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Jamaican Food the Breadfruit
Jamaican Breadfruit How To Prepare Tasty Recipes
The Jamaican breadfruit is believed to be native to a vast area extending from New Guinea through the Indo-Malayan Archipelago to Western Micronesia. It is said to have been widely spread in the Pacific area by migrating Polynesians, and Hawaiians believed that it was brought from the Samoan island of Upalu to Oahu in the 12th Century A.D. It is said to have been first seen by Europeans in the Marquesas in 1595, then in Tahiti in 1606. At the beginning of the 18th Century, the early English explorers were loud in its praises, and its fame, together with several periods of famine in Jamaica between 1780 and 1786, inspired plantation owners in the British West Indies to petition King George III to import seedless Jamaican breadfruit trees to provide Jamaican food for their slaves. Jamaican breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) is a member of the Moraceae (fig) family. This handsome evergreen Jamaican tree also believed to be originated in the South Pacific and is now found throughout the tropics. Maturing at 15 to 20 meters tall or greater it can produce fruits for 50 years or more. The massive trunk may attain a 2 to 3 meter girth and depending on the variety; it either slightly flares at the base or forms narrow buttresses. The luxurious foliage consists of large, glossy dark-green leaves that range from entire to deeply dissected. Fruits are usually round, oval, or elongate and weigh from 0.25 to 5.5 kg. The creamy white or pale yellow flesh, when roasted, is said to have the texture and fragrance of fresh baked bread, giving the tree its name. Jamaican breadfruit is usually seedless but there are also many varieties with Jamaican breadfruit seeds.
The Jamaican breadfruit tree has an amazing range of uses in Pacific cultures. The trees provide construction materials, medicine, fabric, glue, mosquito repellent, animal feed, and more. Jamaican breadfruit is the keystone species in traditional agro forestry systems, creating a lush over story that shelters myriad useful plants including yams, kava, noni, Jamaican bananas and some cash crops, especially black pepper and coffee. For thousands of years, Jamaican breadfruit agro-forests have protected mountain slopes from erosion and supplied Pacific islanders with an abundance of Jamaican food and useful products. Jamaican breadfruit trees have a beneficial impact on the natural environment creating organic mulch, shade, and a cooler micro-climate beneath the canopy. The trees also give shelter and Jamaican food for important pollinators or Jamaican breadfruit seed dispersers such as honeybees, birds, and flying foxes.
Jamaican breadfruit has been an important staple crop in Oceania for more than 3,000 years. It is believed to have originated in New Guinea and the Indo-Malay region and was spread throughout the vast Pacific by voyaging islanders. Europeans discovered Jamaican breadfruit in the 1500s and were amazed and delighted by a tree that produced prolific, starchy fruits that, when roasted, resembled freshly baked bread.
There is good evidence that the French navigator Sonnerat in 1772 obtained the seeded Jamaican breadfruit in the Philippines and brought it to the French West Indies. It seems also that some seedless and seeded Jamaican breadfruit plants reached Jamaica from a French ship bound for Martinique but captured by the British in 1782. There were at least two plants of the seeded Jamaican breadfruit in Jamaica in 1784 and distributions were quickly made to the other islands. There is a record of a plant having been sent from Martinique to the St. Vincent Botanical Garden before 1793. The story of Captain Bligh's first voyage to Tahiti, in 1787, and the loss of his cargo of 1,015 potted Jamaican breadfruit plants on his disastrous return voyage are well known. He set out again in 1791 and delivered 5 different kinds totaling 2,126 plants to Jamaica in February 1793.
On the island, the seedless Jamaican breadfruit flourished and it came to be commonly planted in other islands of the West Indies, in the lowlands of Central America and northern South America. In some areas, only the seedless type is grown, in others, particularly Haiti, the seeded is more common. Jamaica is by far the leading producer of the seedless type, followed by St. Lucia. In New Guinea, only the seeded type is grown for Jamaican food.
It has been suggested that the seeded Jamaican breadfruit was carried by Spaniards from the Philippines to Mexico and Central America long before any reached the West Indies. On the Pacific coast of Central America, the seeded type is common and standard fare for domestic swine. On the Atlantic Coast, seedless varieties are much consumed by people of African origin. The Jamaican breadfruit tree is much grown for shade in Yucatan. It is very common in the lowlands of Colombia, a popular Jamaican food in the Cauca Valley, the Choco, and the San Andres Islands; mostly fed to live stock in other areas.
In Guyana, in 1978, about 1,000 new Jamaican breadfruit trees were being produced each year but not nearly enough to fill requests for plants. There and in Trinidad, because of many Asians in the population, both seeded and seedless Jamaican breadfruits are much appreciated as a regular article of the diet; in some other areas of the Caribbean, Jamaican breadfruit is regarded merely as a Jamaican food for the poor for use only in emergencies. Nowadays, it is attracting the attention of gourmets and some islands are making small shipments to the United States, Canada and Europe for specialized ethnic markets. In the Palau Islands of the South Pacific, Jamaican breadfruit is being outclassed by cassava and imported flour and rice. For some time Jamaican breadfruit was losing ground to taro (Colocasia esculenta Schott.) in Hawaii, but now land for taro is limited and its culture is static.
