Breadfruit

Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis, of the family Moraceae) is native to Polynesia. The breadfruit tree was discovered by Captain Cook in Tahiti, and it was thought that the fruit would be a good source of food for slaves in the West Indies. Accordingly, Captain Bligh, on the Bounty, was commissioned to bring seedlings to the West Indies. A mutiny thwarted his first try, but he succeeded on his second trip. He even planted one himself in the botanic garden of St. Vincent in 1793, and apparently it is still there today (2).

The fruits are large, up to 10 in. in diameter, and borne on a large tree up to 60 ft tall. The edible portion is a thick, fleshy layer between the rind and the core. It is usually eaten immature when the flesh is still white and is boiled, baked, roasted, or fried but never eaten raw. Because of its high starch content, the fruit can be dried, ground into flour, and baked into bread, cakes, and a fermented dough product known as mahe. The usual breadfruit has no seeds and is propagated by cuttings, but some cultivars produce seeds, which are called bread nuts. The seeds are eaten boiled or roasted. Breadfruit has been introduced into all of the wet tropical countries, but it never attained the importance envisioned by Captain Cook.

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