I’ve been eating breadfruit

Breadfruit, Artocarpus altilis, is a starchy fruit that is best eaten cooked, which brings out its wonderful flavor.

Breadfruit is an outstandingly productive staple crop that is roughly the equivalent of a potato that grows on a tree. These starchy fruits are not very good to eat raw, but once cooked they are wonderfully flavorful.

Breadfruit is Artocarpus altilis, so it’s a close relative of delicious tropical fruits like jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) and marang/tarap (Artocarpus odoratissumus).

This fruit tree is exceedingly well adapted to the rainy, humid tropical areas around the equator, where it should be grown and appreciated much more widely than it is. Unfortunately for those of us in Florida, most of our state gets too cold for this tropical fruit tree to survive – while its cousin jackfruit can handle temperatures right down to and even slightly below the freezing point, breadfruit trees suffer die-back at a temperature of 40F (4.5C).   The Florida Keys are the only part of the state which stay reliably warm enough for breadfruit to thrive and fruit.  In the extreme southeastern part of the Florida peninsula, a run of several mild winters in a row led to breadfruit trees fruiting around 2015- 2017, but the cold spells of last winter caused heavy damage to these trees, and it will take a mild winter or two for them to start bearing again.

My favorite way (so far) to cook breadfruit is to pan-fry it with sliced onion in a bit of coconut oil. So delicious!

Where I live in North Florida, breadfruit doesn’t have a prayer of surviving our frosty winters without a well-insulated, heated greenhouse, so I don’t bother trying to grow this tree crop. Instead, I buy the fruits at the market whenever they show up, and they’ve been making regular appearances in my local grocery lately.

There are innumerable ways to cook this fruit. I’ve only explored a little bit in this area, but so far my favorite method is to cut the fruit in half, peel off the skin with a vegetable peeler, cut out the inedible central core, and cut up the surrounding starchy flesh into chunks. Then I pan-fry those chunks with sliced onion in a bit of coconut oil. It’s really, really good – a little bit like eating a potato, but with distinctive hearty texture and delicious  flavor unlike any potato I’ve ever eaten.

I’ve heard that another excellent way to cook this fruit is to roast it in a fire – I want to try that. Do you have any ways you particularly like to  cook breadfruit?

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