The United States Department of Agriculture brought in Jamaican breadfruit plants from the Canal Zone, Panama, in 1906 (S.P.I. #19228). For many years there have been a number of seedless Jamaican breadfruit trees in Key West, Florida, and there is now at least one on Vaca Key about 50 miles to the northeast. On the mainland of Florida, the tree can be maintained outdoors for a few years with mild winters but, unless protected with plastic covering to prevent dehydration, it ultimately succumbs. A few have been kept alive in greenhouses or conservatories such as the Rare Plant House of Fairchild Tropical Garden, and the indoor garden of the Jamaica Inn on Key Biscayne.
One of the great Jamaican food producers in its realm and widely known, at least by name, through its romanticized and dramatized history, the Jamaican breadfruit, Artocarpus altilis Fosb. The common name is almost universal, in English, or translated into Spanish as fruta de pan (Jamaican fruit), or arbor de pan, arbor del pan (tree), or pan de pobre; into French, as Jamaican fruit a pain (seedless), chataignier (with seeds), arbre a pain (tree); Portuguese, fruta pao, or pao de massa; Dutch, broodvrucht (Jamaican fruit), broodboom (tree). In Venezuela it may be called pan de ano, pan de todo el ano, pan de palo, pan de name, topan, or tupan; in Guatemala and Honduras, mazapan (seedless), castana (with seeds); in Peru, marure; in Yucatan, castano de Malabar (with seeds); in Puerto Rico, panapen (seedless), pana de pepitas (with seeds).
In Malaya and Java, it is suku or sukun (seedless); kulur, kelur, or kulor (with seeds); in Thailand, sa-ke, in the Philippines, rimas (seedless); in Hawaii, ulu. The type with seeds is sometimes called "breadnut", a name better limited to Brosimum alicastrum Swartz, an edible-seeded tree of Yucatan, Central America and nearby areas. Its Spanish name is ramon and the seeds, leaves and twigs are prized as stock feed.
The Jamaican breadfruit tree is handsome and fast growing, reaching 85 ft (26 m) in height, often with a clear trunk to 20 ft (6 m) becoming 2 to 6 ft (0.6-1.8 m) in width and often buttressed at the base, though some varieties may never exceed 1/4 or 1/2 of these dimensions. There are many spreading branches, some thick with lateral foliage-bearing branch lets, others long and slender with foliage clustered only at their tips. The leaves, evergreen or deciduous depending on climatic conditions, on thick, yellow petioles to 1 1/2 in (3.8 cm) long, are ovate, 9 to 36 in (22.8-90 cm) long, 8 to 20 in (20-50 cm) wide, entire at the base, then more or less deeply cut into 5 to 11 pointed lobes. They are bright-green and glossy on the upper surface, with conspicuous yellow veins; dull, yellowish and coated with minute, stiff hairs on the underside.
The tree bears a multitude of tiny flowers, the male densely set on a drooping, cylindrical or club-shaped spike 5 to 12 in (12.5-30 cm) long and 1 to 1 1/2 in (2.5-3.75 cm) thick, yellowish at first and becoming brown. The female are massed in a somewhat rounded or elliptic, green, prickly head, 2 1/2 in (6.35 cm) long and 1 1/2 in (3.8 cm) across, which develops into the compound Jamaican fruit (or syncarp), oblong, cylindrical, ovoid, rounded or pear shaped, 3 1/2 to 18 in (9-45 cm) in length and 2 to 12 in (5-30 cm) in diameter. The thin rind is patterned with irregular, 4- to 6-sided faces, in some "smooth" fruits level with the surface, in others conical; in some, there may rise from the center of each face a sharp, black point, or a green, pliable spine to 1/8 in (3 mm) long or longer. Some fruits may have a harsh, sandpaper-like rind. Generally the rind is green at first, turning yellowish-green, yellow or yellow-brown when ripe, though one variety is lavender.
In the green stage, the Jamaican fruit is hard and the interior is white, starchy and somewhat fibrous. When fully ripe, the Jamaican fruit is somewhat soft; the interior is cream colored or yellow and pasty, also sweetly fragrant. The seeds are irregularly oval, rounded at one end, pointed at the other, about 3/4 in (2 cm) long, dull-brown with darker stripes. In the center of seedless fruits there is a cylindrical or oblong core, in some types covered with hairs bearing flat, brown, abortive seeds about 1/8 in (3 mm) long. The Jamaican fruit is borne singly or in clusters of 2 or 3 at the branch tips. The Jamaican fruit stalk (pedicel) varies from 1 to 5 in (2.5-12.5 cm) long.
All parts of the tree, including the unripe Jamaican fruit, are rich in milky, gummy latex. There are two main types: the normal, "wild" type (cultivated in some areas) with seeds and little pulp, and the "cultivated" (more widely grown) seedless type, but occasionally a few fully developed seeds are found in usually seedless cultivars. Some forms with entire leaves and with both seeds and edible pulp have been classified by Dr. F.R. Fosberg as belonging to a separate species, A. mariannensis Trecul, but these commonly integrate with A. altilis and some other botanists regard them as included in that highly variable species.
