For the Love of Jackfruit: Adventures with a Very Exotic Fruit!
I don’t know about you, but I’m getting bored. One look around this website and it’s pretty clear I’m a wanderluster. I love the thrill of the open road, planning my next trip, or eagerly adding places to check off of my bucket list. Then, COVID-19 hit. We’re in a worldwide emergency and the USA isn’t looking too good. While several seem to be comfortable with resuming their travels, many, like myself, have chosen to stay closer to home. Can you blame me? Even when I do venture out, it’s a whole new world. One met with “Closed” signs and reminders to wear your mask.
That being said, these times have meant getting creative at home. I was thrilled to recently partner with Melissa’s Produce and my dear friends, Stacey and Robin, for a fun cooking adventure. We all were intrigued at the thought of cooking with a Jackfruit. An exotic tropical fruit that boasts a strong odor and is in no way shrinking violet. Check it out!
What IS a Jackfruit?
I had my first taste of a Jackfruit while in Maui. Commonly prepared as a vegan BBQ “pork” slider, I was instantly hooked with its shredded texture. The naturally bold flavor paired greatly with BBQ sauce, and even Mike marveled at how “meaty” a fruit could be. I’ve subsequently enjoyed purchasing it packaged or canned for easy go-to meals like a Thai curry or sandwiches. When it’s very ripe, it’s ideal for desserts like ice cream and smoothies.
While I thought mine was a whopper at about 15 pounds, a Jackfruit can come in at up to 100 pounds. Indigenous to India and Bangladesh, they’re also grown in Southeast Asia. You’ll often find Jackfruit trees in Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia. Since it thrives in the tropics, it can also grow in areas like Florida.
Preparing a Jackfruit
Since I’ve bought Jackfruit packaged at the store, I figured receiving my own to cut up and prep wouldn’t be that bad. Let’s just say it was an adventure. There are very specific ways to cut it up just right, and you do need to be prepared for its rich odor. As a first timer, I did the best I could maneuvering it and highly recommend this video that Stacey made sure we watched.
It’s rinds are sharp, and the more ripe the Jackfruit, the more sticky and strong it will be. I also suggest wearing gloves as it can stain your skin. Despite being a bit intimidated, it’s still worth the effort to say you’ve cut up your own, at-least once.
For inspiration beyond a shredded vegan slider, Melissa’s has an awesome page of recipes including a sundae. If you’re a little nervous at the thought of your very own big guy arriving at the door, Melissa’s conveniently makes fresh tutti-frutti pods that are ready to enjoy.
The History of Melissa’s Produce
While many flock to LA landmarks like the Original Farmers Market, Melissa’s Produce is in a league of its own. Step into a warehouse of nearly 300,000 square feet just south of Downtown LA and you’ll be surrounded by fresh foods, much of it organic, every where you turn. A paradise for the professional and amateur chefs, let your imagination run wild in this culinary candy store.
Founded by Joe and Sharon Hernandez, the couple had over a decade of produce industry expertise under their belts. It’s hard to comprehend that Melissa’s began as a small, rented produce warehouse lunchroom. Their original space had a modest three telephones and four chairs! Within a few years, Melissa’s would grow to occupy a newly renovated and expanded 280,000 square foot office, warehouse complex, and state-of-the-art CCOF/QAI Certified Organic Packing Facility.
While paying a visit should be a “must” if in LA, Melissa’s offers a variety of shipping options for those out of the area. From next day air to ground shipping, gift baskets to customizable organic boxes, consider Melissa’s next time you’re in search of a tasty gift either for loved ones or yourself.
(*Disclosure: Special thanks to Melissa’s Produce for their generosity and products in support of this feature!)