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Friday, June 5, 2015




The tamarillo is a small tree or shrub in the flowering plant family Solanaceae (the nightshade family).  It is best known as the species that bears the tamarillo, an egg shaped edible fruit.  It is also known as the "tree tomato".  The fruits are egg shaped and about 4 - 10 centimeters long.  The color varies from yellow and orange to red and almost purple.  The red fruits are more acidic, and the yellow and orange fruits are sweeter.  The flesh has a firm texture and contains more and larger seeds than a common tomato.



Tamarillo fruit is eaten by scooping out the flesh from the halved fruit.  When lightly sugared and cooled, the flesh is used as a breakfast dish.  Some people scoop out the pulpy flesh and spread it on toast at breakfast. Tomarillos can be made into compotes, or added to stews, hollandaise, chutney, and curries.   Fruits harvested earlier in the season tend to be sweeter and less astringent.  The skin has a most unpleasant taste, and so, is not eaten. 


Tamarillo is native to the Andes of Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Columbia, and Bolivia.  It is still cultivated in gardens and small orchards for local production, and is one of the most popular fruits in these regions.   Other regions of cultivation  are the subtropical areas throughout the world including the U.S. in California..  Tamarillos are listed among the lost foods of the Incas.  The commercial production of tamarillos began on a small scale in the 1930's.  During WWII demand grew for tamarillos as the supply of other fruits high in vitamin C was restricted.

Health Benefits:

Tamarillos are very high is vitamins and iron, and low in calories.   They are low in fat, carbohydrates, and sodium.  They are high in potassium, and contain other trace elements important  for health  including copper and manganese.   Tamarillos are  a source of fiber and also a source of vitamins A, B6, and C.  They contain vitamin E, and thiamine.   Tamarillos are said to be helpful in controlling hypertension and diabetes.


Tamarillos are most frequently available from July until November.

Selecting and Storing:

Choose tamarillos with full coloration (red or gold) up to the stalk  with a slight loosening of the stalk. A slight softening of the fruit and a yellowing of the stalk are indication of ripeness.
Keep tamarillos at room temperature for a week or in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.  They can be easily frozen either whole (remove the skin first) or pureed.

Removing the Skin:

To remove the skin place the tamarillos in a bowl and cover with boiling water.  Leave for 3 - 4 minutes, then rinse with cold water.  Make a small cut in the skin with a knife and the skin will slip right off.

So..... Eat up!  Enjoy!  I'll show you how.  

How to Enjoy Tamarillos:

  •  Peeled fruit can be sliced and added to stews or soups
  • Serve slices with a sprinkling of sugar and a scoop of vanilla ice cream
  • Peeled fruit diced with diced onions, breadcrumbs, butter, and appropriate seasonings  may be used as a stuffing for roast lamb
  • Slices alone or with apples cooked into a pie
  • Packed into a preserving jar with water or sugar syrup and cooked for 55 minutes
  • Peeled fruits can be pureed in a blender or cooked, strained to remove the seeds, then packed in plastic containers and frozen.   

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