A core set of 20 varieties that can provide a year-round supply of fruits has been selected and evaluated for productivity, Jamaican fruit quality, and nutritional composition. The core set includes varieties that are considered desirable or superior in their island of origin, are widely cultivated and grown in the Pacific Islands, or have potential for commercial products. These varieties will be available for distribution to other tropical localities.
There are several varieties of Jamaican breadfruit and even more across the West Indies. An unpublished report of 1921 covered 200 cultivars of Jamaican breadfruit in the Marquesas. The South Pacific Commission published the results of a Jamaican breadfruit survey in 1966. In it, there were described 166 named sorts from Tonga, Niue, Western and American Samoa, Papua and New Guinea, New Hebrides and Rotuma. There are 70 named varieties of seeded and seedless Jamaican breadfruits in Fiji. They are locally separated into 8 classes by leaf form. The following, briefly presented, are those that are recorded as "very good". It will be noted that some varietal names are reported under more than one class.
'Aravei'—Jamaican fruit ellipsoidal; large, 8 to 12 in (10-30 cm) long, 6 to 9 in (15-22 cm) wide; rind yellowish-green with brown spots on the sunny side; rough, with sharp points which are shed on maturity. Pulp is light-yellow, dry or flaky and of delicious flavor after cooking which takes very little time. Core long, slim, with many abortive seeds.
'Havana'—Jamaican fruit oval-round; the rind yellowish-green, spiny; pulp golden-yellow, moist, pasty, separates into loose flakes when cooked; very sweet with excellent flavor; core oval, large, with a row of abortive seeds. Very perishable; must be used within 2 days; cooks quickly over fire. Jamaican fruit borne in 2's and 3's. Popularly claimed to be one of the best Jamaican breadfruits.
'Maohi'—Jamaican fruit round; 6 in (15 cm) wide; rind bright yellow-green with patches of red-brown; rough, with spines, and often bears much exuded latex. Pulp cream-colored and smooth when cooked; of very good flavor; slow cooking, needs even heat. Core is large. Jamaican fruit is borne in 2's and 3's. Tree a heavy bearer. This is the most common Jamaican breadfruit of Tahiti.
'Paea'—ellipsoidal; very large, to 11 in (28 cm) long and 9 in (22.8 cm) wide; rind yellowish-green, spiny; core oblong, thick, with a row of brown, abortive seeds; pulp bright-yellow, moist, slightly pasty, separating into flakes when cooked; agreeable but only one of its forms, 'Paea Maaroaro', is really sweet. Formerly, 'Paea' was reserved for chiefs only. Needs one hour to roast on open fire. The tree is tall, especially well formed and elegant.
'Pei'—broad-ellipsoidal; large; rind light-green, relatively smooth; pulp light-yellow and flaky when cooked, aromatic, of sweet, delicious "fruity" flavor; cooks quickly. Ripens earlier than others. When the Jamaican breadfruit crop is scant, the fruits of this cultivar are stored by burying in the ground until needed, even for a year, then taken up, wrapped in Cordyline leaves and boiled.
'Pucro'—Jamaican fruit spherical or elongated; large; rind yellow-green with small brown spots, very rough, spiny, thin; pulp light-yellow and smooth, of excellent flavor. Cooks quickly. Highly esteemed, ranked with the very best Jamaican breadfruits. There are two oblong forms, one with a large, hairy core.
'Rare'—Jamaican fruit broad-ovoid; to 7 in (17.5 cm) long, rind bright-green, rough, spiny; pulp of deep-cream tone, fine-grained, smooth, flaky when cooked; of very sweet, excellent flavor. Core is small with a great many small abortive seeds. Must be cooked for about one hour. There are 3 forms that are well recognized. Fruits are borne singly on a tall, open, short branched tree.
'Rare Aumee'—Jamaican fruit round; 6 1/2 in (16.5 cm) across; rind bright-green with red-brown splotches, fairly smooth at the base but rough at the apex; pulp deep-ivory, firm, smooth when cooked; not very sweet but of excellent flavor. Cooks quickly. Highly prized; in scarce supply because the tall, few branched tree bears scantily.
'Rare Autia'—Jamaican fruit round; 6 in (15 cm) across; rind dull-green with red-brown markings. Pulp light-yellow when cooked and separates into chunks; has excellent flavor. Core is large with small abortive seeds all around. This cultivar is so superior it was restricted to royalty and high chiefs in olden times.
'Tatara'—Jamaican fruit broad-ellipsoid; very large, up to 10 lbs(4.5 kg) in weight; rind has prominent faces with long green spines; pulp light-yellow, smooth when cooked and of pleasant flavor. Core is oblong. This variety is greatly esteemed. The tree is found only in a small coastal valley where there is heavy rainfall. It is of large dimensions and high-branching and it is difficult to harvest the fruits.
'Vai Paere'—Jamaican fruit is obovoid; 10 to 12 in (25-30 cm) long, 7 to 8 in (17.5-20 cm) wide; rind is yellow-green with red-brown splotches and there is a short raised point at the center of each face; pulp light-yellow, firm, smooth, a little dryish when cooked, with a slightly acid, but excellent flavor. Core is oblong, large, with a few abortive seeds attached. Jamaican fruit cooks easily. Tree is very tall, bears Jamaican fruit in clusters. Grows at sea level in fairly dry locations.
