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Curious on how to prepare jackfruit for recipes? Follow this step-by-step guide for delicious, tender pulled jackfruit to use in your favorite recipes!
If you’ve ever opened a can of jackfruit before– you know it can be a little intimidating to figure out how to go from inedible, briny triangles to tender, pulled BBQ. Today I want to show you my step-by-step guide on how to make jackfruit, including how to freeze it!
Since this process takes a little bit of effort, I recommend making a big batch and then freezing into individual bags for easy meal prep. The entire process does take some time, but it’s fairly hands off and easy. It’s foolproof in creating the most delicious tasting jackfruit that you can use in sandwiches, tacos, bowls or anywhere you want to enjoy the pulled BBQ like flavor.
These days, you can find jackfruit in most well-stocked grocery stores. However, I almost always purchase jackfruit from Trader Joe’s or a local Asian grocery store as the price is so much better than what I can find at my local grocery store. These cans are only $1.99 compared to $3-4 each at my grocery store.
Note that you’ll want to ensure that you are grabbing jackfruit in brine or in water– not in syrup. The sweet, syrupy kind won’t work in these savory recipes. You can find it on Amazon as well if you don’t have an International grocery store or Trader Joe’s near you.
Once you grab the jackfruit, it should look like the above when you open it. Not exactly appetizing, is it? This jackfruit prep school is what you need in order to create delicious jackfruit.
Drain the jackfruit, then place in a large stock-pan and cover with water. As I mentioned earlier, I highly recommend making more than one can of jackfruit for easy meal prep. I typically do ~6-10 cans at a time, depending on who I’m serving and how much of a freezer stash I already have.
Bring the water and jackfruit to a boil, then cook for 45 minutes. This helps to remove any tinned or metallic taste that canned jackfruit (and other canned goods) can typically have. I’ve made jackfruit like this and compared it to jackfruit I’ve prepared when I haven’t done this and it really does make a big difference in the overall taste.
If you’ve already had jackfruit and don’t think you like it, I urge you to try it prepared like this before swearing it off.
Once the jackfruit has boiled, drain it and rinse with cold water so it’s cool enough to handle.
Using your hands, a knife, or a potato masher, begin to shred the jackfruit into silky strains. If using your hands, pick up the softened jackfruit and pull apart then place back into the drained stock pan. If using a knife, then gently chop, using your hands as needed to pull apart the fruit. You can also use a potato masher and mash the jackfruit; it should shred fairly easily.
After doing this for all of the jackfruit, cover again in the saucepot with water and bring back to a boil. Cook a second time for 30 minutes; this second cook helps to really tenderize the jackfruit and give it that pulled, tender BBQ texture.
Drain the mixture one more time and rinse again with cold water. Let sit until cool enough to handle, then pick up a small handful of the jackfruit and squeeze, removing as much water as possible. It’s just as if you were squeezing water from thawed from frozen spinach or shredded zucchini before making zucchini bread. You want to remove as much water as possible so the jackfruit can soak up the yummy cooking sauce and not become soggy.
You can see in the photo above how dry the mixture becomes after you’ve squeezed as much water out as possible. For reference, the above bowl is 6 cans of jackfruit prepared this way. I know some people don’t like the bulb sections of the fruit, but I can’t tell a difference once it’s cooked and think it’s silly to throw away perfectly good fruit just for appearance.
If you want to freeze what you’ve just prepped; then place in freezer-safe bags then lay flat and squeeze out as much air as possible. I do the straw-trick to vacuum seal the bag: after you’ve pressed out as much air as possible, insert a straw into the corner of the bag and seal around the straw. Then suck the air through the straw until the bag collapses around the jackfruit and no visible air is left.
While still maintaining some sort of suction, slowly pull out the straw and quickly seal the rest of the bag. Ta-da! Who needs a fancy vacuum seal machine when all you need is a straw?
Place the bags flat into the freezer. Once they are completely frozen, then you can remove and stack in the freezer. Freezing them lying down reduces and extra air getting into the bag and makes them easier to store. They will keep in the freezer for ~3 months.
NOW you are ready to cook the jackfruit! I know it seems like a lot of effort; but it’s mostly hands-off time. Once you get the hang of this, it becomes really easy to do. Plus, I highly, highly recommend making several cans at once so you only have to do this once every few months.
Remove the jackfruit from the freezer and thaw overnight in the fridge, or grab what you’ve just prepped.
Sauté an onion in a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until the onion is fairly soft and translucent. Add in the jackfruit and cook another minute or two; if you want to add in seasonings, this is a great time to do so. If I’m making a BBQ version then I’ll usually add in a pinch of smoked paprika, chili powder, garlic powder and cumin.
Add in BBQ sauce of choice and cook until the mixture is very well-coated and thickened, about 10 minutes, stirring often. You’ll likely need more sauce than you think, I typically use 3/4 of a regular jar — but I also like things pretty saucy! As the jackfruit is pretty flavorless, your sauce is providing most of the flavor so make sure to choose a sauce you like!
If you are making tacos or other recipes — simply replace the BBQ sauce with another sauce of choice or a marinade.
For the sandwich shown here, I prepared the jackfruit as described above then loaded it onto a bun with grilled pineapple and more BBQ sauce! This recipe is also delicious when loaded onto a bun and topped with a creamy slaw.
That’s typically how we eat it in my house. If BL got his way, he’d have this sandwich once a week!
How to Cook Jackfruit! A step-by-step guide on how to make jackfruit and how to freeze it for easy weeknight meals.
Follow the directions in the post for more details on each step, including how to freeze for easy meal-prep.