the heck is jackfruit, is it a fruit, and how do you use it? 

What is jackfruit?

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First off, yes, jackfruit is truly classified as a fruit native to South and Southeast Asia, and has been popular in countries like India and Thailand for decades. 

Jackfruit grows on trees and ranges from 10-100 pounds per individual fruit, which is typically a green-yellow hue and covered in bumps. Rumor has it it's one of the largest tree-borne fruits on earth.

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A single fruit has hundreds of smaller yellow fruit lobes inside. Each lobe contains a nutrient-dense seed at its center and is surrounded by a flesh that is subtly sweet and soft when ripe.

What can you do with it?

Jackfruit can be sliced and eaten when ripe and is traditionally eaten in curries, stews, puddings, jams, or dried out to make a chewy fruit leather-like candy. 

If the fruit is gently shredded when underripe, it yields a texture uncannily similar to turkey or pulled pork

Lately, it's been blowing up the plant-based dining scene as a meat alternative, seen in everything from BBQ sliders, to crab cakes to tacos and lettuce wraps.

You can even buy it pre-marinated in BBQ sauce and ready to slap on a bun for a quick sandwich. 

I've used it to make vegan pulled BBQ pork sandwiches. To be honest, the texture was so close to meat (I haven't eaten meat in 16 years), it actually sort of weirded me out and I had a hard time eating it.

My mom (a carnivore) loved it, and deemed the unusual fruit-for-meat swap a success.

Is jackfruit good for you?

Actually, it's great for you. One cup has about 150 calories, 3 grams fiber, 3 grams protein, and is a rich source potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, thiamin (B1), magnesium and folate.

It's also got impressive amounts of vitamins A and E, iron, calcium, and other important B vitamins

And if you needed one more reason to love the once-humble jackfruit, it has recently gotten praise as a highly sustainable source of important nutrients with serious potential to fight hunger in low income countries

Now that's a sloppy joe to get jacked about.