Immature breadfruit at the National Tropical Botanical Garden’s Breadfruit Institute on Kaua’i, Hawai’i. Picked at this stage and boiled, pickled or marinated, breadfruit tastes like artichoke hearts. The fruit is typically eaten at the mature, yellower stage; when cooked, it smells like freshly baked bread. Amy Kumler

This Is Breadfruit

An ancient food for the modern world
Immature breadfruit at the National Tropical Botanical Garden’s Breadfruit Institute on Kaua’i, Hawai’i. Picked at this stage and boiled, pickled or marinated, breadfruit tastes like artichoke hearts. The fruit is typically eaten at the mature, yellower stage; when cooked, it smells like freshly baked bread. Photo by Amy Kumler

For thousands of years, breadfruit has been a staple crop in the Pacific Islands. Today, it’s helping solve some of the most urgent problems we face—climate change, depleted soils, economic insecurity, malnutrition and hunger—all at the same time. Breadfruit is most often eaten as a starch and smells like freshly baked bread when cooked, hence the name. This amazing, gluten-free food is the main ingredient in our savory breadfruit crackers.

Close shot of person using long knife to peel the skin from a roasted breadfruit
Peeling the charred skin from a roasted breadfruit. Once cooked, the fruit smells and tastes like freshly baked bread. Photo by Jack Wolford

The Nutritious, Gluten-Free Breadfruit 

Depending on when it’s picked, breadfruit can taste like an artichoke, a flavorful potato or a soft, sweet bread. Like rice and potatoes, it’s gluten-free, expanding the options for people who don’t eat gluten. Also, breadfruit has distinct dietary benefits that other staple starches don’t have. And it can be milled into a versatile, gluten-free flour.

Courtesy National Tropical Botanical Garden

Food and Income Where They’re Needed Most

Breadfruit trees are absurdly productive, yielding up to 800 pounds of nutritious food per tree, every year, for 50 years or more. They grow best in tropical and subtropical areas, where, according to the Global Hunger Initiative, more than 80% of the world’s hungriest people live. The trees have huge potential to provide food and give farmers reliable income.

Combats Climate Crisis

Breadfruit trees have large, broad leaves that efficiently draw down carbon dioxide. They’re traditionally planted in agroforests—farms that intercrop plants of varying heights, which together pull down even more carbon. The trees can thrive in places most impacted by the effects of climate change. They grow fast, quickly reforesting areas ruined by hurricanes or plantation agriculture, and they restore the health of depleted soils.

More About Agroforestry
Woman in colorful patterned skirt interviews local expert while sitting on a red bench in front of a store with green and red walls
Before establishing the National Tropical Botanical Garden's Breadfruit Institute in Hawai'i as its founding director, Diane Ragone spent decades researching and collecting breadfruit across the Pacific Islands. As part of her work, she interviewed regional and local experts to understand traditional customs and knowledge surrounding this ancestral crop. Here she talks with Matafaga Loa in Olosega Village, Manu'a Islands, American Samoa. 
Photo by Jim Wiseman   

Guardians of Breadfruit

Traditional wisdom and knowledge—combined with modern science—is reviving a lost food source, one our planet needs now more than ever.

A Brief but Amazing History of Breadfruit

Breadfruit originated in the Pacific thousands of years ago, becoming a cornerstone of the cultures that flourished there. Over time, mariners carried it to tropical regions around the world, enhancing their food systems and enriching their soil (Captain Bligh, of the ill-fated Bounty, was responsible for bringing breadfruit to Jamaica). Modern plantation-style agriculture steadily wiped out traditional breadfruit agroforests, though, and only recently has the alarm gone off. Now there’s widespread, urgent recognition of breadfruit’s gifts, and a great interest in planting the trees in agroforests once again.

Learn More

From Fruit to Flour: Our Supply Chain

We wanted to create a strong market for this fruit to increase its cultivation and expand the benefits it brings to humans and the planet. But once picked, breadfruit ripens fast—it can go from firm and starchy to custardlike in as little as a day. Our solution? Breadfruit flour, which is long-lasting and lends itself to creating many different products, including our new Breadfruit Cracker.

Learn More
Made With Breadfruit
Our salty, crisp, slightly sweet Honey Sesame Breadfruit Crackers taste great with fresh cheese. Photo by Amy Kumler