Jack’s Journey from the Jungle
Where does Jack's jackfruit come from?
We all know that jackfruit is a natural, plant-based alternative to meat. It’s hailed by many as the food crop of the future. But have you ever wondered where jackfruit comes from? Where does Jack get all his jackfruit, and how does it end up on your plate?
It is said jackfruit trees are originally from India, though they are now in other areas of South East Asia, the Philippines, Africa, and South America. Pretty much in any tropical area near the equator.
We met Jack three years ago and loved the jackfruit to such an extent that we looked for ways to import it into Europe. We scouted for jackfruit farms across Asia and chose to start our jackfruit adventure by setting up a supply chain from Thailand to The Netherlands.
Two years later, after seeing people’s positive reactions to Jack, we teamed with Valio Hamburg to consolidate our supply chain in Europe. We will soon be sourcing our jackfruit from Sri Lanka, and are exploring for partnerships in other countries such India and Brazil.
Young, unripe jackfruit is picked and cleaned
Jackfruit is a well-known ingredient in many parts of Asia. It’s one huge fruit that can weigh up to 25kg and is rich in fiber, magnesium, zinc, potassium, and it’s full of vitamins. You can eat it unripe or ripe, which influences the meatiness of the texture and the sweetness of the taste. At Meet Jack we buy the young, unripe jackfruit.
Why? Because unripe jackfruit is the meatiest and most neutral in taste, making it the ideal meat substitute in many dishes.
How does it work? Farmers in Thailand pick the unripe jackfruit from the trees and send it to a production facility where jackfruit is cut open to extract the fruit bulbs and the seeds. Then they take the bulbs and cut them into small chunks or stripes.
Jackfruit gets blast frozen
The jackfruit chunks and stripes are blanched and thrown into a blast freezer at -18°C the same day they’re cut. In this way, you preserve the freshness, minerals, and vitamins of the raw jackfruit. It’s a technology known as the individually quick-frozen (IQF) method.
IQF method is simply freezing a fresh product into a deep-frozen state in a matter of minutes.
The benefits of this method compared to alternatives, such as block freezing, are:
- Jackfruit retains its cellular integrity, avoiding the formation of crystals that lead to a loss of nutrients.
- Chunks and stripes keep their shape, color, neutral smell, and taste after defrost.
- Freezing small chunks and stripes individually allows consumers to defrost and use the exact amount they need for a recipe.
In plain words, the jackfruit is preserved in the same fresh state as when picked from the tree.
These fresh-frozen jackfruit chunks and stripes are then bagged and made ready for shipping.
Fresh-frozen jackfruit arrives at its destination
Jack is shipped by boat to Europe, where Meet Jack’s chefs welcome it with open arms. The chunks and stripes arrive fresh-frozen and ready to use with all the natural jackfruit benefits.
Half of the shipment is set aside to sell at supermarkets and wholesale stores.
It’s jackfruit at its simplest form. One which consumers and chefs can enjoy and use to make their own jackfruit masterpieces.
Vegan plant-based street food
The other half of the shipment is used by our Meet Jack chefs to recreate some of our all-time favorite meat dishes, but with a twist. All-time favorite meat dishes, meat-free.
The chefs welcome jackfruit’s meaty texture and its ability to combine with all types of spices as they experiment with a bunch of different products. It’s a process, but the results are well worth it: bitterballen, croquettes, gyros, burgers, and rendang, all made from jackfruit.
Guilt-free pleasure food, from the jungle to your plate!