Botanical Name: Artocarpus altilis
Species: A. altilis
*Artocarpus altilis var. non-seminiferus (Duss) Fournet)
*Artocarpus altilis var. seminiferus (Duss) Fournet
*Artocarpus communis J.R.Forst. & G.Forst.
Common Names: Breadfruit
Breadfruit has hundreds of varieties and thousands of common names varying according to its geographic distribution, and is cultivated in some 90 countries.
Breadfruit is an equatorial lowland species. It grows best below elevations of 650 metres (2,130 ft), but is found at elevations of 1,550 metres (5,090 ft). Preferred soils are neutral to alkaline (pH of 6.1–7.4) and either sand, sandy loam, loam or sandy clay loam. Breadfruit is able to grow in coral sands and saline soils. The breadfruit is ultra-tropical, requiring a temperature range of 16–38 °C (61–100 °F) and an annual rainfall of 200–250 cm (80–100 in)
Breadfruit originating in New Guinea, the Maluku Islands, and the Philippines. It was initially spread to Oceania via the Austronesian expansion. It was further spread to other tropical regions of the world during the Colonial Era. British and French navigators introduced a few Polynesian seedless varieties to Caribbean islands during the late 18th century. Today it is grown in some 90 countries throughout South and Southeast Asia, the Pacific Ocean, the Caribbean, Central America and Africa.
Breadfruit trees grow to a height of 26 m (85 ft). The large and thick leaves are deeply cut into pinnate lobes. All parts of the tree yield latex, which is useful for boat caulking.
The trees are monoecious, with male and female flowers growing on the same tree. The male flowers emerge first, followed shortly afterward by the female flowers. The latter grow into capitula, which are capable of pollination just three days later. Pollination occurs mainly by fruit bats, but cultivated varieties produce fruit without pollination. The compound, false fruit develops from the swollen perianth, and originates from 1,500-2,000 flowers visible on the skin of the fruit as hexagon-like disks.
Breadfruit is one of the highest-yielding food plants, with a single tree producing up to 200 or more grapefruit-sized fruits per season, requiring limited care. In the South Pacific, the trees yield 50 to 150 fruits per year, usually round, oval or oblong weighing 0.25–6 kg. Productivity varies between wet and dry areas. Studies in Barbados indicate a reasonable potential of 16–32 short tons per hectare (6.5–12.9 short ton/acre). The ovoid fruit has a rough surface, and each fruit is divided into many achenes, each achene surrounded by a fleshy perianth and growing on a fleshy receptacle. Most selectively bred cultivars have seedless fruit, whereas seeded varieties are grown mainly for their edible seeds. Breadfruit is usually propagated using root cuttings.
Breadfruit is closely related to the breadnut, from which it might have been naturally selected. It is noticeably similar in appearance to its relative of the same genus, the jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus).
The closely related Artocarpus camansi can be distinguished from A. altilis by having spinier fruits with numerous seeds. Artocarpus mariannensis can be distinguished by having dark green elongated fruits with darker yellow flesh, as well as entire or shallowly lobed leaves.
Breadfruit is 71% water, 27% carbohydrates, 1% protein and negligible in fat (see table). In a 100 gram amount, raw breadfruit is a rich source (35% of the Daily Value, DV) of vitamin C, and a moderate source (10% DV each) of thiamin and potassium, with no other nutrients in significant content.
Breadfruit is a staple food in many tropical regions. Most breadfruit varieties produce fruit throughout the year. Both ripe and unripe fruit have culinary uses; unripe breadfruit is cooked before consumption. Before being eaten, the fruit are roasted, baked, fried or boiled. When cooked, the taste of moderately ripe breadfruit is described as potato-like, or similar to freshly baked bread.
