The humble breadfruit tree has many uses
This Article deals exclusively with the food uses of the breadfruit then and now
Back in the early Polynesian times, when the breadfruit reached these islands they used just about everything needed to survive. The trunk was used to make surfboards, drums, canoe parts, wood for house and furniture construction. The inner bark lent itself as a second grade tapa cloth.
Leaf sheaths, like the finest of abrasives, polished utensils, bowls, or kukui nuts used for leis. The young buds were a medicine for mouth and throats. The white sticky sap became glue, caulking, chewing gum or medicine. And of course breadfruit filled the stomach of many Polynesians.
Using breadfruit means not having to use expensive imported foods. Like the banana and plantain, the breadfruit may be eaten ripe as a fruit or under ripe as a vegetable. For the latter purpose, it is pickled while still starchy and is boiled or, in the traditional Pacific Island fashion, roasted in an underground oven on pre-heated rocks. Sometimes it is cored and stuffed with coconut before roasting. Malayans peel firm-ripe fruits, slice the pulp and fry it in syrup or palm sugar until it is crisp and brown. Filipinos enjoy the cooked fruit with coconut and sugar.
Fully ripe fruits, being sweeter, are baked whole with a little water in the pan. Some cooks remove the stem and core before cooking and put butter and sugar in the cavity, and serve with more of the same. Ripe fruits may be halved or quartered and steamed for 1 or 2 hours and seasoned in the same manner as baked fruit.
The steamed fruit is sometimes sliced, rolled in flour and fried in deep fat. In Hawaii, under ripe fruits are diced, boiled, and served with butter and sugar, or salt and pepper, or diced and cooked with other vegetables, bacon and milk as a chowder. In the Bahamas, breadfruit soup is made by boiling under ripe chunks of breadfruit in water until the liquid begins to thicken, then adding cooked salt pork, chopped onion, white pepper and salt, stirring till thick, then adding milk and butter, straining, adding a bit of sherry and simmering until ready to serve.
The pulp scraped from soft, ripe breadfruit is combined with coconut milk, salt and sugar and baked to make a pudding.
A more elaborate dessert is concocted of mashed ripe breadfruit, with butter 2 beaten eggs, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and rosewater, a dash of sherry or brandy, blended and boiled.
In Polynesia and Micronesia, a large number of fruits are baked in a native oven and left there to ferment. Over a period of few weeks, batches are taken out as needed. In Samoa, seeded breadfruits are skinned, washed, quartered and left to ferment in a pit lined and covered with layers of banana and Heliconia leaves, and topped with earth and rocks. The fruit ferment for long periods, like years, and form a pasty mass called masi. The seeds are squeezed out, the paste is wrapped in Heliconia leaves smeared with coconut cream and baked for 2 hours.
The original method of poi making involved peeling, washing and halving the fruit, discarding the core, placing the fruit in stone pits lined with leaves of Cordylme terminalis Kunt, alternating the layers of fruit with old fermented pod covering the upper layer with leaves, topping the pit with soil and rocks and leaving the contents to ferment, which acidifies and preserves the breadfruit for several years.
Modern poi is made from firm-ripe fruits, boiled whole until tender, cored, sliced, ground, pounded to a paste kneaded with added water to thin it, strained through a cloth and eaten.
Freezing: Green or ripe, cooked or raw freezes well and may be packed in plastic bags and frozen for future use. Sieved ripe breadfruit needs 1 tablespoon of lemon juice per cup to prevent darking while frozen. All must be heated or steamed before using.
Leftover breadfruit: Cold leftover breadfruit may be sliced and fried in butter, margarine or bacon fata and used as a vegetable.
Charcoal cooked: To cook breadfruit on live charcoal fire, place fruit on a good clear fire, and keep turning until it is pretty well blackened. Take off, heat the fruit to soften it , open and take out the core and burn skin and serve. Butter or coconut cream add a nice flavor.
The dried fruit has been made into flour and improved methods have been explored in Barbados and Brazil with a view to substituting breadfruit in part for wheat flour in bread making. The combination has been found more nutritious than wheat flour alone. Breadfruit flour is much richer than wheat flour in lysine, and other essential amino acids
Now, for the restaurateurs, hoteliers, fast-food operators, the regular housewife and all those islanders or not who can appreciate the magic of breadfruit. Here we go:
Breadfruit chips, deep fried breadfruit, Spiced breadfruit, Green breadfruit pupu.
Breadfruit Salad I, and Breadfruit salad II, Breadfruit Salad with Shrimp, Breadfruit Tuna Salad.
Main course Dishes
Baked Ripe breadfruit, Boiled Breadfruit, Breadfruit Casserole, Breadfruit Corned Beef Patties, Breadfruit Fritters, Breadfruit Fritters with Fruit Sauce, Fruit Sauce, Breadfruit Poi (Poi Ulu), Breadfruit with Pork chops, Breadfruit- Tuna Patties, Buttered Breadfruit, Baked or Broiled, Golden Breadfruit, Sauteed Breadfruit, Scalloped Breadfruit, Steamed Breadfruit.
Breadfruit Bread, Ulu Biscuits, Ulu Buns with Portuguese sausage. Have you tried using green breadfruit, cooked, in place of boiled potatoes in your favorite potato salad? Delicious, try it, you’ll like it. Ulu Dumplings.
Breadfruit Chiffon Pie, Breadfruit—Coconut pudding IPapaiee), Breadfruit Fry Cakes, Candied breadfruit, One Ulu (Breadfruit) Cake, Spiced Breadfruit Drop Doughnuts.
Not only that. Livestock animals love it. Breadfruit leaves are eagerly eaten by domestic livestock.
Most importantly, not many people know that breadfruit can be made into flour. Two ways, the homemade way: Cut some thin slices from a mature breadfruit, remove the outer skins and remove the pith or heart from the slices. They should be placed in the sun to become dry and crisp. After this the breadfruit slices should be placed into a mortar and powdered with pestle until they are reduced to powder.
The fine flour left after shifting through a sieve can be mixed with regular wheat flour for binding of breadfruit flour, especially when it is used in the making of dimpling or for breadfruit porridge.
*Orlando Huaman is a food technologist and freelance writer. Malololelei.