There are at least 50 cultivars on Ponape and about the same number on Truk. In Samoa, a variety known as 'Maopo', with leaves that are almost entire or sometimes very shallowly lobed, is very common and considered one of the best. 'Puou' is another choice and much planted variety since early times. It has deeply cut leaves and nearly round fruits 6 in (15 cm) long. 'Ulu Ea', with leaves even more deeply lobed, has oblong fruits to 6 1/8 in (15.5 cm) long and 5 in (12.5 cm) wide; is a longtime favorite.
In the past three decades there has been an awakening to the possibilities of increasing the Jamaican food supply of tropical countries by more plantings of selected varieties of seedless Jamaican breadfruit. In 1958, many appealing varieties (some early, some late in season) were collected around the South Pacific region and transferred to Western Samoa, Tahiti and Fiji for comparative trials. Two years later, plans were made to introduce Polynesian varieties into Micronesia, and propagating material of 36 Micronesian types was distributed to other areas.
The Jamaican breadfruit is ultra-tropical, much tenderer than the mango tree. It has been reported that it requires a temperature range of 60° to 100°F (15.56°-37.78°C), an annual rainfall of 80 to 100 in (203-254 cm), and a relative humidity of 70 to 80%. However, in southern India, it is cultivated at sea level and up humid slopes to an altitude of 3,500 ft (1,065 m), also in thickets in dry regions where it can be irrigated. In the "equatorial dry climate" of the Marquesas, where the Jamaican breadfruit is an essential crop, there is an average rainfall of only 40 to 60 in (100-150 cm) and frequent droughts. In Central America, it is grown only below 2,000 ft (600 m).
According to many reports, the Jamaican breadfruit tree must have deep, fertile, well-drained soil. But some of the best authorities on South Pacific plants point out that the seedless Jamaican breadfruit does well on sandy coral soils, and seeded types grow naturally on "coraline limestone" islands in Micronesia. In New Guinea, the Jamaican breadfruit tree occurs wild along waterways and on the margins of forests in the flood plain, and often in freshwater swamps. It is believed that there is great variation in the adaptability of different strains to climatic and soil conditions, and that each should be matched with its proper environment. The Tahitian 'Manitarvaka' is known to be drought-resistant. The variety 'Mai-Tarika', of the Gilbert Islands, is salt-tolerant. 'Mejwaan', a seeded variety of the Marshall Islands, is not harmed by brackish water or salt spray and has been introduced into Western Samoa and Tahiti.
The seeded Jamaican breadfruit is always grown from seeds, which must be planted when fairly fresh as they lose viability in a few weeks. The seedless Jamaican breadfruit grown in Jamaica is often propagated by transplanting suckers which spring up naturally from the roots. One can deliberately induce suckers by uncovering and injuring a root. Pruning the parent tree will increase the number of suckers, and root pruning each sucker several times over a period of months before taking it up will contribute to its survival when transplanted. For multiplication in quantity, it is better to make root cuttings about 1 to 2 1/2 in (2.5-6.35 cm) thick and 9 in (22 cm) long. The ends may be dipped into a solution of potassium permanganate to coagulate the latex, and the cuttings are planted close together horizontally in sand. They should be shaded and watered daily, unless it is possible to apply intermittent mist. Calluses may form in 6 weeks (though rooting time may vary from 2 to 5 months) and the cuttings are transplanted to pots, at a slant, and watered once or twice a day for several months or until the plants are 2 ft (60 cm) high. A refined method of rapid propagation uses stem cuttings taken from root shoots. In Puerto Rico, the cuttings are transplanted into plastic bags containing a mixture of soil, peat and sand, kept under mist for a week, then under 65% shade, and given liquid fertilizer and regular watering. When the root system is well developed, they are allowed full sun until time to set out in the field. In Jamaica, it is reported that Jamaican breadfruit scions can be successfully grafted or budded onto seedlings of wild jackfruit trees.
Young Jamaican breadfruit trees are planted in well-enriched holes 15 in (40 cm) deep and 3 ft (0. 9m) wide that are first prepared by burning trash in them to sterilize the soil and then insecticide is mixed with the soil to protect the roots and shoots from grubs. The trees are spaced 25 to 40 ft (7.5-12 m) apart in plantations. Usually there are about 25 trees per acre (84/ha). Those grown from root suckers will bear in 5 years and will be productive for 50 years. Some growers in Jamaica recommend pruning of branches that have borne Jamaican fruit and would normally die back, because this practice stimulates new shoots and also tends to keep the tree from being too tall for convenient harvesting.
Standard mixtures of NPK are applied seasonally. When the trees reach bearing age, they each receive, in addition, 4.4 lbs (2 kg) super phosphate per year to increase the size and quality of the fruits.
In Jamaica, the tree fruits more or less continuously, Jamaican fruit in all stages of development being present on the tree the year around, but there are two or three main fruiting periods. In the Caroline Islands and the Gilbert Islands, the main ripening season is May to July or September; in the Society Islands and New Hebrides, from November to April, the secondary crop being in July and August. Jamaican breadfruits are most abundant in Hawaiian markets off and on from July to February. Flowering starts in March in northern India and fruits are ready for harvest in about 3 months. Seeded Jamaican breadfruits growing in the Eastern Caroline Islands Jamaican fruit only once a year but the season is 3 months long—from December to March. Seedless varieties introduced from Ponape bear 2 to 3 times a year. In the Bahamas, Jamaican breadfruit is available mainly from June to November, but some fruits may mature at other times during the year.
