Breadfruit on the air

  • Photo courtesy of National Tropical Botanical Garden, property of National Geographic/Michael Muller

    Mike Opgenorth, left, introduces Gordon Ramsay to breadfruit, a fruit that can be used as a vegetable.

For more than 30 years, National Tropical Botanical Garden’s Breadfruit Institute has been studying hundreds of varieties of the starchy fruit.

These trees are powerhouses for food production and their fruit can be used in an almost endless ways. Plus, the trees themselves are being used in soil remediation, reforestry and regenerative agriculture, and are popular with the pollinators.

Recognize the trees and you’ll see them all over Kauai — peppered along the sides of the highway, as centerpieces in yards and gardens, even at the Kauai Community Correctional Center.

And Sunday you can catch a few tips on cooking these dragon egg-looking fruits from celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay on his new National Geographic series “Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted”. The episode is entitled “Hawaii’s Hana Coast”.

Ramsay visits some of the most remote places in the world on the series including Morocco, Alaska and New Zealand; and Maui.

After visiting NTBG’s 150-variety conservation collection at Kahanu Garden, Ramsay prepares a delicious breadfruit mash incorporated with venison to create a never-before-seen shepherd’s pie,” NTBG said in a press release about the episode.

The release continues: “Gordon Ramsay is among a growing number of chefs who are discovering why breadfruit is increasingly a favorite staple tree crop across the Pacific and in more than 90 countries and territories.”

Growing interest in putting breadfruit on the table caters to NTBG’s Breadfruit Institute’s goals, like the Global Hunger Initiative, which connects hungry families in subtropical and tropical regions with a tree of their own. Since the beginning of the program in 2009, more than 100,000 breadfruit trees have been sent to 44 countries, according to NTBG.

From research in micropropogation to partnerships with countries like Samoa and organizations like the Alliance to End Hunger, the Breadfruit Institute has been making strides with the fruit for years.

NTBG hosts the biggest living collection of breadfruit in the world — more than 300 trees. That’s where the plant material for micropropogation comes from. A collection is curated on Kauai, but Ramsay chose to visit NTBG’s Kahanu Garden.

According to National Geographic, Ramsay also does some spear diving off the coast of Hana in the episode and talks about Hawaii’s canoe plants; their history and their uses in the kitchen.

The “Hawaii’s Hana Coast” episode is set to air on Sunday at 4 p.m. on The National Geographic channel.

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