Breadfruit. Panbwa. Pana. This versatile crop has as many monikers as it does uses! Seen in recipes across the globe, it’s a staple for millions. It finds its roots throughout South and Southeast Asia and around the 18th century, it was introduced to the Caribbean islands. Today it can be found in the islands of the Pacific Ocean, Central America, and Africa. Breadfruit holds a prized position in pantries worldwide.
What is breadfruit?
Closely related to the jackfruit and mulberry, breadfruit is a flowering tree that can yield up to 200 fruit in a single season. The tree can reach highs of sixty feet and is known to grow just about anywhere they drop a seed. And the fruit itself can be anywhere from two to six pounds; some can swell to the size of a basketball! With its high yield and easy cultivation, it was only natural that this hearty fruit would rise through the ranks to be a prized ingredient in countless cultural recipes!
What does it taste like?
With so many different cultures and cooking styles at play, the breadfruit can take on a vast array of tastes. The flavor of the crop itself is more comparable to a vegetable than a fruit. Its taste varies at different points in its stages of growth. Young breadfruit is often boiled and tastes similar to a potato with a slight tinge of sweetness. When it’s slightly ripe, it grows sweeter and holds a similar texture to a plantain. True to its name, once fully mature, this crop can be baked to achieve a bread-like consistency. In all its forms, it’s often served with meat or fish.
Considered a superfood, the breadfruit is an exceptionally nutritious addition to any diet. It’s gluten-free and low in saturated fat. It also boasts a healthy dose of vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber, and some other essential vitamins and minerals.
Recipes to Try
If you’re a stranger to breadfruit or want to try a different cultures take of the dish, check out these traditional recipes:
- Caribbean Fried Breadfruit
- (Ukwa Etelu Ete (African Pottage)
- Flan de Pana
- Boiled Breadfruit in Coconut Milk
- Ulu Pancakes