As I’m scrolling through my inbox on my socials and actively participating in conversations with my friends, Eunice the beauty behind abiblegirl sends me a photo of the fruit she is having.
In excitement, I share with her how much I love the fruit too and would definitely write about it soon. Like kukumanga , this fruit was always in our garden and it still pops up occasionally, in between seasons.
The tamarillo or tree tomato is a small edible egg-shaped fruit produced by the tamarillo (mgogwe) plant or shrub. Tamarillos' color varies from yellow and orange to red and almost purple. The color of the fruit differs according to the phytochemicals present.
The reds offer more anthocyanin whilst the yellows are rich in carotenoids. They sometimes have dark - longitudinal stripes. Red tamarillos have a tangy- tart taste. I am yet to taste the orange variety and would love to as soon as possible: however, the yellow tamarillos are sweet to taste.
The tamarillo is native to South America, and is common in the South American Andes regions. Colombia is the largest producer of the fruit. Other regions where the fruit is cultivated include Kenya, South Africa, Burundi, Rwanda, Nepal, Hong Kong, China and among other subtropical areas around the world.
Apart from the Tamarillo, the fruit is also known by many different names in different regions: Some of the names are; Tree tomato, magogwe (Swahili) East Africa, tomate andino, tomate serrano, blood fruit, tomate de yuca, tomate de españa, sachatomate, berenjena and chilto in South America, terong Belanda (Dutch eggplant) in Indonesia, Itunda ria thakame (Gikuyu), kumomandra
Tamarillos are easy to grow in our kitchen gardens and with basic plant management techniques, you get an improved produce quality. They are planted using both seeds and cuttings.
The seeds produce tree plants whilst the cuttings produce shrub plants. Tamarillo plants have a shallow root system and thus should be protected from wind, and constantly irrigated to prevent drying.
Also known as matunda ya damu in Swahili, tamarillos are related to regular tomatoes, thus the name tree tomato. The taste however, isn’t similar. Tamarillos may be used in place of the regular tomato in savory sauces, but most people prefer not to because of the taste difference.
In culinary, the red variety tamarillos are used in pies, salads, desserts and preserves whilst the yellow and orange are best eaten fresh. I prefer to eat the fruit raw: Wash and dry the fruit. Cut it in half and use a spoon to scoop out the fleshy inside part leaving the skin intact.
The fruit is also a good addition in smoothies and is blended into a juice too. Soak the fruit in hot water or boil it for three minutes, peel off the skin, put in a blender with some water and blend into a flowy consistency. It may be served immediately or chilled and served later.
Tamarillos have various vitamins, minerals (iron, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous), antioxidants (phenolic, anthocyanin, carotenoids, flavonoids) and other minerals that can offer excellent health benefits. It is rich in vitamin A, C, B6, and E.
Tamarillos health benefits are:
- Reduces cholesterol thus preventing heart disease
- It helps in the treatment of colds, sore throat and other respiratory disorders.
- It has dietary fiber that helps in relieving constipation
- Helps in maintaining healthy skin
- Increases immunity
- Helps with low blood pressure.
Click here for some easy recipes that you’d try out in your kitchen.