Across the Jamaican landscape, in almost every community, stands tall and majestic, 25m in height, with oval-shaped fruits, the infamous breadfruit tree. Breadfruit – white heart, yellow heart – a delectable, affordable staple for all palate and appetite. Captain William Bligh of the British Royal Navy brought over 300 breadfruit trees to Jamaica and planted them in St. Thomas in 1793. Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) also known as ‘Breshay’ was used as an economical way to feed the black labor population – slaves. In spite of such negative beginnings, the fruit has survived the test of time and has become an all-round staple that can be seen as part of the Jamaican meal time – breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack or supper.
White or yellow heart breadfruit can be roasted; however, the white-heart one takes a longer time to roast. White-heart breadfruit (either young or ‘fit’ – mature) is mainly boiled and used in soup; while a yellow-heart is good for roasting. Generally, a breadfruit that is ‘fit’ is used for roasting regardless of the type. A breadfruit that is almost ripe – ‘turn’- tastes sweet. It can be prepared in a number of ways; but the most popular methods are roasting, boiling, frying and baking and can be eaten with curried chicken/goat, ackee and saltfish, callaloo and saltfish and the list can go on.
The next time you visit Jamaica, make sure to inquire about breadfruit; try it, you may be pleasantly surprised. If you have tried it already, what’s your favorite style to eat it?