What is Breadfruit?
Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) is a traditional staple food crop of Pacific Islands and is currently grown in the same growing regions as coffee, bananas and chocolate. Different regions use many different names for breadfruit including “ulu”, “uru”, “lemai”, “mei” and “fruta de pan”.
Breadfruit is a tall tropical tree reaching over 30 m and living for more than 70 years. A single breadfruit tree can produce > 400 kg of fresh fruit that can be eaten boiled, baked, fried, fermented or dried and ground into flour. Breadfruit is highly nutritious. The protein is high quality and contains all of the essential amino acids required for human health. Some varieties of breadfruit are high in iron, vitamin C, provitamin A carotenoids, and other vitamins and nutrients. Breadfruit is a healthy alternative to rice, potatoes, wheat and corn.
Is Breadfruit a new crop?
No. Breadfruit has been a staple food for thousands of years in the Pacific islands. There are hundreds of different varieties of breadfruit from different islands and different communities.
What are the nutritional benefits of Breadfruit?
A standard serving of breadfruit is low in fat and sodium. It is a starchy food that is an excellent source of fiber and a good source of vitamin C, iron, and potassium. Breadfruit contains pro-vitamin A carotenoids, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and other vitamins. Breadfruit contains higher quality protein than other staple foods and provides all of the essential amino acids required for good health. Some varieties of breadfruit are higher in protein that other staple crops or grains.
What does it taste like?
The many different varieties of breadfruit each taste a little bit different but, in general, breadfruit tastes a lot like a potato. You can use it in dishes that you would normally make with potatoes and people might not know the difference. Like potatoes, breadfruit takes on the flavour of the way it is cooked.
Can I make bread with it?
The name “breadfruit” comes from a traditional way of preparing the fruit. On Pacific islands, breadfruit are picked, pealed, cored, sliced and buried in a pit lined with banana leaves. The breadfruit ferment for several months and the resulting mash can be baked formed into a ball and baked in a fire. The product is reminiscent of bread but does not taste exactly the same.
Several modern recipes have been developed that use breadfruit flour to make bread.
Where does Breadfruit come from?
Breadfruit has 2 seeded ancestor species, breadnut (Artocarpus camansi) and dugdug (Artocarpus marianensis) native to Papua New Guinea and the Marianas Islands respectively. It is possible that all of these species shared a common ancestor that may have originated in Borneo. Over the last 3,000 years or more, seedless breadfruit varieties were bred, selected and transported across the Pacific by the indigenous people as they migrated between islands.
Breadfruit was introduced to Europe by Sir Joseph Banks who first saw the trees while traveling with Captain James Cook to Tahiti in 1769.
Why haven’t I heard of Breadfruit before?
Breadfruit is a common crop in many parts of the world but it has been largely unknown in North American markets. Trees are difficult to propagate and difficult to transport. Fresh fruit has a short shelf life and fruit processing facilities did not exist until recently.
Breadfruit is now more widely available because of a method of propagating the traditional varieties that has made large plantations and sustainable agrofoodforests possible. Learn more about the initiative to distribute breadfruit trees as a solution for hunger in tropical regions, Global Breadfruit.
Is Breadfruit GMO?
No, breadfruit is not a genetically modified organism (GMO). The currently available varieties of breadfruit are traditional varieties selected by the indigenous peoples of the Pacific and have not been genetically modified.
For an up-to-date list of genetically modified crops, please see:
Is Breadfruit Gluten Free?
Yes, breadfruit is gluten free. The plant is in the botanical family Moraceae that does not produce gluten. Gluten is a set of proteins produced by cereal plants such as wheat, oats, barley but is not found in other types of plants.
Where can I get Breadfruit?
An increasing diversity of breadfruit products are being sold in grocery stores across Canada, USA and Europe. Ask your grocer!