Nigerian breadfruit and its seeds are healthy eating diets!
NIGERIAN BREADFRUIT AND ITS SEEDS ARE NOT ONLY PROVIDE SPECIAL FOOD SPECIE BUT PROVIDE UNIQUE DELICIOUS AND NUTRITIOUS DIET SECOND TO NONE!
Nigerian breadfruit is unique and do not bear any resemblance with those so-called bread fruits grown in the West Indies and some other parts of the world. Nigerians eat the seeds which are generally called (Ukwa) in Igbo land! Once again, I must emphasise that Breadfruit (Ukwa) is a special unique natures's endownment or unique gift to the Igbo people of Nigeria. The fruit and its seeds are highly valued and regarded by the Igbos as much as yam tubers!
The Igbo people of Nigeria claim that God in his infinite wisdom and mercy gave the Igbos these two types of unique food stuff as means to wade off starvation against the Igbo children and the people! That literally, means that with (Ji and Ukwa) no Igbo child shall die of hunger!
There are many mysteries surrounding this food stuff under Igbo folklore which I may not be able to enumerate or write down here in this website.
THE BREAD FRUIT TREES, BREADFRUIT NUTS OR PODS AND THE SEEDS:
In my village, our people use to recite the old proverb which says that, I quote "If a child can't describe how Breadfruit tree grows, how it bears the fruit and how the fruit falls, or how the seeds are obtained, then he is not a son of the soil but a total stranger to the Igbo land or community!"
In Igbo dialect, "Obughi nwafo Igbo, obu onye mbira-mbiara!" When certain events happen, the Igbos will equally use one of their Igbo adages like, I quote, "Ukwa adighi adagbu ala puru ya!" This means that even though the ripped bread fruit falls with crashing heavy thunderous weight it will never harm the soil that helped it to germinate and grow!
THE BREADFRUIT(Artocarpus altilis) AND BREADFRUIT SEEDS(Artocarpus camaansi)
The breadfruit tree belongs to the Mulberry family Moraceae. During my early days in Igbo village, the youth take delight and also compete in planting breadfruit seeds. It can be amazing to watch them grow. We usually plant those that have germinated and watch them grow into full trees.
In our ignorance, we never realized that breadfruit trees take years to grow and years to bear fruits! Yes, it takes on the average about 10-15 years to grow and to start bearing fruits. A medium grown breadfruit tree will tower to the height of at least 40 -50 feet before it starts to bear fruits.
Generally, some of the trees can grow luxuriantly to heights of 200-300 feet! The average life expectancy should be between 100-120 years. As an important food tree, Nigerian Government are not known to be interested in passing laws to replant them. It is sad! However, during my researches for this article, I was told by a member of the Imo State Agricultural department that some efforts are being made to plant some species of breadfruits that can start yielding fruits within a few years.
Bread fruit is a seasonal nut(fruit) and are greenish in colour. They are rather pods because they are like cocoa or Brazil nuts. An average breadfruit nut or pod can weigh as much as 10-20lbs! To obtain the seeds, you have to allow the pod to rot. The seeds go into long processes before they could be fully extracted. An average heavy pod can contain numerous seeds running into hundreds!
Normally the nuts usually ripe and fall to the ground with heavy crashing sounds and this happens during the rainy seasons in Nigeria. Once the ripped rot pods are washed away with water, the seeds are then assembled and dried under the sunshine for a few days. The seeds then can either be roasted with the skins on or to be cooked and in that case, it will go through some very lengthy nerve racking tedious processes of removing the hard skins.
THIS PAGE WILL CONTINUE IN ANOTHER PAGE ENTITLED " BREADFRUIT RECIPES"
Nigerian food culture