B is for Breadfruit


I’ve always associated this strange knobbly fruit with Captain Bly and the Bounty but I had never actually handled one, eaten it or seen one growing on a tree, but I knew it was popular here and I looked forward to trying it.
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In Jamaica they are probably second only to rice as the important carbohydrate content of a meal, although from a little reading I learnt that West African slaves in Jamaica didn’t take to them at first. But the trees grow well here, producing an abundant amount of fruit year round and they eventually became an important part of the local cuisine.

Breadfruit dishes can be roasted, mashed or fried,  but they all start out being cooked on a flame until they are blackened all over.  I really wondered what these guys were doing with their drum barbecues and piles of blackened footballs along the side of the road.

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Whatever were those blackened balls? Now I know…

I have to admit I was really disappointed the first time I tried roasted breadfruit. I didn’t think about “roasted” meaning anything other than crispy, and was disappointed to get a pallid slab of white vegetable that looked (and tasted) a lot like a sponge. I suppose a lot of carbohydrates eaten worldwide — rice, bread, tapicoa — are pretty bland. Its how we use them to eat other parts of our meal. Its how they sop up the gravy, how the remind us of a homemade dinner or give us that feeling of comfort food and a full belly that really make them a favourite. Of course, my experience lacked that connection. I didn’t eat more than a couple of bites.

I tried them again fried and like them much better. (I’m afraid that its true that most things taste better fried.) The same pre-roasted slices of breadfruit had been dropped into hot oil and browned, giving me something which was much more like the “roasted” I had expected the first time. An improvement, but not enough to make me seek it out on a menu again.

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Fried breadfruit…better than the roasted!

In modern kitchens like ours with no gas, the barbecue is the only way to cook them and the production involved means that I haven’t had the drive to experiment with the fruit. A little tour of the internet shows me other have been quite creative with breadfruit used in a wide variety of recipes other than just the ubiquitous, basic roasting and frying.

For me, however, all-in-all not a great new culinary experience, but I do enjoy seeing them around and they grow on some very pretty trees.

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11 thoughts on “B is for Breadfruit

  1. It is wonderful to see you back here writing about something, even if it’s a bland breadfruit! The fried ones do indeed look better; is there any kind of fun sauce people (could) dip those wedges into? Happy New Year to you!

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  2. You missed another way we Jamaicans eat breadfruit – boiled, like boiling green bananas. It’s often cooked in soup. I love it roasted and fried, but of course I’m Jamaican and was raised eating it. If you don’t care for it roasted or fried, there no way you would like it boiled. LOL!

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  3. Pingback: B is for Breadfruit | Unaccompanied Baggage

  4. I am sorry to say what you got ,was the tourist breadfruit.
    There are different varieties of breadfruit, we locals from rural Jamaica know the best variety.
    If you were given a slice of yellow heart breadfruit with a pat of butter or margarine , you would lick your finger.
    The roasted fruit is deep yellow moist and buttery and almost sweet when masticated, add ackee and codfish cooked in virgin coconut oil with the custard from the coconut and your in heaven.
    There is also another variety called the velvet heart breadfruit,superb!!
    Breadfruit can be roasted on gas stoves or baked in your oven.
    Bread fruit can also be steamed in seasoned coconut milk and eaten with a meat dish of choice …pork goes well with this dish.
    It can also be cooked in red bean soup. and beef soup…
    I am sorry to say the white heart variety which you no doubt have sampled is what we in rural Jamaica usually boiled in salt pickle, and feed to pigs and free range chickens.
    I am very sorry about your bad bread fruit experience.

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    • Hi Vonnie. You made me laugh that I’ve been eating breadfruit for pigs! You certainly know your breadfruit. I invite you to write a guest post on my blog on that subject if you wish….it would be fun!

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