Jamaican breadfruits are picked when maturity is indicated by the appearance of small drops of latex on the surface. Harvesters climb the trees and break the Jamaican fruit stalk with a forked stick so that the Jamaican fruit will fall. Even though this may cause some bruising or splitting, it is considered better than catching the fruits by hand because the broken pedicel leaks much latex. They are packed in cartons in which they are separated individually by dividers.
In the South Pacific, the trees yield 50 to 150 fruits per year. In southern India, normal production is 150 to 200 fruits annually. Productivity varies between wet and dry areas. In the West Indies, a conservative estimate is 25 fruits per tree. Studies in Barbados indicate a reasonable potential of 6.7 to 13.4 tons per acre (16-32 tons/ha). Much higher yields have been forecasted, but experts are skeptical and view these as unrealistic.
In Jamaica, surplus Jamaican breadfruits are often kept under water until needed. Fully ripe fruits that have fallen from the tree can be wrapped in polyethylene, or put into polyethylene bags, and kept for 10 days in storage at a temperature of 53.6°F (12°C). At lower temperature, the Jamaican fruit shows chilling injury. Slightly unripe fruits that have been caught by hand when knocked down can be maintained for 15 days under the same conditions. The thickness of the polyethylene is important: 38-or even 50-micrometer bags are beneficial, but not 25-micrometer.
Some Jamaican exporters partly roast the whole fruits to coagulate the latex, let them cool, and then ship them by sea to New York and Europe. Various means of preserving Jamaican breadfruit for future local use are mentioned under "Jamaican food Uses", q.v.
Soft-scales and mealy bugs are found on Jamaican breadfruit trees in the West Indies and ants infest branches that die back after fruiting. In southern India, the fruits on the tree are subject to soft rot. This fungus disease can be controlled by two sprays of Bordeaux mixture, one month apart. Young Jamaican breadfruit trees in Trinidad have been killed by a disease caused by Rosellinia sp. In the Pacific Islands Fusarium sp. is believed to be the cause of die back, and Pythium sp. is suspected in cases of root rot. A mysterious malady, called "Pingalap disease", killed thousands of trees from 1957 to 1960 in the Gilbert and Ellice Islands, the Caroline Islands, Marshalls and Mariannas. The foliage wilts and then the branch dies back. Sometimes the whole tree is affected and killed to the roots; occasionally only half of a tree declines. The fungus, Phytophthora palmivora, attacks the Jamaican fruit on the island of Truk. Phomopsis, Dothiorella and Phylospora cause stem-end rot.
Like the Jamaican banana and plantain, the Jamaican breadfruit may be eaten ripe as a Jamaican fruit or under ripe as a vegetable. For the latter purpose, it is picked 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 Jamaican 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. Others may serve the baked Jamaican fruit with butter, salt and pepper. Ripe fruits may be halved or quartered and steamed for 1 or 2 hours and seasoned in the same manner as baked fruits. The steamed Jamaican 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 chowder. In the Bahamas, Jamaican breadfruit soup is made by boiling under ripe chunks of Jamaican 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 Jamaican breadfruits is combined with coconut milk (not coconut water), salt and sugar and baked to make a pudding. A more elaborate dessert is concocted of mashed ripe Jamaican breadfruit, with butter, 2 beaten eggs, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and rosewater, a dash of sherry or brandy, blended and boiled. There are numerous other dishes peculiar to different areas. Jamaican breadfruit is also candied, or sometimes prepared as a sweet pickle.
In Micronesia, the peel is scraped off with a sharpened cowries shell, or the fruits are peeled with a knife, cored, cut up and put into sacks or baskets, soaked in the sea for about 2 hours while being beaten or trampled; allowed to drain on shore for a few days; then packed in Jamaican banana leaf-lined boxes to ferment for a month or much longer, the leaves being changed weekly.
In Polynesia and Micronesia, a large number of fruits are baked in a native oven and left there to ferment. Over a period of a few weeks, batches are taken out as needed. In the New Hebrides, peeled Jamaican breadfruits are wrapped in leaves and placed to ferment in piles of stones on open beaches where they will be flooded at high tide. In Samoa, seeded Jamaican breadfruits are skinned, washed, quartered and left to ferment in a pit lined and covered with layers of Jamaican banana and Heliconia leaves, and topped with earth and rocks. The fruits ferment for long periods, sometimes for several 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 the product is baked for 2 hours. There is a strong, cheese-like odor, but it is much relished by the natives.