One breadfruit tree can produce 450 pounds (200 kg) each season. Because breadfruit trees usually produce large crops at certain times of the year, preservation of harvested fruit is an issue. One traditional preservation technique is to bury peeled and washed fruits in a leaf-lined pit where they ferment over several weeks and produce a sour, sticky paste. So stored, the product may endure a year or more, and some pits are reported to have produced edible contents more than 20 years later. Fermented breadfruit mash goes by many names such as mahr, ma, masi, furo, and bwiru, among others.
Breadfruit can be eaten once cooked, or can be further processed into a variety of other foods. A common product is a mixture of cooked or fermented breadfruit mash mixed with coconut milk baked in banana leaves. Whole fruits can be cooked in an open fire, then cored and filled with other foods, such as coconut milk, sugar and butter, cooked meats, or other fruits. The filled fruit can be cooked further so the flavor of the filling permeates the flesh of the breadfruit.
Breadfruit is found in Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia, where it is called sukun. It is commonly made into fritters and eaten as snacks. Breadfruit fritters are sold as local street food.
In Sri Lanka, it is cooked as a curry using coconut milk and spices (which becomes a side dish) or boiled. Boiled breadfruit is a famous main meal. It is often consumed with scraped coconut or coconut sambol, made of scraped coconut, red chili powder and salt mixed with a dash of lime juice. A traditional sweet snack made of finely sliced, sun-dried breadfruit chips deep-fried in coconut oil and dipped in heated treacle or sugar syrup is known as rata del petti. In India, fritters of breadfruit, called jeev kadge phodi in Konkani or kadachakka varuthath in Malayalam are a local delicacy in coastal Karnataka and Kerala. In Seychelles, it was traditionally eaten as a substitute for rice, as an accompaniment to the mains. It would either be consumed boiled (friyapen bwi) or grilled (friyapen griye), where it would be put whole in the wood fire used for cooking the main meal and then taken out when ready. It is also eaten as a dessert, called ladob friyapen, where it is boiled in coconut milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. In the South Indian state of Kerala and coastal Karnataka, especially near Mangalore, where it is widely grown and cooked, it is known as kada chakka or “sheema chakka”
In Belize, the Mayan people call it masapan. In Puerto Rico, breadfruit is called panapen or pana, for short. In some inland regions it is also called mapén. Pana is often served boiled with a mixture of sauteed bacalao (salted cod fish), olive oil and onions. It is also served as tostones or mofongo. A popular dessert is also made with sweet ripe breadfruit: flan de pana (breadfruit custard). In the Dominican Republic, it is called buen pan or “good bread”. In Barbados, breadfruit is boiled with salted meat and mashed with butter to make breadfruit coucou. It is usually eaten with saucy meat dishes. In Jamaica, breadfruit is boiled in soups or roasted on stove top, in the oven or on wood coal. It is usually eaten with the national dish ackee and salt fish. The ripe fruit is used in salads or fried as a side dish.
The medicinal use of breadfruit is abundant and unlimited. In Taiwan, it is believed that breadfruit leaves are very effective in lowering high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, liver diseases and fever. Crushed breadfruit leaves are used to treat oral and ear infections whereas, breadfruit’s bark is used to treat headaches. Breadfruit leaf extracts also contains organic acids that possess relaxing, anti-convulsive and anti-anxiety properties. Roasted and powdered breadfruit leaves are used for the treatment of enlarged spleen.
Breadfruit was widely used in a variety of ways among Pacific Islanders. Its lightweight wood (specific gravity of 0.27) is resistant to termites and shipworms, so it is used as timber for structures and outrigger canoes. Its wood pulp can also be used to make paper, called breadfruit tapa. Native Hawaiians used its sticky latex to trap birds, whose feathers were made into cloaks. The wood of the breadfruit tree was one of the most valuable timbers in the construction of traditional houses in Samoan architecture.
Breadfruit contains phytochemicals having potential as an insect repellent. The parts of the fruits that are discarded can be used to feed livestock. The leaves of breadfruit trees can also be browsed by cattle.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.