Caribbean Market: Breadfruit
By Amber Charles, MSPH, RDN
November 12, 2020
Breadfruit is a versatile starchy fruit with a nutritional profile that can benefit anyone with a diverse palate.
Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) is a starchy fruit native to a vast area extending from New Guinea through the Indo-Malayan Archipelago to Western Micronesia (1).
It is fast-growing and harvested in tropical regions. Although fruit in varying stages of development can be found on the tree all year-round, there are three main fruiting periods, based on the region of growth (1).
For instance, in the Bahamas, breadfruit is available mainly from June to November, but some fruits may mature at other times during the year (1).
When breadfruit is in season, an all-time favorite dish of mine is oildown, a one-pot delicacy! Check out this recipe from Simply Trini Cooking.
Like the banana and plantain, the breadfruit may be eaten ripe as a fruit or under-ripe as a vegetable.
The mature fruit has a great flavor profile and a potato-like texture and can be used in similar dishes. Roast the fruit and eat plain, or curry, steam, stew, fry, bake or make a breadfruit salad.
The ripe fruit is ideal for desserts, such as cakes, pies, cookies and even energy bars.
Learn to make breadfruit flour here (and try breadfruit pancakes when you do!)
Avoid the sap and sticky situation by cutting off the stem immediately after picking and let the fruit sit stem-end down to drain most of the sap (2). Alternatively, soak the whole fruit in cold, clean water for 1-2 minutes to remove sap and debris on the skin.
An excellent source of fiber and complex carbohydrates, the breadfruit is low in fat and cholesterol, with an added bonus of being gluten-free (3).
It is a good source of protein, B-vitamins, vitamin C and the minerals, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus (1, 3).
It also provides some β-carotene and lutein (carotenoids) and is a great nutritional replacement for white bread, white potato and white rice (1, 3).
The high fiber content can aid in regular bowel movements and reduce the occurrence of constipation
The combination of complex carbohydrates and high fiber are a plus for blood sugar control
Potassium is heart friendly as it helps to reduce high blood pressure
Vitamin C boosts immunity and is important for wound healing
Ensure that the surroundings are clean, well-lit, and well-ventilated
The breadfruit should be clean, firm, dry and free of excess dirt
Breadfruit can be stored in the refrigerator - the skin may brown but the flesh remains firm (2)
It can also be stored in a cool water for a few days. Place a heavy object on the breadfruit to keep it fully submerged (1, 2)
Fully ripe fruits can be wrapped in polyethylene and stored for 10 days in the refrigerator. Half-ripe fruits can last up to 15 days once wrapped (1)
(1) Morton, J. 1987. Breadfruit. p. 50–58. In: Fruits of warm climates. Julia F. Morton, Miami, FL. via Purdue University https://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/breadfruit.html
(2) The Breadfruit Institute (Hawaii), Brief Breadfruit Basics https://ntbg.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Breadfruit_Basics.pdf
(3) The Breadfruit Institute (Hawaii), Breadfruit Nutritional Value and Versatility https://ntbg.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Breadfruit_NUTRITION.pdf
The Caribbean Market highlights the nutritional facts and health benefits of fruits and vegetables found in the Caribbean, with the goals of instilling pride and ownership in the diaspora and promoting local eating.