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Articles - A Healthy Diet:

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Tamarillo – tree tomato from the Andes

Tamarillos are not very well known in Europe, but they’re so tasty and interesting that it’s worth giving them a try.


You can enjoy them pure and plain – simply spoon out the fruit flesh, rather like eating a kiwi – or process them to juice, jam, sauces and chutneys. Tamarillos lend themselves to both sweet and savoury dishes, for example, they add flavour both in a chicken salad and in a fruit salad. A pinch of sugar decreases the slight bitter taste and emphasizes the sweet-sour aroma. The skin is inedible and needs to be removed by peeling or dipping them in boiling water and sliding the skin off. Tamarillos offer health benefits too – significant amounts of vitamin C (15 to 42 mg per 100 g), vitamin E, B6 and provitamin A as well as potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, dietary fibre, flavonoids and carotenoids.

Where do tamarillos come from?

The tamarillo (Cyphomandra betacea) originated in the Andes in South America where they grow in the tropical highlands at altitudes of between 1000 and 2500 m. Like ordinary tomatoes, they belong to the deadly nightshade family. Cut open, they even look like our familiar tomatoes, but they taste quite different. The fruits hang in clusters on long, thin stalks on the evergreen trees. They are generally harvested when they are fully ripe, but still firm. Ripe tamarillos have dark red skins, sometimes tinged with violet or yellow. The fruit flesh inside is firm around the outside becoming more jellylike towards the centre with a lot of edible seeds.

Buying and storing

Nowadays tamarillos are also cultivated in New Zealand, California, Kenya and in several countries in Southeast Asia as well as in South America. The name “tamarillo” actually came from New Zealanders deciding, 50 years ago, that a name more attractive than “tree tomato” would help their marketing campaigns. A lot of tamarillos on sale in Germany come from Columbia. Choose tamarillos that are firm but give slightly when pressed with a finger, ie, ones that are fully ripe. Stored in a plastic bag in your fridge, tamarillos will keep around a week.


Source: Heike Kreutz, www.aid.de