The Real Difference Between Banana Blossom And Jackfruit

If you're in any way interested in vegan or plant-based food, chances are you're well aware of jackfruit, the bumpy, smelly pods that grow across south and south-east Asia. If not, what you need to know is that this superfruit that has become a vegan meat-replacement staple, and has been heralded as a potential replacement for crops under threat from climate change (via The Guardian in 2014). It's been featured all over the internet as a compelling alternative to different meats, including pulled pork (via LifeHacker). However, now there's a new plant on the vegan "meat" scene: banana blossom!

Banana blossom, also called banana heart, thanks to its visual similarities to an artichoke, grows at the end of a bunch of bananas (via The Guardian). This means that, like jackfruit, it is grown across south and southeast Asia. While it's new to the United States, banana blossom has long been popular in the cuisines of that area, often eaten raw in salads (via Texas Monthly). The flavor is described as subtly fruity and nutty, while raw jackfruit is often described as tasting like bubblegum (via TasteCard). While both can be eaten raw or cooked, the flaky texture of the banana blossom makes it a perfect substitution for fish in a plant-based diet. Jackfruit, on the other hand, is more often used as a substitute for chicken or pork (via AP News).

Where to find banana blossom

For those dying to try this latest vegan fish alternative, the most accessible way to get your hands on some is to check out your local Whole Foods store for the brand Upton's Naturals. Their product is sourced from Sri Lanka, certified organic, and pre-cooked in a small amount of brine to prevent oxidation and make it shelf-stable (via Food Business News). Plus, if you're watching your waistline, you'll be pleased to know that a 100-gram serving contains 20 calories, 3 grams of fiber, and 2 grams of protein.

If you don't know how to incorporate banana blossom into your diet, the Upton's Naturals website recommends battering and frying it for a "fish and chips"-type meal, adding it to a stir fry, or cooking it as a fillet according to the instructions on the back of the package. Let's hope that this is just the beginning of this bright blossom's presence in the US.