The tamarillo is known in most of the world as a Tree Tomato, and it is a tomato relative of the family Solanaceae. Technically, it is Solanum betaceum, and comes in varieties of color from red to gold. “Tamarillo” is a name chosen in 1967 as a marketing ploy by New Zealand growers to make it sound more exotic and to distinguish its fruity taste from that of the tomato. The fruit itself grows on a small, brittle tree, and each is about the size of an egg.
Tree tomatoes are native to the South American Andes, particularly of Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia, and Bolivia. New Zealand and Portugal account for most of the commercial crop. It can only be cultivated in northern climates in a greenhouse, and has been successfully grown this way.
Skins of the tamarillo are bitter, particularly in the red variety. The fruit should always be peeled to yield the best flavor in the flesh. The dark seeds are completely edible. Although the outer skin will peel, leaving the red inner skin, this is also bitter, and better results are obtained by paring off all the red color. See photo with portions of the inner skin left on and other portions pared away to reveal the gold flesh.
The flavor is both tart and sweet. It’s hard to describe. It’s a bit like a tart plum with overtones of tomato. I’ve been eating my way through a bag of them, and for me, there is a dusky aftertaste that keeps it from being on my list of favorites. That said, it’s not bad at all. The texture is something like an apricot. Gold tamarillos are supposed to be sweeter.
Although I’ve been eating them on yogurt or just alone, I think they are better suited for salads due to the aftertaste. The tangy taste would really enhance mixed greens. It would also be good with cheese. They can be poached, grilled, fried or baked.
The flavor suggests things to me like chutneys and jams to go with meats.
Each fruit has only about 25 calories, and provides vitamins A and C.
Easy Ideas for Red Tamarillo (peel first):
Eat out of hand
Cut up and add to fruit mixes, or as a topping for yogurt
Cut up and use on salads
Add to fruit smoothies
Slice and serve with cheese
Grill halves to serve with steaks
Cut up and add to pizza toppings
Combine with other fruits, such as apples, in compotes or cobblers
Easy Recipes for Red Tamarillo::
- layer on a serving tray:
- 3" squares of romaine lettuce
- 1 slice peeled tamarillo
- 1 slice fresh mozzarella cheese
- chopped fresh basil
- salt & pepper to taste
- olive oil or other dressing such as balsamic vinegar
POACHED IN RED WINE:
- peel two tamarillos per person, and slice once lengthwise (suggest doing at least 4)
- 1T sugar per tamarillo
- 1 T red wine per tamarillo
- place the tamarillos, cut side up, in an oven safe dish. Pour the wine over them and sprinkle with the sugar. Bake 15 to 20 minutes at 350 degrees F.
- remove from oven and turn the fruits over for a few minutes to soak in the sauce
- serve warm or cooled with whipped cream. Spoon remaining liquid over the top.
More Recipes for Red Tamarillo:
- peel, de-seed and chop 2.5 pounds of red tamarillos
- place in a pan with 2.5 c sugar
- bring to a boil and boil gently until the pulp is reduced to a smooth sauce
- add lemon juice to taste
- place a small amount on a cold plate in the refrigerator- if a skin forms treat as any jam or jelly and jar
- if the skin does not form, boil a few more minutes and try again.
Red Tamarillo Recipes I Have Not Tried:
Tamarillo Meringue Pie
Poached Tamarillo with Vanilla Bean Cream Pots