Breadfruit, sometimes called tree potato, is the fruit of the tropical tree Artocarpus altilis. It is native to East Indian and Pacific islands and has been widely planted in tropical regions everywhere. It was first collected and distributed by Lieutenant William Bligh as one of the botanical samples collected by HMS Bounty in the late 18th century.
The breadfruit tree is one of the highest-yielding food plants, with a single tree producing 800 or more fruits per season. The grapefruit-sized ovoid fruit have a rough surface, and each fruit is divided into many achenes, each achene surrounded by a fleshy perianth and growing on a fleshy receptacle. Much of the breadfruit grown by Pacific Islanders is a seedless variety that must be distributed by cuttings.
Breadfruit can be eaten at multiple stages of maturity. When underripe, the fruit is firm and greenish yellow, and its flesh is starchy. When ripe, it softens, sweetens, and turns brown-yellow.
Selection and storage edit
Underripe fruits should be firm to the touch with a yellow-green tinge. They should be stored in a cool place or in the fridge. When ripe, they should be soft with a brown-yellow color. Ripe fruits should be used immediately.
Breadfruits are a staple food in many tropical regions. The underripe fruits are very rich in starch and must be cooked, usually in savory preparations where they can be roasted, boiled, stewed, and more—the taste is described as potato-like. Underripe breadfruit can also be dried and reconstituted or ground into flour. The fully ripe fruits are sweet and can be eaten raw or used like other culinary fruits in pies, custards, etc. Breadfruit have historically been fermented, and they may now be canned.
Breadfruit should be soaked in cold water for a few minutes before cutting to remove any residual sap.