Last week we had out of town guests, and one of them was my friend Eric. He and his wife are vegan and I remember one year he went on a trip with some old friends and he said he needed vegan jerky. Because he and his friends would always get big bags of jerky for their trips, he wanted a vegan version to bring. He ended up making his own out of tofu, which works really well and has the same protein satisfaction of the non-vegan versions.
Tofu jerky is easy as, or easier, than the meat versions. You slice the tofu into strips and marinate it in a similar marinade and then dehydrate until chewy and dry. There are tons of recipes to use for your marinade, or use your favorite marinade that you have used with meat in the past if you have one.
I had that on my mind for a Throwback Thursday post when I went for a walk with my dogs yesterday and the neighbor girl joined us along with a handful of Slim Jims. I knew it was a sign and came right home to whip up a new creation: Jackfruit Jerky.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Slice the jackfruit and then combine all other ingredients well in a bowl. Toss everything gently together, being careful not the break up the jackfruit in the process.
Cover a baking sheet in parchment paper and spread out your jackfruit and marinade on it so everything has space to cook.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, letting it get browned and a bit crispy/chewy. Once it cools it will harden more because of the sugar in the maple syrup, so it will mostly be chewy when it's still hot. If you can wait a few minutes, you'll get the firmer texture.
Once it's cool enough to eat, all I can say is good luck having enough to store in an airtight container. The neighbor girl who had just eaten several Slim Jims wanted all of it! The kids and husband and I were all snacking away and it was gone in less than an hour (I had to hide it while it cooled just to take pictures).
You could use this same method and make a teriyaki jerky or something with Sriracha or whatever flavors you like your jerky to be. As always, be creative and have fun with it! None of my recipes are written in stone!
Some other Vegan Jerky Recipes
A super simple Tofu Jerky recipe from Connoisseurus Veg
From my first vegan blog, Meat Free Mom, a mushroom jerky that was a huge crowd pleaser.
There are some great soy curl-based vegan jerkies on the market, so I bet it would be fun to experiment with using soy curls in a similar method to make a soy curl jerky. Experiment and enjoy!
With a food dehydrator, you can try marinating and dehydrating all kinds of veggies for a jerky-like snack that keeps in an airtight container. The trick to keep it chewy is to include some oil and some sweetener (doesn't need to be a lot). You can use strips of carrots, beets, and probably lots of other things! I've even dehydrated broccoli for a fun snack!
Buy Vegan Jerky
Thursdays are throwback day, when I take a classic dish that is generally made with animal ingredients and reimagine it vegan. I tried to stick to the classic dish, here, but feel free to have fun with this. Use more or different veggies, mix in some vegan cheese, leave out the jackfruit and just use the veggies- whatever you like. I want you to have fun in the kitchen, and following rules/recipes is only so fun on it's own.
I wish I could feed this to my great gran, but at least I'm serving it in her old Corningware dish, so that's got to count for something. Food is one way we keep the memories of our lost loved ones alive, and as I share this meal with my family, I'm reminded of the times my gran made this for me.
1 can green jackfruit in brine, marinated overnight*
2 sheets sushi nori for marinating jackfruit*
3 cups dry Rotini, cooked according to package, but a little firm
2 ribs celery, chopped finely
6 crimini (or button) mushrooms chopped finely
1/2 yellow onion, chopped finely
2 cups frozen peas
veg. oil of choice
1 cup cashews**
2.5 cups water**
salt and pepper to taste
1/2- 1 cup crushed chips
Preheat oven to 375 F
Sauté the celery, onion, and mushrooms until they start to just get a bit browned on the edges on medium high heat, and then add jackfruit. Toss jackfruit in and stir until the flavors are all integrated. Add salt and pepper and let jackfruit get warm and coated without browning, then add peas to pan.
While peas are defrosting, blend cashews and water in high speed blender until completely liquified. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Pour the cashew and water mixture into pan and combine everything and combine well as cashew cream and veggie mixture heats up and cashew cream will begin to thicken. You don't need to fully thicken it in the pan, because it will finish in the oven.
Top the casserole with crushed chips of your choosing or vegan cheese of your choice, or corn flakes smashed up, or nutritional yeast. Go crazy. Do your thing.
Bake at 375 F for 20 minutes and then let cool before serving (because it's 375 degrees, you know...
*Jackfruit Tuna: drain a can of jackfruit and put in a gallon ziplock bag. Seal the bag and smash the jackfruit with your hand until it's a similar texture to canned tuna. Then open the seal and, with the bag lying flat, lift the top up away from the jackfruit and insert a sheet of nori. Flip the bag over and repeat on the other side, so the jackfruit is surrounded in a nori sandwich. Press down on both sides and then refrigerate overnight. When it's time to use, just pour out jackfruit and allow the nori sheets to stick to the sides of the bag, or include them in your meal for extra flavor. This would be fun for making "tuna" sandwiches or salads. I think it still leaves some fishy taste to be desired. Maybe some kelp powder or dulse flakes would help.
**Mine turned out a little dry, so next time I'd use 1.5 cups cashews and 3-3.5 cups water
Edited March 2017 to include Instant Pot option below.
When I was a kid, we were really poor, so corned beef and cabbage with potatoes and carrots was an affordable meal. Especially right after St. Patrick's Day, we could get it at super discount price and eat it for weeks. Now, I still like to just make cabbage, carrots, and potatoes for dinner year round, but when it's close to St. Patrick's Day, I crave that unique spice flavor of corned beef, so I decided to recreate it with pickling spices and jackfruit. This did not disappoint and I'm already looking forward to making it again!
2 cans green jackfruit, drained
1 cup water
1 tsp Better Than Bouillion
1 tsp smoked salt
Liquid from one can pickled beets
1 bottlePickling Spice in cheesecloth, tea bag, or similar (I used a nut milk bag)
Put on low in slow cooker for 3 hours. all together. Once it's all soft and and infused with flavor, use a potato masher to break up the big pieces of jackfruit and you have something that looks like the consistency of shredded meat. Use a slotted spoon get all the jackfruit out and spread out on a foil or parchment lined cookie sheet and toss with oil of your choice, or leave it oil free. Broil it for 10 minutes then stir and broil another 10 minutes, keeping an eye on it so it doesn't burn. Once it's browned, it's ready, so don't over burn it. Serve with boiled cabbage, potatoes, and carrots and yummy mustard.
I added more smoked salt for the broiling, but that made it super salty- which I like but you might not.
Even though I just ate a plate of this, I'm already dreaming of a sandwich made with leftovers. I wish I had some good pumpernickel bread, maybe I'll head out later.
If you want something in a big chunk form, I've made this seitan recipe before and it was a hit: Vegan Corned Beef Seitan
For another version of Corned Jackfruit, check out howFried Dandelions makes hers!
Instant Pot Method UPDATE:
I used the same recipe, although this time I used jarred pickled beets instead of canned (probably inconsequential).
In Instant Pot, combine ingredients and set for MANUAL 6 minutes. I did a quick release and it was ready to broil. Way faster, and the flavor was completely in the jackfruit!
I wrote a children's book, How Our Vegan Family Celebrates, to help vegans and vegan allies know how to include vegans in their celebrations and give affirmation to vegan kids who may feel alone. The book goes through holidays throughout the year and has a section at the back with parent tips!
Order your copy here today!
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