Name Variations Edit

  • tree tomato
  • tomate de árbol

About tamarillo Edit

The tamarillo is egg-shaped and is pointed at both ends with a green stem. The skin is tough and bitter and may be red, purple, amber, or golden yellow in color. The outer layer of apricot-colored flesh is slightly firm and the inside is filled with dark edible seeds that are slightly harder than those of a tomato. The flesh is tangy and tart, but flavorful. Tamarillos are native to South America, but most tamarillos sold in the United States are imported from New Zealand. This fruit is popular in South and Central America, the Caribbean, parts of Asia, and Australia. It is also commonly called a tree tomato.

The Tamarillo or Tree Tomato (Cyphomandra betacea) belongs to the flowering plant family Solanaceae. It grows as a small tree or shrub, bearing edible egg-shaped fruit with a thin skin and a soft flesh (when ripe), with dark-coloured seeds occupying about one third of the interior. The fruit closely resembles a tomato, hence its name.

The fruit are between 2 and 8 cm in length. They are held on the tree in clusters as are many other clustered fruit, such as cherries. The trees are grown from cuttings and are very frost-tender when young. They are shallow-rooted and respond to deep mulching and abundant water. The tree can grow to a little more than 6 metres but it is subject to wind damage and needs shelter. It will fruit from two years and a single mature tree in good soil will carry more fruit than a normal family can eat for about 3 months. When the tree is about 1 to 1.5 metres in height it is advisable to cut the roots on one side and lean the tree to the (other) direction of the midday sun at about 30 to 45 degrees. This allows fruiting branches to grow from all along the trunk rather than just at the top.

The tamarillo is native to the Andes of Peru and, possibly, Chile, Ecuador and Bolivia. It is cultivated in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Kenya, the U.S. and Venezuela. It is grown as a commercial crop for international export in New Zealand.

Selection Edit

Select fruit that is firm, unblemished and is heavy for its size. When ripe, tamarillos should be fragrant and should yield slightly to gentle pressure. Tamarillos are available from May to October in specialty stores and some supermarkets. They can occasionally be found out of season.

Storage Edit

Tamarillos may be ripened at room temperature, then stored in the refrigerator or eaten once they are ripe. They last up to ten days in the refrigerator if wrapped in a plastic. Tamarillos may also be frozen if they are peeled and wrapped individually.

Preparation Edit

Tamarillos should be peeled before eating or cooking. Blanching in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes is often the easiest way to remove the skin if the fruit is not ripe. They are often eaten raw, when ripe. Dip in frozen orange juice concentrate to sweeten the fruit and add to fruit or vegetable salads. Tamarilos are also often made into jams, chutneys and relishes.

Tamarillo Recipes Edit

Source Edit

  • Exotic Winter Fruit from Fruit's and Veggies Matter's Fruit of the Month by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, public domain government resource—original source of article

See also Edit

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