I’d rather jack – the meat substitute that’s actually a fruit

Pulled jackfruit sandwhich

Jackfruit has been heralded as the king of vegan meat substitutes for a while now.

But, more recently, I’ve noticed that the humble tin named “Jack” has gone mainstream. Yes, no longer is this delight solely found hiding in the corner of your local Asian food shop, but now it’s found its way on to the shelves of the supermarket giants too.

But what exactly is it?

Well, Jackfruit is a relative of the fig and it grows in the tropical bits of Southeast Asia, Brazil and Africa. It also holds the honour as the national fruit of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and the state fruit (whatever that means) of the Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

The flesh of the fruit is a starchy source of dietary fibre. Its pulp is composed of 74% water, 23% carbohydrates, 2% protein, and 1% fat. So now you know! According to Wiki (so it must be true), a 100-g portion of raw jackfruit gives you 400 kJ (95 kcal) and it’s a rich source of vitamin B6. It also contains moderate levels (10-19% DV) of vitamin C and potassium.

Unlike animal sources of protein, jackfruit contains no saturated fat or cholesterol, it’s light in sodium, and is also low in calories – so, in short, it’s better for you than meat!

Despite looking like a giant testicle and being a “fruit”, it is an amazing meat substitute – and a natural one at that, mainly because, while relatively tasteless, it is awesome at absorbing other flavours – so marinade and spice it up until your heart’s content.

Recently, our mate Jack the Fruit has become available at more and more takeaways and restaurants as the vegan option – and this is great news for those of us bored with veggie burgers and chips.

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You can even buy pre-prepared jackfruit as a processed vegan food at Sainsbury’s now if you prefer the lazy, over-packaged option. But, hey, I guess it’s offering up more options to the vegans out there who struggle with the recipe for beans on toast.

However, sweet and savoury don’t mix – ask those who hate pineapple on a pizza – so make sure you get the young green jackfruit in brine, not the one in syrup – although, I’m told jackfruit does work well as a dessert – I guess most fruits do (except tomatoes – tomatoes and custard is just wrong). I shouldn’t be too harsh on supermarkets though, jackfruit, to me, deserves its tasty reputation, whereas that other vegan darling – the avocado is a tad overrated (the thing is 40% skin and 30% stone for crying out loud).

Gareth, from Peterborough-based Resist! Vegan Kitchen told me: “We use Jackfruit in our menu as most of our alternatives and items are gluten-based so this allows us a gluten-free option that does the job perfectly.”

This is a valid point in a world (including my world, it has to be said) that’s gone seitan crazy, the humble jackfruit flies to the rescue of the gluten intolerant.

So, what do you do with it?

Well, I drain it, wash it, boil it for 45 minutes, boil it again in fresh water for another 30 minutes and leave it to marinate in a mixture of spices and barbecue sauce and then fry it with onions and mushrooms in a little more barbecue sauce for a few minutes and then eat it in a roll.

However, there are a number of recipes out there, but I like Resist!’s BBQ Jackfruit, and now Gareth has exclusively revealed the secret to how to cook jackfruit to perfection to the readers of veganonadesertisland.

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Resist! Slow cooked BBQ Jackfruit

Ingredients

  • 2 cans of green or young Jackfruit (rinsed and roughly chopped)
  • 2 tsp olive oil (and extra for the frying)
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tbsp Brown sugar
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 3 garlic cloves (crushed and pulled apart only)
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock (gluten-free if required)
  • 1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 60ml apple cider vinegar
  • A couple drops of liquid smoke
  • 170ml of your choice beer/lager (gluten-free if required)
  • 240ml of your favourite bought BBQ sauce (we use homemade)

Method

Toss the Jackfruit, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, brown sugar and olive oil in a bowl and leave for 5 minutes.

Heat the extra oil in a large pan, wok or whatever large metal thing you want to cook in.

Add the Jackfruit mix, garlic and onion. Cook the jackfruit on one side for 5 minutes until it’s lightly brown and then repeat on the other side.

