The tamarillo is an egg-shaped edible fruit. It is also known as the tree tomato,tamamoro, and tomate de árbol in South America. Their color varies from yellow and orange to red and almost purple. Sometimes they have dark, longitudinal stripes. Red fruits are more acetous, yellow and orange fruits are sweeter. The flesh has a firm texture and contains more and larger seeds than a common tomato. The fruits are very high in vitamins and iron and low in calories (only about 40 calories per fruit).
Once commonly called the “tree tomato,” this fruit’s current name is actually made up: “tamarillo” was invented by New Zealand businessmen to prevent confusion with the actual tomato. Though they are decidedly different plants, the tomato and tamarillo do indeed share similar appearances, from their smooth, glossy skin to their bright colors.
Not much is known about the history of the tamarillo, though it is considered to have originated in the Andes, which stretches down Peru, Chile, Ecuador, and Bolivia. It has never been found in the wild, but has been introduced throughout and naturalized throughout South-America. Though it has been introduced to many subtropical environments throughout the world including Asia, the tamarillo has been treated as more of a garden plant and has been rarely grown on a large scale. One exception is New Zealand, where it was introduced in the 1800s. However, it wasn’t until World War II, when there was a fruit shortage that the country began producing the tamarillo as an important commercial crop. It has also gained recent commercial interest in Portugal, California, and Australia.
Carbohydrates: 3.8 g
Folates: 4 µg
Niacin: 0.271 mg
Pyridoxine: 0.198 mg
Thiamin: 0.043 mg
Vitamin A: 630 IU (189.17 µg)
Vitamin C: 29.8 mg - 50% of RDAVitamin E: 2.09 mg
Minerals:Calcium: 10.7 mg
Copper: 0.051 mg
Iron: 0.57 mg
Magnesium: 20.6 mg
Manganese: 114 µg
Phosphorus: 38.9 mg
Selenium: 0.1 µg
Zinc: 0.15 mg
The flesh of the tamarillo is tangy and variably sweet, with a bold and complex flavor, and may be compared to kiwifruit, tomato, guava, or passion fruit. The skin and the flesh near it have a bitter taste and are not usually eaten raw. The fruit is eaten by scooping the flesh from a halved fruit. When lightly sugared and cooled, the flesh is used for a breakfast dish. Some people in New Zealand cut the fruit in half, scoop out the pulpy flesh and spread it on toast at breakfast.
They can be made into compotes, or added to stews (e.g. Boeuf Bourguignon), hollandaise, chutneys and curries. Desserts using this fruit include bavarois and, combined with apples, a strudel.
In Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and parts of Indonesia (including Sumatra and Sulawesi), fresh tamarillos are frequently blended together with water and sugar to make a juice.
In Nepal it is grown in the hill parts/mountains. It is yellow in colour and used as Pickle or chutney and used as Tomato for Curry.
In Darjeeling and Sikkim in the Himalayan hills it is made into a sharp, usually pungent, dip or chutney to accompany meals and snacks. It is also popularly used as the acidic ingredient in some dishes.
In Ecuador, the tamarillo, known as tomate de árbol, is blended with chili peppers to make a hot sauce commonly consumed with local dishes of the Andean region. The sauce is simply referred to as "aji" and is present at every meal in Ecuador, whether it be in the capitol of Quito or along the banks of the Napo river.