Breadfruit and Jackfruit

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

Breadfruit and jackfruit are fruits of two species of the Asian genus Artocarpus, a relative of the mulberry and fig, and resemble each other in structure. They’re very large assemblies of fused ovaries and their seeds; breadfruits may reach 9 lb/4 kg, and jackfruits 10 times that weight. Jackfruit, a native of India, has a conventional composition for a fruit—mostly water, with 8% sugar and 4% starch—and develops a strong, complex aroma with musky, berry, pineapple, and caramel notes. It’s eaten raw and in ice creams, as well as dried, preserved, and pickled. Breadfruit, whose origins in the Pacific islands remain unclear, gets its name from its very high starch content, as much as 65% by weight (with 18% sugar and just 10% water) when mature but unripe, and when cooked into a dry, absorbent mass. It’s a staple food in the South Pacific and in the Caribbean, where it was taken by Captain Bligh of the notorious Bounty mutiny. It may be boiled, roasted, fried, or fermented into a sour paste, then dried and ground into flour. Ripe breadfruit is sweet and soft, even semiliquid, and made into desserts.