Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) is native to New Guinea and the Indo-Malay region, where these massive, nutritious fruits grow abundantly on lofty trees. One of the most productive crops on Earth, it fruits up to three times a year, making it an important tool in the fight against food insecurity—past and present. According to Hawaiian oral history, the god of war Kū turned himself into the first breadfruit tree in order to feed his family when a severe famine struck the Big Island.
Easy to Grow & Eco-Friendly
Breadfruit trees are an incredibly sustainable crop; they require little water, no fertilizer, and little routine maintenance over their 50+ year life span. Like most trees, breadfruit provides important benefits to the environment. Its roots prevent erosion from the intense storms becoming more common in the tropics, while also sequestering carbon in its tissues above and below ground.
Aside from being a sustainable crop, the lightly sweet breadfruit also delivers a complete protein, containing all of the essential amino acids for human life. It is also rich in fiber; vitamins A, B, and C; as well as phosphorous and iron. It is a staple food across Southeast Asia, the Pacific, and the Caribbean, with countless culinary uses.
Breadfruit can be used for extremely diverse culinary purposes. When ripe, the interior of breadfruit is soft and creamy, with a lightly sweet flavor. The fruit can also be eaten just before ripeness, when the starchy interior resembles the spongy texture of soft bread. Its myriad uses include everything from ice cream flavoring to salty fried snacks.
Check out some fun facts about breadfruit!
- One breadfruit tree can produce 450 pounds of fruit each growing season.
- The milky sap from breadfruit trees can be used as a glue.