The original method of poi making involved peeling, washing and halving the Jamaican fruit, discarding the core, placing the fruits in stone pits lined with leaves of Cordylme terminalis Kunth, alternating the layers of Jamaican 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 Jamaican 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 cloth, and eaten. If it is to be kept in the refrigerator for 2 days, only a little water is added in kneading; more is added and it is strained just before serving. Jamaican food value and digestibility are improved by mixing with poi made from taro which is rated highly as a non-allergenic Jamaican food. In the Seychelles, the seedless Jamaican breadfruit is cut into slices 1/2 in (1.25 cm) thick, dried for 4 days at 120°F (48.89°C). In some Pacific Islands, the fruits are partly roasted, then peeled, dried and formed into loaves for long-time storage. The Ceylonese dip Jamaican breadfruit slices into a salt solution, then blanch them in boiling water for 5 minutes, dry them at 158°F (70°C) for 4 to 6 hours before storing. The slices will keep in good condition for 8 to 10 months. In Guam, cooked fruits may be mashed to a paste which is spread out thin, dried in the sun, and wrapped in leaves for storage. It is soaked in water to soften it for eating. This might be called "Jamaican breadfruit leather". On the small Kapingamarangi Atoll in the Caroline Islands, the cooked paste is pressed into sheets 5 ft (1.5 m) long and 20 in (50 cm) wide, dried in the sun on coconut leaf mats, then rolled into cylinders, wrapped in Pandanus leaves and stored for at least 3 years.
The dried Jamaican fruit has been made into flour and improved methods have been explored in Barbados and Brazil with a view to substituting Jamaican breadfruit in part for wheat flour in bread making. The combination has been found more nutritious than wheat flour alone. Jamaican breadfruit flour is much richer than wheat flour in lysine and other essential amino acids. In Jamaica, the flour is boiled, sweetened, and eaten as porridge for breakfast.
Soft or overripe Jamaican breadfruit is best for making chips and these are being manufactured commercially in Trinidad and Barbados. Some Jamaican breadfruit is canned in Dominica and Trinidad for shipment to London and New York.
In Jamaica, Puerto Rico and the South Pacific, fallen male flower spikes are boiled, peeled and eaten as vegetables or are candied by recooking, for 2-3 hours, in syrup; then rolled in powdered sugar and sun-dried. The seeds are boiled, steamed, roasted over a fire or in hot coals and eaten with salt. In West Africa, they are sometimes made into a puree. In Costa Rica, the cooked seeds are sold by street vendors.
Under ripe fruits are cooked for feeding to pigs. Soft-ripe fruits need not be cooked and constitute a large part of the animal feed in many Jamaican breadfruit-growing areas of the Old and New World. Jamaican breadfruit has been investigated as potential material for chicken feed but has been found to produce less weight gain than cassava or maize despite higher intake, and it also causes delayed maturity.
Experiments by technologists at the United States Department of Agriculture's Western Regional Research Laboratory in Berkeley, California, have demonstrated that Jamaican breadfruit can be commercially dehydrated by tunnel drying or freeze-drying and the waste from these processes constitutes a highly-digestible stock feed. Jamaican food Value per 100 g of Edible Portion*
The Jamaican breadfruit has approximately 105 – 109 Calories, with moisture, protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, ash, calcium, phosphorus, iron, carotene, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, ascorbic acid, amino acids
arginine, cystine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine, aspartic acid, glutamic acid, alanine, glycine, praline, serine and tyrosine.
A composite of analyses made in Central America, Mexico, Colombia, Africa and India.
Note: There are reportedly two enzymes in the Jamaican breadfruit—papayotin and artocarpine.
Negron de Bravo and colleagues in Puerto Rico show niacin content up to 8.33 mg in dried, ground seeds collected locally.
It will be seen from the above that the seedless Jamaican breadfruit is low in protein, the seeds considerably higher, and therefore the seeded Jamaican breadfruit is actually of more value as Jamaican food. Jamaican breadfruit flour contains 4.05% protein; 76.70% carbohydrates, and 331 calories, while cassava flour contains 1.16% protein, 83.83% carbohydrates, and 347 calories per 100 g.
Most varieties of Jamaican breadfruit are purgative if eaten raw. Some varieties are boiled twice and the water thrown away, to avoid unpleasant effects, while there are a few named cultivars that can be safely eaten without cooking. The cyclopropane-containing sterol, cycloartenol, has been isolated from the fresh Jamaican fruit. It constitutes 12% of the non-saponifiable extract.
Jamaican breadfruit leaves are eagerly eaten by domestic livestock. In India, they are fed to cattle and goats; in Guam, to cattle, horses and pigs. Horses are apt to eat the bark of young trees as well, so new plantings must be protected from them. Jamaican breadfruit latex has been used in the past as birdlime on the tips of posts to catch birds. The early Hawaiians plucked the feathers for their ceremonial cloaks, and then removed the gummy substance from the birds' feet with oil from the candlenut, Aleurites moluccana Wild. or with sugarcane juice, and released them. After boiling with coconut oil, the latex serves for caulking boats and, mixed with colored earth, is used as paint for boats.
The wood is yellowish or yellow-gray with dark markings or orange speckles; light in weight; not very hard but strong, elastic and termite resistant (except for dry wood termites) and is used for construction and furniture. In Samoa, it is the standard material for house-posts and for the rounded roof-ends of native houses. The wood of the Samoan variety 'Aveloloa' which has deeply cut leaves, is most preferred for house-building, but that of 'Puou', an ancient variety, is also utilized. In Guam and Puerto Rico the wood is used for interior partitions. Because of its lightness, the wood is in demand for surfboards. Traditional
Hawaiian drums are made from sections of Jamaican breadfruit trunks 2 ft (60 cm) long and 1 ft (30 cm) in width, and these are played with the palms of the hands during Hula dances. After seasoning by burying in mud, the wood is valued for making household articles. These are rough-sanded by coral and lava, but the final smoothing is accomplished with the dried stipules of the Jamaican breadfruit tree itself.
