Breadfruit in Hawaii: enjoy some healthy Hawaiian ulu in your diet

Breadfruit in Hawaii is becoming a more popular staple food in Hawaiian cuisine and starting to replace potatoes, poi or rice as a supplement in many households looking for a healthier alternative starch.

Did you know that Hawaiian breadfruit are members of the Moraceae family (fig) and that the fruit and seeds are all edible? Breadfruit in Hawaii are beneficial to the environment, are easy to grow on the island and they produce abundant and healthy fruit to use in savory or sweet dishes and even eaten raw. The ‘Tree of Bread’ has been used to combat hunger is many developing nations and is grown in Hawaii as one of those miracle fruits that is both nutritious and healthy and is considered a superfood on the islands. Trying some breadfruit in Hawaii and eating Hawaiian food is good, healthy and the way to eat on the islands.

What is breadfruit or Hawaiian Ulu

What is breadfruit or Hawaiian Ulu?

Native originally to New Guinea and the Malayan archipelago, breadfruit in Hawaii or Ulu fruit originally came from Southeast Asia and and Polynesia where it was grown extensively as a staple starch crop. Eventually, breadfruit was exported to grow in many other tropical environments around the world with many uses for the food and materials and exciting dishes made out of the fruit in new and innovative ways.

Introduction of breadfruit in Hawaii is fascinating where it was brought over by the Polynesians around 300AD as part of their canoe plants to grow on the islands.

A staple food of the Hawaiian people and used in a lot of popular Hawaiian Food or Traditional Hawaiian Food, Hawaiian breadfruit or ulu fruit was also a large part of the culture and spiritual life of ancient Hawaiians. The food and plant was used as a source of food, building material for shelter, sap for the sealant, wood for the canoes, local crafts and even medicine they used daily on the islands.

History of breadfruit in Hawaii

What are the breadfruit / ulu species grown in Hawaii

The species of breadfruit include three different types; Artocarpus Altilis Fosberg, Artocarpus Camansi Blanco and Artocarpus Maiannensis Trecul. Part of the fig family (Moracaeae), breadfruit has multiple uses as food, building material for shelter and canoes and even the sap was used as a sealant in building canoes. The leaves also have medicinal properties that cure skin and ear infections, cure toothaches and help with asthma conditions.

Breadfruit Nutritional Information

Breadfruit / Ulu Nutritional Information

There’s lots of breadfruit benefits and including it in your diet is a great way to have a balanced and healthy starch in your system. Breadfruit is rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre and consists of the following nutrients and vitamins:

  • High in Vitamin C 
  • Source of magnesium 
  • Source of Vitamin B1 
  • High in fibre 
  • Sodium-free
  • Fat Free

Here’s more information on breadfruit nutrition below

When is Breadfruit is ripe?

When is breafruit ripe and when is the season for breadfruit

Ripe breadfruit has a softer touch on the skin and an even pale color on the surface of fruit ranging from 6 to 8 inches. Ripening fruit develops with some reddish/brown areas with mottled irregular bumps that tells you that the ulu fruit is starting to ripen.

Surprisingly, breadfruit in Hawaii is available year round with very short seasonal gaps you can find breadfruit sold in the markets year round.

What does breadfruit taste like?

The fruit has creamy to yellow flesh that is pasty and sweet when eaten raw or cooked into a variety savory dishes. The fruit can be cooked at all different stages of maturity and the seeds can also be eaten when cooked.  When you bake, roast or boil breadfruit, it has a wonderful baked bread smell and is starchy.

Uses for eating Breadfruit

Uses for eating Breadfruit

In most Polynesian and Asian cultures, the fruit is consumed at all different stages of maturity and often used as a staple ingredient in soups, stews, salads (sliced and boiled) and the seeds can be boiled or roasted and resemble chestnuts in taste and texture. It can also be eaten raw when mature and creamy inside like a custard. Combined with coconut, sugar and salt and baked, it is made into a delicious pudding.

Gordon Ramsey gives a look at breadfruit on the islands

Interesting facts about Breadfruit or Hawaiian Ulu

Interesting facts about Breadfruit or Hawaiian Ulu

Breadfruit tree is closely related to Jackfruit and Breadnut that grow in equatorial lowland areas.

Polynesians transported their breadfruit with root cuttings and air layered plants to Hawaii to supplement their diets on the new lands. They also used the plant wood to build homes and canoes on the islands

Scientist have found fatty acids in the fruit that is helpful to repelling mosquitos

Breadfruits are the highest producing plants in the world with productive plants averaging over 200 grapefruit sized fruits per season.

A staple of the Hawaiian culture, breadfruit is sometimes mixed with poi to create a combination poi ulu that is both nutritious and delicious

Grow your own breadfruit tree

Grow your own breadfruit tree

Breadfruit trees are easy to grow and carefree in Hawaii. Once established the trees grow relatively fast and once mature will produce fantastic and abundant fruit that is both nutritious and tasty to eat. Breadfruit trees are best grown in sunny, well drained soil with amendments, your breadfruit three will thrive in the right conditions in Hawaii. It takes between three to five years for the trees to be productive and bear fruit to harvest. Mature trees can grow a height between forty to eighty feet.

Find out more about growing breadfruits here for more details and helpful information.

Here’s a primer on the various ulu varieties that grows here on the islands

Check out these fantastic Breadfruit recipes below

A versatile fruit that can be made into sweet or savory dishes, breadfruit is easy and can be used for so many delicious dishes. Check out these fantastic and easy recipes to follow and make on your own below.

Here’s a simple Ulu preparation basics

Easy to make breadfruit fritters

Delicious fried breadfruit balls

Easy Breadfruit fries recipe

How about some delicious Breadfruit curry?

Sweet breadfruit pudding

You can enjoy a sweet breadfruit indulgence with this delicious recipe below

Check these other Hawaiian food posts

Hawaiian fruit to try

Hawaiian desserts you should try now

Locals love these tasty Hawaiian snacks

Popular Hawaiian dishes you need to try

Traditional Hawaiian food favorite dishes

Comfort foods of Hawaii

Farmers markets in Hawaii

A Hawaii travel guide primer

Avocado season in Hawaii

Mango season in Hawaii

Pineapple season in Hawaii

Delicious Hawaiian Breakfast

Try some Lilikoi fruit from Hawaii

Learn more about the Breadfruit

Breadfruit Institute – in promoting the conservation study and use of breadfruit for consumption and growing.

The Hawaiian ulu – Neither bread nor fruit

Breadfruit and it’s Importance

Conclusion on Breadfruit or Ulu in Hawaii

If you found some other delicious fruit to try from this post, please share your experiences in the comments below for everyone to enjoy. Or even if you have any questions about visiting, I would be more than happy to answer them below.

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Noel Morata this Hawaii Life

Meet Noel Morata

Noel Morata is the creator of This Hawaii Life along with a small team of contributors. Living on the Big Island and traveling regularly to the neighbor islands, Noel and team actively search and share the latest information and updates to Hawaii travel, food, adventure and various lifestyle activities on the islands for your planning and vacation. Aloha and enjoy This Hawaii Life.