Don’t be fooled by the fact that these small, orange-red, oval-shaped fruits look like tomatoes. Despite being named a tomato tree, tamarillos are unique. Originally found in Latin and Central America, this fruit has become a popular ingredient in parts of India, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, where it was dubbed “tamarillo.” Since production is low, it’s hard to find, especially fresh. Chefs and home cooks take to the citric sweet and tart flavor, using tamarillo in all sorts of dishes, from dessert to condiments to main courses.
It also called a tree tomato, is an egg-shaped fruit that grows in South and Central America. It can be bright red or golden. Tamarillos are grown for sale in South and Central America, Australia, Africa, and Asia. Most of the fruit grown in the United States comes from California.
The tamarillo contains antioxidants and vitamins A, B6, C, and E. It also has a lot of fiber. Even though the tamarillo’s skin is bitter, the fruit inside is juicy and tasty. You can snack on the tamarillo or use the colorful fruit in many different ways.
What is Tamarillo?
The tamarillo is a small fruit about the size of a duck egg. It comes from the nightshade family and grows on trees in warm places. It comes from South America, and Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile, and Argentina were the first places to grow it. Now, people in Africa, India, Nepal, China, Australia, the US, New Zealand, and Hong Kong like this fruit. New Zealand got the tamarillo into the mainstream fruit market.
These early fruits were usually yellow or purple. The fruit has small, soft, and edible seeds, like those in a tomato. It can be eaten fresh, but most people don’t eat the peel. Tamarillo is used to make chutney, sauces, a topping for desserts, juices, baked goods, and pickled foods. The price depends on where you live. If you live in an area where tamarillos don’t grow, they can be hard to find and cost more than other fruits.
How to Use Tamarillo?
A tamarillo tastes sweeter and tangier than a tomato but has the same texture. Unlike a tomato, the skin of a tamarillo is bitter and should be removed before eating. To do this, you can boil the fruit for a short time first. Cut the tamarillo in half and use a spoon to scoop out the flesh to eat the fruit raw. Remember that a raw tamarillo can be sour, so when it is eaten this way, it is often sprinkled with sugar, like a grapefruit.
The meat of the tamarillo can be used in smoothies, made into chutney, refined into hot sauce, or cooked down into a topping for egg dishes, roast chicken, or pasta. Add tamarillo to curry, bake it into muffins, or sprinkle it on porridge for breakfast. Think of a tamarillo as the dessert version of tomato. You can use it anywhere you would use sour, sweet, and a little savoury fruit.
- Wash the tamarillo under cool water.
- Cut the tamarillo in half with a paring knife, cutting the fruit crosswise.
- Add sugar before eating it with a spoon. It would be a bad idea to consume the peel because of how bitter it is.
Step 1 Rinse the tamarillo. Place the clean tamarillo in a heat-proof glass or ceramic bowl.
Step 2 Pour boiling water over the tamarillo. Use enough boiling water to cover the fruit.
Step 3 Let the tamarillo soak for 3 to 4 minutes in hot water. To cool the tamarillo, pour the hot water and add new water.
Step 4 Grab some peel with the tip of a paring knife. Slide the fruit’s skin off.
- Things You’ll Need
- Paring knife
- Heat-proof glass or ceramic bowl
- You can cut a raw tamarillo into slices and eat them with cheese or crackers or add them to a salad.
- Mix raw tamarillo with chopped avocado and chopped chili pepper for an easy salsa, or chop tamarillo and mix it with chopped apple, onion, vinegar, and spices for a tasty chutney.
- To make a fruit smoothie, chop up a peeled tamarillo with yogurt, honey, milk, ice cream, and a banana.
- Many sweets and main dishes contain peeled tamarillo.
- Mix a peeled and chopped tamarillo with applesauce, then put the mixture on ice cream.
- Peeled and chopped tamarillos can be added to bread or muffins, and peeled tamarillos can be used in pork dishes. You can also use a chopped tamarillo to top a pizza.
A tamarillo tastes like a sweet tomato with a sharp tang, a citric bite, and a bitter undertone. The texture is like a tomato; you eat the small seeds. The color of the fruit can affect how it tastes. The smaller, amber-colored tamarillos have the sweetest flesh and are best in desserts. If the tamarillo is red, it will have a more citric flavor and be savory. This makes it a great addition to the main dish or a savory sauce. Lastly, bigger gold tamarillos aren’t as sweet as the amber ones but have more sugar than the red ones.
It can be cooked like a tomato. It can be a dessert star if cooked properly. Try these recipes with or without tamarillo.
