The Upton's company is based out of Chicago, IL (U.S.A) and was started back in 2005. Their first product line released in 2006 focused on flavored Seitan and later they created the jackfruit products. The company prides themselves as a producer with "vegan values" and they manufacture products which are low calorie, low in fat, cholesterol free, non GMO, and dairy free.
I'm a card-carrying carnivore but that said I have been trying to reduce my meat consumption for moral and health reasons. I don't know if I'll ever stop eating all meat and fish but I'd like to strive towards a goal where I eat far less than I do now. With that in mind I try to watch for products that help obtain that goal.
One of my beefs (pun intended) with the alternative meat products is that sometimes they are highly processed with numerous ingredients I can't spell or pronounce. One of the things that makes the Upton jackfruit products more interesting is the fact they use all common natural ingredients.
We will be adding to this article as we taste more of their products.
I first saw this huge fruit when I was in Hawaii years ago. Later I started seeing it in our local Asian grocery stores. The average fruit is 1-2 feet long with green and brownish exterior. The fruit originated in India and Malaysia but is grown throughout Asia and even in Florida, here in the U.S. The image below is from Floridagardener.com. You can read more about the fruit on that website.
The fruit is sometimes eaten as a fruit or made into a dessert when ripe but the unripe flesh is starchy and fibrous and can be flavored in curries and other dishes. The Upton's products capitalize on the fruit's natural meat-like texture and ability to absorb flavors like chiles and soy.
The first product we decided to sample is the Chili Lime Carnitas. I'm always interested in something I can use to make an impromptu taco with minimal ingredients and effort. As you can see below the packaging is very simple and attractive.
The ingredients are very simple: Jackfruit, onion, chili, vinegar, lime, evaporated cane juice, sea salt, black pepper, cumin.
One quarter of the package, a little less than 3 ounces is only 35 calories. I used far less than that in my little taco. Check out the carbs too only 7g but 4 grams of fiber and zero fat.
This is how the product looks as it is presented in a sealed pouch. By the way it is shelf stable when unopened but should be refrigerated once opened.
The instructions say to heat the contents in a skillet with a little oil. The pieces are about 3" x 1/2" and look and taste best when broken up with a fork or the back of a spoon. You get more of a "shredded meat" look once the product is broken up.
I just piled mine on top of a warmed tortilla. Clearly I did not knock myself out. I think it would be better if you mixed it with other ingredients like some sauteed onion and even some red or orange bell peppers (like fajitas).
As you can see it does have a nice shredded-meat appearance.
If I had some salsa I'd have added that on top. As I said, I really tried this pretty hastily. After a few bites I did add some Chipotle Hot Sauce.
The flavor was a little acidic for me. I think the most challenging thing is the texture. The texture and even the flavor reminded me of a marinated artichoke heart. Artichokes too have that fibrous texture although it is not "stringy". If you used this product as a base and added to it rather than just right out of the pouch I think the results would be a lot better. I do look forward to trying the other flavors which I think the BBQ will be next. If you are a vegetarian or vegan I think you may definitely want to give this product a try.