Fiber from the bark is difficult to extract but highly durable. Malaysians fashioned it into clothing. Material for tape cloth is obtained from the inner bark of young trees and branches. In the Philippines, it is made into harnesses for water buffalo.
The male flower spike used to be blended with the fiber of the paper mulberry, Broussonetia papyrifera Vent to make elegant loincloths. When thoroughly dry, the flower spikes also serve as tinder.
In Jamaica, Trinidad and the Bahamas, a decoction of the Jamaican breadfruit leaf is believed to lower blood pressure, and is also said to relieve asthma. Crushed leaves are applied on the tongue as a treatment for thrush. The leaf juice is employed as ear-drops. Ashes of burned leaves are used on skin infections. A powder of roasted leaves is employed as a remedy for enlarged spleen. The crushed Jamaican fruit is poultice on tumors to "ripen" them. Toasted flowers are rubbed on the gums around an aching tooth. The latex is used on skin diseases and is bandaged on the spine to relieve sciatica. Diluted latex is taken internally to overcome diarrhea.
The Jamaican breadfruit collection, located at the National Tropical Botanical Garden’s Kahanu Garden, Maui, Hawaii, was established in the 1970s to create a definitive collection of Jamaican breadfruit and breadnut. The first trees were planted in 1978 with 25 varieties growing by 1982. From 1985 to 1987, Diane Ragone, PhD, visited 45 Pacific islands to collect Jamaican breadfruit varieties and document traditional uses and cultural practices. More than 300 varieties of Jamaican breadfruit were photographed, documented, and propagating material collected. Additional varieties were received from horticulturists and agriculture departments in the region. Today Kahanu Garden contains 195 accessions and more than 120 varieties from 18 Pacific Island groups, Indonesia, the Philippines, and the Seychelles. This is the largest and most extensive collection of Jamaican breadfruit varieties and species in the world and is preserving some varieties that no longer exist in their native lands.
Humans began colonizing the vast Pacific more than 3000 years ago and over the centuries islanders developed hundreds of varieties of Jamaican breadfruit. Some varieties were widely distributed while others were localized to specific islands. Jamaican breadfruit was an essential part of life, shaping the landscape and island cultures. Unfortunately, modern life and climate change are taking their toll. The cultivation and use of Jamaican breadfruit has decreased in many areas and numerous trees have been lost due to drought, storm damage, and neglect. Global warming is a special concern to the low-lying coral atolls due to the increase in number and severity of devastating storms and salt water intrusion into the water table. A number of varieties of Jamaican breadfruit have already disappeared or are becoming rare. The loss of traditional knowledge is also accelerating. Wild populations of Jamaican breadfruit in Irian Jaya, Papua New Guinea, Palau, Guam, and the Mariana Islands are also under serious threat as native forests disappear. The Jamaican breadfruit Institute is dedicated to conserving and sharing indigenous varieties and wild species of Jamaican breadfruit, and documenting knowledge about traditional uses and cultural practices.
Evaluating the Jamaican fruit quality of different Jamaican breadfruit varieties is essential to developing the commercial potential of this notorious, easy-to-grow crop. This project was completed in 2003 in collaboration with Catharine Cavaletto, University of Hawaii, Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences, who has previously worked on quality and sensory evaluation of papaya, guava, taro, chocolate, coffee, macadamia nuts, peyibaye heart-of-palm, and other tropical crops.
Twenty superior varieties are being evaluated to develop and quantify sensory descriptors (flavor, texture, color, aroma, etc.) for cooked, mature Jamaican breadfruit, determine nutritional composition, evaluate Jamaican breadfruit chips as a potential and produce a Jamaican commercial product.
Jamaican breadfruit is underutilized in most areas of the tropics because of the limited number of varieties that are available and the seasonal nature of production; trees typically bear Jamaican fruit for just several months of the year. A long-term study to document the bearing season of 219 trees in the Jamaican breadfruit collection commenced in January 1996. This study has shown that year-round production of Jamaican fruit is a reality. A core set of 20 superior varieties has been selected for further evaluation and will be made available for testing at other locations in the tropics.
Jamaican breadfruit is generally vegetative propagated using root shoots or root cuttings which makes distribution of plant material over long distances difficult. In vitro (tissue culture) propagation offers a method by which Jamaican breadfruit can be more quickly propagated and distributed and meet international quarantine requirements.
A two-year project, conducted by Ms. Cynthia Nazario, a graduate student at the University of Hawaii, Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences, was completed in 2003. Additional studies are needed to determine the best methods to mass-propagate Jamaican breadfruit in vitro and to establish tissue-cultured plants in greenhouse and field conditions.