- Instant Pot Frittata
- Eastern Indian Tomato Chutney
- Strawberry Smoothie (swap the strawberries for amber tamarillos)
Where to Buy Tamarillo?
Despite its popularity, fresh tamarillo is hard to find. Most Latino grocery stores or markets that sell Latin American food will have bags of frozen tamarillo pulp that can be used in smoothies or other dishes. Check if any nearby orchards grow tamarillos and buy directly from them. If not, you can buy it fruit and seeds online and send them to you.
Look for it that is firm but not too hard, has a bright color, and doesn’t have any spots on it. Look for the same signs of ripeness and quality as you would with fresh tomatoes.
Most tamarillo should keep frozen until usage. If the fruit is still fresh, put it on the counter out of direct sunlight, like you would a tomato. You can also keep whole tamarillos in the refrigerator to keep them fresh, but they won’t last longer than a couple of days. Once cut, put fresh tamarillos in a container with a lid and store them in the fridge for up to three days. You can eat them raw or cook them. Tamarillo can be refrigerated for four days if sealed.
Amber, red, and gold are the three main types of tamarillo. The tamarillos with an amber color are the sweetest and smallest ones. Gold comes next on the scale of sweetness. It is brighter and has a bit more tartness than silver, and it’s the biggest of the three. The red tamarillos look the most like tomatoes and taste sour and sweet simultaneously.
What are the Benefits of Tamarillo?
Tamarillo is full of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and pro-vitamin A. It is a good source of vitamins like niacin, thiamine, and riboflavin, which are part of the B-complex group. Tamarillo has carbs, protein, fat, calcium, potassium, and sodium. Minerals like phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, copper, zinc, and iron are also in it. It has a lot of good things in it that help the immune system.
2. Aids Weight Loss
This fruit can help you lose weight because it is low in calories and has a lot of fibre. When tamarillo juice is eaten raw, with herbs on top or in a salad, it helps the body eliminate toxins. It helps burn fat because it is acidic. A study on rats found that tamarillo may help control weight and stop people from becoming obese. Also, exercising can speed up the process of losing weight.
3. Good for Skin
Tamarillo’s vitamins A, C, and E, will keep your skin healthy and glowing. Anthocyanin, phenols, and flavonoids protect the skin from pollution and oxidative stress. Tamarillo also helps in anti-aging. Like normal tomatoes, these can treat skin disorders at home.
4. Helps Control Diabetes
Together, the low glycemic index and chlorogenic acid in tamarillo help lower blood sugar levels in people with type II diabetes. Tamarillo contains great antioxidants that can reduce oxidative stress in organs like the liver and pancreas. If you ate the pulp of tamarillo or drank its juice on an empty stomach, the results would be better.
Reference: The Potential Health Benefits of the Subtropical Fruits Kiwifruit, Feijoa and Tamarillo
5. Soothes Inflamed Tonsils
Tamarillo can help make the lymph nodes less swollen. In Ecuador, people who had sore tonsils would heat tamarillo leaves and wrap them around their necks. Taking in heat through the leaves helps ease the pain. Columbians cook the fruit in embers to make a poultice that they put on wounds to heal them.
6. Lowers High Blood Pressure
You can lower your high blood pressure by eating more tamarillo. This fruit helps maintain blood pressure because it contains minerals and potassium.
7. Good for Heart
Tamarillo’s high potassium content reduces the heart-damaging effects of sodium. It gives the heart and blood vessels the magnesium they need to work well. Also, tamarillo has a lot of fiber, which helps keep the body from taking in too much bad cholesterol. Antioxidant properties prevent oxidative stress, which can induce strokes.
8. Good for the Eyes
Fruits like tamarindo also improve vision. Anthocyanins, which are found in tamarillo, help your eyes see better. According to a study, in vitro, anthocyanins cause rhodopsin to grow back and smooth muscles to relax. Anthocyanins in ocular tissues improved blood flow.
9. May Reduce the Risk of Cancer
Anthocyanins, found in the darker part of the tamarillo, are powerful antioxidants that help fight cancer-causing free radicals. Killing bacteria and reducing inflammation prevents cancer spread.
Numerous savoury dishes feature the sweet-sour tamarillo. It contains healthy vitamins and minerals. It benefits range from promoting heart health to soothing inflamed tonsils. In addition, it may help manage diabetes and weight loss. It reduces fine wrinkles and delays ageing. It may increase immunity and lower cancer risk. However, overconsumption may cause difficulties.