Pour in the liquids (Vegetable stock, Worcestershire sauce, cider vinegar, liquid smoke and beer).

Cover and simmer on a medium heat for 90 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed.

Using a fork or wooden spoon, break up the Jackfruit to appear ‘pulled’, or roughly mashed as we say in the ghetto.

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees.

Spread the jackfruit mixture across a lightly oiled (or non-stick) oven tray and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove and cover the jackfruit with half the BBQ sauce, mix in and spread out again and cook for a further 20mins until the edges start to become blackened.

Give it another mix and cook for a further 10 minutes.

While waiting, think to yourself how the letter ‘A’ doesn’t appear in any number until one hundred and one.

Remove from the oven (the jackfruit, not the letter “A”).

Pour the cooked jackfruit into a bowl and cover with the remaining BBQ sauce (add more if required).

Add slaw or whatever topping you require.

Now throw some of the cooked mix into a fresh sub or baguette and toss it into your gaping jaws!

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Resist! Vegan Kitchen at The Ostrich Pub, in Peterborough, UK. Photo by Gareth Ellison of Resist! Vegan Kitchen

No beetle juice, beetle juice, beetle juice

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The Sainsbury’s hummus horror

The news that Sainsbury’s hummus is longer vegan shook the world of social media – well vegan social media anyway. Then the news that is was – well most of it anyway, made everybody calm down – except those who still don’t know….

Sainsbury’s response on Facebook now suggests it actually vegan is – except for the Lemon and Corriander variety and the “vegan” stamp is being restored.

Apparently, the hummus only contains lemon JUICE – not bits – the response doesn’t say whether waxed lemons are used for the juice – I’m guessing, and hoping, not.

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The rest of the world asked “how can hummus not be vegan?” And what caused the anger in the first place? Well the world of shellac is still worth exploring…

Anything is possibly in these days of perfect fruit…

So what is shellac? And What’s it got to do with lemons?

One word – bug juice.

Shellac is secreted by lac bugs on trees in India and Thailand. People scrape it off trees and use it to polish wood – or citrus fruit– I kid you not.

It is used on fruits to prolong its shelf life and has also been used to coat sweets and pills. It has an additive number of E904.

And Sainsbury’s were said to have removed the vegan stamp from their hummus because the lemon juice it contains itself contained shellac.

So, how come shellac isn’t vegan?

Many will argue that any product taken from living beings of other species is not ours, and therefore, it shouldn’t be used by vegans.

Thought Co’s website ( https://www.thoughtco.com/how-is-shellac-not-vegan-127609 ) expands on this: “The beetles secrete the resin on tree branches in Southeast Asia as a protective shell for their larvae. The males fly away, but the females stay behind. When the flakes of resin are scraped off the branches, many of the females who remain are killed or injured. Some branches are kept intact so that enough females will live to reproduce.”

According to an article by Ramesh Singh, Department of Zoology at Udai Pratap Autonomous College in India ( http://www.vrg.org/blog/2010/11/30/q-a-on-shellac/ ), 300,000 lac insects are killed for every kilogram (2.2 lbs.) of lac resin produced.

In other words, it not only puts the bugs’ larvae at risk, it also kills many of the bugs – so, definitely not vegan then.

But what has this got to do with supermarket hummus? Basically, they’re using lemons coated with shellac to provide the lemon juice for the hummus, as the lemons now contain an animal product, this means the hummus is no longer vegan. In fact, some may argue, it is not even vegetarian.

The mainfact to consider is that most citrus fruit sold in UK supermarkets is coated with shellac – it’s used in nail polishes too, incidentally.

In other words, it’s a hidden ingredient that is found in the most unlikely of places – even in hummus – sometimes. It does bring into question the morals of supermarkets – the number of vegans is growing, and so are the number of vegan products available – so does it really pay them to “unveganise” some of their products? Why coat apples and lemons in bug juice? Is a few days of extra shelf life or a glowing Cox really worth it?

But, those who use nail varnish seem to be most at risk of having shellac in their cabinet at home.

