Six things about breadfruit


Family tree
Breadfruit is a member of the mulberry family which grows on trees standing up to 85 feet tall. The fruit was discovered in northwest New Guinea approximately 3500 years ago and it was eventually spread north and west through insular and coastal Southeast Asia.

Fruit that tastes like a vegetable
Breadfruit is named for the taste the fruit possesses when cooked, which resembles the potato-like flavour of fresh bread.

Starchy staple
Due to breadfruit being a rich source of starch, it is a staple food amongst tropical regions. It is often roasted, baked, fried or boiled and while its flavour is similar to potato when cooked, breadfruit that is very ripe becomes sweet, since its starch has been converted to sugar. Its mild flavour when cooked makes breadfruit suitable for filling with other foods such as coconut milk, sugar and butter, meat or other varieties of fruit.

Waste not
The wood from a breadfruit tree is used widely among Pacific Islanders. It is resistant to termites and shipworms, making it useful for outrigger canoes. The wood pulp from the tree is used to make paper, or breadfruit tapa and a milky substance produced by the tree known as latex is used for boat caulking.

She’s a fan
Botanist Diane Ragone is credited for owning the world’s largest collection of breadfruit varieties, which she has amassed from more than 20 years travelling around 50 Pacific Islands. The collection resides on a 10-acre plot outside Hana, Hawaii.

Mythical origins
According to Hawaiian myth, breadfruit is the product of a sacrifice made by the war god Kū, who lived secretly among mortals. After marrying and having children, he promised his wife he would be able to free them from hunger, but to do so he had to leave his family. He descended into the ground and after the ground was watered by the tears of his family, a small green shoot began to grow where he had stood. The shoot eventually grew into a tree of breadfruit that saved his family from starvation. V


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