Tamarillo

Tamarillo

Synonym:
Tree Tomato
Plural:
Tamarillos, Tree Tomatoes
Family:
Solanaceae – Nightshade family
Species:
Cyphomandra betacea

Origin

We are not informed about the wild form and, therefore, do not know exactly which region of South America the Tamarillo comes from. As the trees best prosper in middl and high climates, it has been suggested that they come from the Andes, which spreads from Venezuela in the north to Argentina in the south. The fruit was named Tamarillo in the sixties by New Zealander breeders, presumably to distinguish them between the normal tomato, with which — in taste as well — is only remotely related.

Plant

The evergreen tree is strongly branched out like a shrub, grows up to 5 m high and begins to produce fruit in the second year. It is 12 to 15 cm in size with pink blossoms, which stand together in clusters and develop on long stems into red berries.

Cultivation

Today, the tomato trees are domestic everywhere in the tropics and subtropics.

Importations

They are imported all year round from Brazil, Kenya, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. New Zealand exports from April to October while South Africa delivers from October to January.

Fruit

Edible:
The whole fruit.
Odour and flavour:
They can taste slightly bitter, like a peppered tomato.
Size and shape:
Similar to a hen’s egg, up to 9 cm in length.
Skin:
It is thin and flat, like a tomato and coloured scarlet to carroty or respectively yellow to yellowish-red.
Pulp:
It is orange to yellow, harshly sweet to sour, juicy and firm, like a tomatoes and contains soft and slightly bitter cores.
Ripeness:
The fruits become slightly wrinkly and feel like full-ripe tomatoes.
Overripe fruits:
They become unpleasantly soft and mushy.
Unripe fruits:
Firm; they taste unpleasant and quite bitter.

Usage

They may be eaten raw, added to cheese and ham as well as sweet salads. They can also be mashed for dip or drink, stewed for compote or boiled down for jam.

Storage

Ripe fruits last for about 2 days at room temperature.