Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Farmer's Market Exotic Fruits: Tamarillo

I have a lot of fun exotic fruit to share with you this week, gathered from the wonderful KCC Saturday Farmers Market. I love fruit and I love to try new things, so Saturday found me gathering up a bunch of interesting fruit in my shopping bag--some of my tried and true favorites but maybe not so familiar to everyone and a few others that are new to me. Some lend themselves to just being enjoyed as is and those I'll show you and tell you about; others I'll be cooking with.
The Tamarillo or Tree Tomato

My first fruit is the Tamarillo. I had actually never seen this fruit before, although I had heard the name. The tamarillo is called the tree tomato in certain parts of the world. Native to Central and South America, it went to Asia and then was brought to New Zealand in the 1800's. According to research, it was New Zealand (the Tree Tomato Promotions Council) that came up with the name Tamarillo in 1967 to differentiate it from your basic garden tomato and to make it seem much more exotic. The name combines a Maori word (tama--meaning "leadership") with a Spanish word (rillo--believed to come from amarillo meaning yellow). The tamarillo grows on a small tree or shrub in clusters and can be red or yellow in color. (These were grown on The Big Island).

The fruit is either cut in half and the flesh and seeds eaten or the stem end can be cut or bitten off and the flesh squeezed directly into your mouth. It has an interesting taste--a bit like a slightly sweeter green tomato. The skin and flesh right next to it are very bitter and should be avoided. One website recommended sprinkling the flesh and seeds with a little sugar to sweeten it and I tried that which changed the taste considerably making it less like a tomato and more like a kiwi.

If you look at this New Zealand website it appears that you can use tamarillos for everything from pizza topping to muffins to chutney but I didn't buy enough this week to do anything other than eat them. Are they my new favorite tropical fruit? Not so much, but they are interesting and they do kind of grow on you so I might be inspired to buy a few and cook with them for fun the next time I see them.


  1. interesting color, way to go for trying new things :)

  2. Oh, if I were a jealous woman, I'd be several shades of green over your access to such amaxing produce, on such a regular basis.

    There are farmer's markets here, and they can hold some surprises, it's rarely a joyous experience,'s only a summer thing, and oh yeah...I can't get to them!

    (darn car-less-ness)

  3. Never seen anything like it.
    You have some wild and crazy fruit down there. We have....apples. A few peaches and pears, etc. but you see my point.
    I am seriously missing out on the tropical fruits. Time to catch a plane.
    I'll be the one with the sign. :)

    ps, how cute is that spoon!

  4. So interesting, and I bet that it's delicious! I've said it before, but the Farmer's Market in Hawaii has got to be one step shy of heaven.

  5. Gorgeous! So happy to have found your blog. My parents live on Kona side of the Big Island so I'm excited to find some ideas of things to make (and try to find) when I visit.

  6. Hmm.. I have a feeling this is one of those things I'll never see around here. Always nice to read about things I've never had before.

  7. Kat--they are pretty aren't they?!

    Stephanie--I am glad you are not the jealous type!

    Natashya--I love the my little spoon too! ;-)

    Cathy--it is a great market--we are so lucky to have it.

    Joie de vivre--thanks for stopping by! Hope you get to visit your parents soon--they live in a great part of the Big Island--lots to see and do.

    Jude--hope you do get to try one--they are interesting.

  8. tamarillos were once a popular fruit in the 70s in NZ when they were considered exotic. we also called them tree tomato.
    i tried it once, but never really liked them; they weren't too popular when i left the country in the early 90s

  9. I've only used tamarillo once - interspersed with kiwis on an open faced tart with a vanilla creme patissiere. Not my favourite either!


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