Of course, there are other places to find hummus, soit gives meand excuse to tell you how you can make your own. Here’s the recipe I’ve used:

For the recipe I use, you need:

200gm cooked chickpeas (about one drained can)

2 Tablespoons of light tahini

2 Tablespoons of lemon juice

1 Table spoon of olive oil

2 Tablespoon of water

Some garlic (powder or a clove or 2 crushed – depending on taste)

Black pepper.

Paprika

If you’re using a blender, simply blend the lot together (excluding the paprika) – adding more oil of water if you want it thinner or creamier. If you don’t have a blender, mash the chickpeas until they are completely creamed and mix in the other ingredients (again, excluding the paprika). You can then sprinkle the paprika on top to make it look even more appetising – maybe mix it with a little olive oil first to give it an extra twist. You can even put aside a couple of whole chickpeas to use as decoration if you’re serving it to others.

As I mentioned above, you can experiment by using different oils and flavour combinations – why not caramelize some onions and mix that in? To do this, simple slow cook the onions in a little olive oil. It adds a great flavour to your hummus, I promise.

Alternatively, you could try mashing up some broad beans or peas to add some greenery. For some of these combinations you may need to add a little more water or oil to prevent the hummus from becoming too thick – but some people like it thick, it must be said. The recipe is just a rough guideline, experiments with quantities so you get the right taste and consistency for you. And, of course, why you dip in it is down to you – celery, carrot, crisps… I also use it instead of marg in sandwiches sometimes.

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Egg-citing times for vegans

The One problem I have with modern Easter Eggs  – vegan or not – is probably age-related, but when I was a kid, the sweets or chocolates that came with the egg were actually inside it – not in a little bag at the bottom of the package.

I feel this new modern way of selling Easter Eggs steals the magic from the Easter Bunny’s basket – for me anyway.

However, one thing that has changed for the better is the number of vegan-friendly Easter Eggs crammed on to shelves up and down the land.

I have decided I should review some, and I’m going to start with a Sainsbury’s one today (http://www.mysupermarket.co.uk/sainsburys-price-comparison/Boxed_Chocolates/Sainsburys_freefrom_White_Chocolate_Egg_65g.html).

The Free From White Choc Egg and Buttons instantaneously made me regress to my childhood and dance with unicorns in my head. The 65g one is quite small, but only costs £2.50.

It contains Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Inulin, Maltodextrin, Maize Flour, Coconut Oil, Emulsifier (Soya Lecithins) and Flavourings and has 12 or so buttons – so a pretty good buy really.

It smells nice too – but I love the smell of vegan white chocolate in the morning anyway.

I also love the taste. It delivers a powerful sugar-kick which dances nicely with the inviting sweet smell that lures unsuspecting non-vegans in for the ride.

The delightful buttons are more of the same really – neither the egg nor buttons lasted very long with me – always a good sign.

I am, naturally, a big fan of the creamy white chocolate from Tesco, so this egg seems a natural place for me to start my Vegan Easter Egg review journey.

I have asked people in vegan groups on Facebook to offer up their own views on various eggs – I suggest you do the same, and I’ll use them in forthcoming blogs.

But, for a start, on Facebook, Leanne Bisson stated: “I’ve had the Tesco finest caramel one and the uh can’t remember plain one from Holland and Barrett so far.. Tesco wins for taste.”

Aldi bunny

While Sam Robinson commented: “I had a chocolate bunny from Aldi it was soo good didn’t even taste like dark choc.”

Eleanore Duggan, said she makes her own and shared her recipe with me….

  • 50g cocoa/cacao butter
  • 3tbsp Cocoa/cacao powder (the taste will vary slightly depending on if you use cacao or cocoa)
  • 1 and a half tbsp liquid sweetener e.g agave, maple etc.

Melt the butter, add the other two ingredients, pour into mould (silicone ones are easiest to use) and chill in freezer or fridge straight away. I’ve never tempered my chocolate during making as chocolatiers do and the texture is still fab. Double or triple up the amounts as necessary and add essences like hazelnut, mint, orange or vanilla or nuts, dried fruit etc for variations.

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