Breadfruit was introduced to Jamaica by Captain Bligh and the HMS Providence in 1793 from the original seedings that his 6 month stop-over in Tahiti had produced. They were first planted in Jamaica’s Bath Botanical Gardens and then introduced slowly across the island when the taste for this unusual fruit changed from a despised ‘slave food’ to something today that is regarded as almost an exotic delicacy.
The parish of Portland in Jamaica is where the champion breadfruits of the island are heralded to grow and they produce their fruits between May & August. When ripe, depending on the variety, they can measure between 7-20 cm wide and weigh between 1-3 kilograms. Breadfruits are almost a complete meal in themselves so it’s little wonder they were so popular with Jamaica’s colonial masters in feeding an immigrant population: protein, carbohydrates and fibre with plenty of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.
In its fresh state, whether mature, fully ripe, the breadfruit can be used in many ways; boiled, baked, roasted, fried or pickled, when cooked it has the consistency of potato. Many people utilise it when ground as wheat-free flour, but it can be grated, sliced, dried and ground; hence in Jamaica it is used in dumplings, fritters, salads, porridge, muffins & puddings. In Jamaica the yellow heart (inner portion) is its most desired part and used for roasting and the ‘Dream’ (white heart) is used in soups.
Beyond visiting a Caribbean food store or market, processed breadfruit is now freely available in supermarkets internationally, where you can find it frozen, dehydrated, canned slices as well as flour, chips and candied male flowers.
Here’s two of our favourite Breadfruit recipes:
Stuffed Roasted Breadfruit
Take one medium breadfruit and score around the stem, pulling the stem out of the breadfruit.
Fill the cavity in the breadfruit with Ackee and Salt Fish, or spinach and feta, sundried tomatoes (diced) and feta cheese.
You then take the heart of the breadfruit that you have cut out with the stem and cut it leaving only enough to cover the top of the stuffed cavity. Brush the breadfruit with olive oil and bake in 350 degree pre-heated oven for 35 -45 minutes or until a skewer or knife inserted into the breadfruit comes out clean.
Peel the roasted breadfruit and then split it in half, using the halved breadfruit as bowls for the filling. Slice like potato wedges and serve with a mixed green salad.
Breadfruit FuFu (recipe)
(For anyone who likes Hawaiian Poi using Taro – this is very similar)
Using a coal stove or BBQ, roast the breadfruit at medium heat, until a skewer or knife inserted into the centre, comes out clean. The breadfruit must be turned often during roasting.
If using an oven, lightly brush the breadfruit with coconut oil and bake at 350 degrees for 35 -45 minutes, or until a knife or skewer inserted into the breadfruit comes out clean.
Peel the roasted breadfruit and remove its core. Cut in small cubes and place cubes in mortar. Pound with a pestle until it becomes like a soft dough (you can use an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook).
Break into small pieces and add to soup or stews.
Nb. After roasting and peeling the breadfruit it is ready to be used as an aside in sliced form. As the breadfruit cools, it becomes quite dense so, a good option at this point is to fry the slices and use as a side dish.