So what exactly is this mystery thing called The Breadfruit?
No. It’s not bread. Neither is it a fruit that matures into bread. As a matter of fact it really doesn’t have anything at all to do with regular bread.
So what is it then?
The answer…. It is a fruit. A very big one at that. No, wait. It’s a vegetable. A large vegetable.
Ahh…. Let’s just say it is food, it is very large and you prepare it by boiling… no make that roasting…. no, no. I mean frying. Actually, you use it to make punch………..
You know what? Let’s just pause and get to the root (no pun intended) of this food.
WHAT IS IT?
Let us first clarify if this is a fruit or a vegetable. Which is it?
The answer is both. You see, the breadfruit is eaten at various stages of its development. When the breadfruit is used when it is mature but not ripe, it is considered a vegetable. When it becomes ripe, it is considered a fruit.
Phew! That’s one mystery solved.
Well this is what it looks like. Its green in colour and when it becomes ripe then it takes on a greenish-yellow hue.
One breadfruit can weigh up to 10 pounds. I told you it was big. Some of them can grow to be almost as big as a volley ball.
It is a staple food that is rich in nutrients. It is thought that the baked breadfruit resembles the texture of bread, hence the name.
HOW DOES IT GROW
Most breadfruit plants are cultivated by shoots and not by seeds as most of the varieties are seedless. It is grown mainly in the tropical regions of the world as other parts of the world are too cold for the plant to flourish.
The tree can grow to as high as 85 feet (not the best choice for a houseplant at all) and takes 2 to 3 years to mature and produce fruit. However, when it starts producing, Wow! You will have food to feed your whole neighbourhood. And these trees last for years and years.
One tree can produce as much as 200 fruits per season and the seasons can be pretty long. Approximately 4 to 5 months. Some trees even have more than one harvesting seasons per year.
HISTORY OF THE BREADFRUIT
Breadfruit originated in the South Pacific and was introduced into the western world by an 18th century sea captain named William Bligh.
It is quite an interesting story of how the breadfruit finally made its way to the West.
In 1769 one Captain James Cook went to Tahiti and discovered the breadfruit. He informed the then King George III of his discovery and because it was cheap and a source of high energy they decided to introduce it to the Caribbean as food for the slaves.
Captain Bligh was commissioned with this mission and set off in 1787 with over 1000 breadfruit plants. However, there was mutiny aboard the ship and the captain was set adrift in a small boat with a few of his trusted crew members and all the plants thrown overboard.
Miraculously, he was able to navigate the boat over three thousand miles back to safety without charts or compass.
A few years later he was again commissioned to undertake the same voyage and successfully brought breadfruit to the Caribbean in 1793.
Interestingly, although it was brought as food to feed the slaves, the slaves did not take to this new food and most of them would not eat it.
Breadfruit is high in complex carbohydrates, low in fat, and cholesterol and gluten free.
You could call the breadfruit, nutrition in a large package. This large, inexpensive fruit is full of nutrients.
Just look at what is available in only one cup.
- 59.7 grams of carbohydrates – that’s 20% of recommended daily value
- 10.8 grams of Dietary fiber – 43% of recommended value
- 2.4 grams of protein – not a high source of protein. Only 5% Daily value
- 63.8 mg of Vitamin C – that’s a whopping 106% of the daily recommended allowance.
A good source of B vitamins as well.
- 0.2 mg of thiamine – 16% daily value
- 2.0 mg niacin – 10% daily value
- 0.2 mg B6 – 11% daily value
- 1.0 mg pantothenic acid – 10% daily value
- 1078 mg potassium – significant source providing 31% daily recommended value
- 55.0 mg magnesium – 14% recommended daily value.
That is just one cup of one fruit and look at all the nutrients available. And that is not all because other nutrients are provided but have not been listed.
With all the nutrients contained in this fruit, you might conclude that it also has many health benefits. Well you are right.
Here are some of them.
- Helps to control diabetes by stabilizing blood sugar – Due to its high fiber content, the sugar is absorbed more slowly into the blood stream thus preventing sugar spikes and crashes.
- Helps protect the body against heart disease and heart attacks – Fiber again plays a major role as it helps to decrease bad cholesterol and triglycerides.
- Supports the digestive system – The high fiber content aids in the proper movement of food through the body, prevents constipation and protects the body from other serious conditions such as colon cancer.
- Fights infections – Breadfruit contains high levels of Vitamin C which is a powerful, natural, water-soluble antioxidant that helps the body develop resistance to infectious agents and eliminates cancer-causing free radicals in the body.
- Improves heart health – the high potassium content helps to reduce the risk of death from ischemic heart disease.
- Helps maintain a healthy blood pressure – The high potassium content also helps to relax blood vessels and maintain healthy blood pressure.
- May help to give better sleep at nights – This is due to the breadfruit’s high content of the mineral magnesium, which is directly linked to improving the quality, duration, and tranquility of sleep.
HOW TO PREPARE BREADFRUIT
Breadfruit can be prepared and consumed in a number of ways.
The green breadfruit can be boiled, fried, baked or roasted on an open fire. Whatever method is utilized, the skin will have to be removed before eating.
It is normally sliced and eaten as a side to a protein dish but can also be used in a variety of other dishes such as salads, stews, creamed breadfruit etc.
This giant of a fruit/ vegetable is so versatile…….. It can also be dried and made into flour and used to make dumpling, pancake, fritters, porridge, muffins, pudding and bun.
The ripe fruit is normally used to make punch, breadfruit chips, desserts and other sweet treats. It can also be eaten raw.
THERE IS MORE
If that is all there was to the breadfruit it would be enough. But hold on. There is more.
You see those giant leaves on the tree? Well they are quite useful too.
Breadfruit Leaves also have great healing powers. It is used to make tea which has many benefits such as lowering blood pressure, reducing inflammation, helping to treat diabetes and much more.
The sap is also useful. Yes the sap or milk which runs from the bark of the tree is used to treat contagious ailments of the skin such as mouth sores. It prevents these ailments from spreading and also promote healing. Treatment is done by applying the milk directly to the ailments.
There you have it.
You have now been introduced to the breadfruit.
What do you think of this fantastic fruit…….vegetable……….plant……..food?
Tell us what you think in the comments section below