Tasting and looking like pulled pork, jackfruit has been tipped as the next big thing in the world of meat substitutes for the last couple of years.
As vegan and vegetarian options surge in popularity, now a British entrepreneur duo is trying to bring the jackfruit to the mainstream.
Currently, twice the cost of actual pork, if customers aren’t put off by the price, however, it might take them a while to get used to the strange smell, described as “rotting onion.”
But the founders of Project Jackfruit, Jordan Grayson and Abi Robertson, said once people try it, they love it.
“Some people seem very nervous about it but once they’ve been tempted and tried it they can’t believe it,” Robertson told MailOnline.
Just 23 years old, the two quit their jobs in London just one year after graduating, and began tinkering with jackfruit recipes and were finally ready to start manufacturing in October 2017, in India.
According to MailOnline, they plan to start supplying UK-retailers soon.
“We couldn’t understand why jackfruit wasn’t readily available considering how much of it is wasted [75 percent in India—alone!] and how beneficial and just like meat it is,” they wrote on their website.
Wow. It's been beautiful to explore this wonderful country! 🇮🇳 We spent the first part of our week working on some recipes and initial concepts with our partner here which is proving to be very exciting. More on that later in weeks to come…! We wanted to update as we have literally disappeared from Instagram and Facebook, ha! We've taken some time out to explore south India as well as visit a variety of factories and meet lots of farmers and workers (as well as occasionally indulge in some of the lovely food here!) 😋Sadly jackfruit is out of season in December so there is not as much availability although there are some specific plantations 😎 (No worries – we have got some incredibly cheesy selfies with jackfruits which we will of course share 😂) We have been taking loads of photos and recording the whole journey. We've met some really inspiring and hardworking people who I've taken some snaps of to share! We have some from the factory but they aren't so flattering with us all in hairnets so we've opted for these instead! You'll have to miss our pretty faces for a little while longer 😂😂 One and three are tea pickers that cut from the plantations that are scattered all across the hilltop town, Munnar ☕️.The second is making sugar by grinding down the sugarcanes picked from local fields. When crushed it releases a liquid which is then heated in a large furnace. They also make a product called jaggery. It is amazing to see the process behind all of the products which we pick from the shelf and it was a very humbling experience to meet them. They work incredibly laborious jobs and tireless hours and really don't receive much for what they do but they were so friendly and jumped at the opp for a photo! 😄📸 We will do all that we can and hope this is something that we can help to change 🌱🍈
As a meat substitute, they said jackfruit is much better for the planet and a great substitute for vegetarians and vegans. Jackfruit is even considered a ‘miracle crop’ as it grows naturally in such a huge abundance, has high yield, and even survives in droughts.”
However, although jackfruit might resemble the texture of pulled pork, according to fans, it doesn’t replicate the nutrients of meat, being mostly fibrous and lower in protein.
Project Jackfruit is not the first to market in the world, following other companies set up over the last six or seven years. For example, the Jackfruit Company was set up in the United States in 2011. But it appears that jackfruit has been taken more seriously as a meat-substitute in the last two or three years.
The Western world isn’t the only place that needs convincing of the benefits of jackfruit. In India, where it is known as the “poor man’s fruit,” 75 percent of crops are left to rot.
Jackfruits are unwieldy and labor-intensive to prepare; one reason suppliers pitching it as a meat-substitute in the West often pre-prepare it.
In the case of Project Jackfruit, they offer pre-prepared pork burger substitutes and jerky.
According to National Geographic, a jackfruit can weigh on average about 35 pounds and can get as big as a hundred pounds.
Los Angeles-based chef Kajsa Alger, executive chef and co-owner of the mostly vegan and vegetarian restaurant Mud Hen Tavern, told National Geographic, “Breaking down a jackfruit can be more labor intensive than butchering a piece of meat.
“It’s messy too. The fruit oozes a sticky white substance, and cooking preparation is a time-consuming, multistep process.
“Basically, they’re big and uncooperative,” Alger said.