Cooked Breadfruit (310/366)

Famous is `Ulupalakua – The pangs of the cold evening air – The home of the cowboys”
~ “`Ulupalakua” by John P. Watkins

‘Ulupalakua is a place in the Maui mountains whose name means “Breadfruit ripened on the back” – legend says it’s called that because ancient Hawaiians used to gather ‘ulu, or breadfruit, from Hana on the east side of the island, and by the time they brought it back through the mountains, the breadfruit would be ripe.

When Mom and I toured the Maui Brewing Co. brewery, one of the beers we got to sample was their seasonal “Liquid Breadfruit” and it was a great brew.  Mom was intrigued by the name and the fact that they chose breadfruit to use in their seasonal beer, so we wanted to try breadfruit on its own.

Mom had seen it in a supermarket sometime this week, so today we went to Foodland and looked for it, but it wasn’t there.  It wasn’t at Safeway either, and when we asked the grocery store workers where we might be able to find it, people said they have a hard time selling it normally and that it’s kind of expensive.  Then we realized it was actually at Whole Foods that we had seen it, all the way in Kahului, at the beginning of our trip.

Well, not to be deterred, we drove the 40 minute trek back up to Kahului this afternoon to get us a breadfruit.  We knew they were pricey, so they were definitely not cheap at Whole Foods.  When we saw them earlier this week, there were plenty of nice big ones, but by the time we got there today, it was slim pickings.  Oh well, at $4/lb. I didn’t really want to fork out that much for a huge breadfruit anyway.  The one we got was about three pounds.  $12!

We brought it back, and I washed the outside (they were pretty dusty – when they’re cut or damaged, they ooze a sappy liquid that’s very sticky.  More on that later.

I cut the breadfruit in half, and prepared to cut the core out.  Inside, the fruit with the core is kinda pretty, although it oxidizes and turns brown FAST.  I took these photos almost right after I cut the breadfruit.

I cut the halves into quarters and cut the core out.  What I saw after this I did not like.  Breadfruit has HOLES or tube-like chambers running through it!  Aaaaack!!!

I don’t know much about breadfruit makeup, but it seems like the holes/channels through the fruit correspond through the spots on the surface of the fruit.  It’s probably good that we got organic breadfruit, since they seem very susceptible to their environment.  Aack again!  Just under the skin, the breadfruit looks a bit like an alien egg or something!  Here’s another shot showing the oxidation of the fruit as well – the brown side of the fruit was cut about 10 minutes before the light side in the picture on the right – look at the difference!  But the fruit really does brown almost immediately after being cut.

I sliced the breadfruit as thin as possible, and put the slices into water so they wouldn’t brown as quickly.  Then I pan fried them.  Breadfruit chips!  Nom nom nom.

These were pretty good – they’re very similar to potato chips or sweet potato chips after cooking, but the fruit itself is surprisingly a lot more spongey than potatoes or sweet potatoes (and not because of the holes, heh) – it’s an interesting difference.  We also boiled the scraps that were too small to get a handle on while slicing, and Mom made hash with bacon and onions out of those.  Delicious.

If I find breadfruit again, I’ll probably pick one up and try more things with it.  You should too!  A word of caution if you do though: that sticky sap I told you about is no joke.  A tip I saw said you might want to oil your hands a bit while cutting them (but I thought that didn’t exactly sound super safe), or you could wear disposable food-grade gloves while preparing.  Since most people don’t have those at home, just know your hands will get sticky sap residue on them which takes a bit of elbow grease (and maybe some scraping) to remove, and prepare to soak everything you’ve used (knives, cutting board, etc.) for a while in hot soapy water afterward.  Happy cooking!

Related Links:
Breadfruit: National Tropical Botanical Garden

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