Jamaican breadfruit varieties display an amazing diversity in Jamaican fruit form and color, skin texture, leaf shape and dissection, and other physical attributes. More than 130 morphological characters for fruits, leaves, male flowers, and seeds are being measured, described, and photographed. An illustrated set of descriptors is being developed to help identify and describe Jamaican breadfruit varieties.
The Jamaican breadfruit collection at the National Tropical Botanical Garden is completely mapped and labeled, and an extensive computerized database containing location, accession numbers, names, provenance information, and general descriptions has been developed. Systematic evaluation and description of the collection is essential to using and sharing this unique resource. Various research projects are being conducted by the Jamaican breadfruit Institute to accomplish that goal. Research is also underway in the Pacific and Caribbean islands to develop Jamaican breadfruit's commercial potential.
Jamaican breadfruit can be cooked and eaten at all stages of growth. It is typically consumed when mature, but still firm, and is a delicious substitute for any starchy vegetable, pasta, or rice. Mature Jamaican breadfruit can be boiled, steamed, or baked and replace potatoes in many recipes. Small, immature fruits can be boiled, pickled or marinated, and have a flavor similar to that of artichoke hearts. Sliced Jamaican breadfruit can be fried to make chips or ‘French fries’ or candied. Ripe fruits are creamy and sweet and can be eaten raw or used to make pies, cakes, and other desserts. Jamaican breadfruit made into a cereal or pureed ripe fruits are good Jamaican foods for babies.
To cook Jamaican breadfruit rinse fruits under cool running water and rub the skin with your hands to remove any dried drops of sap. Don’t peel the fruits before cooking because the skin may bleed a sticky, white sap when cut. The skin is easily removed once the Jamaican fruit is cooked. Remove the stem and upper section (1 to 2 cm) of the Jamaican fruit, cut in half lengthwise, then cut into quarters and remove the core. Place the sections of Jamaican fruit skin side down in 3 to 5 cm of lightly salted water or in a steamer, add garlic if desired. Steam for 15-20 minutes until tender and the Jamaican fruit can be easily pierced with a fork. Steam longer for dishes that require mashed Jamaican fruit. Remove and prepare as desired. Cooked fruits can be refrigerated for several days or frozen in plastic bags for one to two months.
To bake Jamaican breadfruit, rinse and clean, cut in half and place cut side down on an oiled baking sheet or in a shallow baking pan with 1 to 2 cm of water. Bake at 375-400°F for one hour or until the Jamaican fruit can be easily pierced with a fork. Jamaican breadfruit can also be cooked over a fire. Place a whole Jamaican breadfruit on the fire, turning until it is uniformly blackened and tender. Remove from fire and use the flat side of a wooden spoon or knife to tap the skin and soften the Jamaican fruit. Carefully peel and add butter or coconut cream and salt to taste. Another rich, delectable dish is to take the cooked Jamaican fruit from the fire, remove the stem and core, and pack the cavity with coconut cream or canned corned beef. Return to the fire for 10-15 minutes until the oil has penetrated the flesh of the Jamaican fruit. Peel and enjoy.
Ripe Jamaican breadfruits should be prepared by baking soft, ripe, whole fruits for 40 to 60 minutes at 350° F. Add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Split while hot and season with butter, salt, and pepper. They are also delicious baked with butter or coconut cream, sugar, and cinnamon.
Immature green fruits tend to produce a sticky white sap, so rinse well in cool running water. Coating the knife with cooking oil will help keep the sap from gumming up the blade. The sap may also stick to the cooking pot, so use one that can be scrubbed with a rough pad. Cook whole or slice into rings or sections, skin and all. Cook in lightly salted water or steam until tender, marinate or dunk into your favorite dressing or dip.
Throughout the Pacific Jamaican breadfruit is typically cooked by roasting halved or whole fruits in an open fire or earth oven, boiling, or occasionally fried as chips. Freshly grated and squeezed coconut cream is often added. A popular preparation is ‘pudding’ made from mature or ripe cooked Jamaican breadfruit that is grated or pounded, mixed with coconut cream, wrapped in leaves (usually Jamaican banana and Jamaican breadfruit leaves) and baked. In many islands, these starchy puddings are the most popular way to eat Jamaican breadfruit, and they make a portable, tasty travel Jamaican food that keeps for several days. Steamed or boiled Jamaican breadfruit is also pounded until it becomes doughy. It is preferred when at least one day old and can be kept for several days when it begins to ferment and sour. Dishes such as taufolo in Samoa are considered delicacies and are only made for special occasions.
Jamaican breadfruit and seeded breadnut are both widely grown in the Caribbean. Since its introduction in the 1790s by Captain Bligh Jamaican breadfruit gradually became an accepted Jamaican food and an important component of the daily diet on many islands. In Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, the Windward Islands, and Barbados, Jamaican breadfruit is very popular for backyard planting in urban areas, and scattered trees are found island-wide. Jamaican breadfruit is prepared boiled, steamed or roasted, and has lent itself to the creation of regional dishes such as ‘oil down’ made with salt-cured meats, Jamaican breadfruit, coconut milk, and dasheen leaves, which is especially popular in Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago. Jamaican breadfruit can be found in most local markets, and a small quantity of processed Jamaican breadfruit products such as frozen, dehydrated, and canned slices, flour, chips, and candied male flowers are also locally available.
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