Please won’t you be my neighbor? Meet ‘ulu

From the eatbreadfruit.com site, “E hālāwai pu me ka ‘ulu,” in other words, meet ‘ulu, or breadfruit. One of our adjacent neighbors is the Hawaii Ulu Cooperative, at the former location of the Food Basket Warehouse. We see a bit of their buildings peeking through the gigantic weed trees on the border (on their side), the African tulips and autograph plants. We occasionally hear the machinery running.

I really like what they’re doing. From their website, “The co-op is committed to the revival of ‘ulu to strengthen Hawai‘i’s food security and to the value of aloha ‘āina (love for the land) ….” According to the foodsecurityhawaii.org website, Hawaii imports 85% of its food. There was an article about the ‘ulu coop a few weeks ago in West Hawaii Today, “Hawaii Ulu Cooperative wants to see breadfruit on your plate.” Here’s an earlier article about the fruit itself.

It was quite some years ago that we got turned on to breadfruit. My aunty grew them, and even they didn’t really eat them earlier, but she told us how she discovered to really like them. She let them ripen until they were pretty soft to touch, then sliced it in half and baked it at 350. They smell so delicious, like a baking cake. It has a beautiful yellow color, a soft, starchy texture, and a slight pineapple, sweet potato taste. I love them served together with baked ube (purple sweet potato). I don’t add a thing (no butter, salt or spices required). But there are many other ways to enjoy them. For one, I made an ‘ulu chowder with hard ‘ulu, which you can use like a potato. Hubby says he wouldn’t, however, be able to eat ‘ulu as frequently as the Norwegian boy could eat potatoes. I’ve also enjoyed ‘ulu hummus from the store and the ‘ulu wedges at Magics Beach Grill.

Breadfruit grows well where we are and better where there’s a bit more rain than we get. If you drive along the Mamalahoa Hwy or in South Kona, you’ll see many huge breadfruit trees (some pruned horribly, e.g., just lopped where they get close to power lines). ‘Ulu has beautiful leaves and gives anywhere they grow a jungly, tropical feel.

  • 'ulu nursery at the 'Ulu Coop.

If you get a chance, try them, and try a fresh one if you can. If you’re in Hawaii you might have better luck finding them at a farmers market than at the grocery store. And there are times when fresh fruit are harder to come by. Also, factor in time to ripen if you can only find a hard one, or count on trying a recipe that works with firm ‘ulu.

Today I’ll leave you with a few images of Kona snow. These are the trees that were stumped a year ago. They’re ready to go now!

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