We have a number of tamarillo trees in our farm. The tamarillo not be confused with the tomatillo (even my spellcheck wanted to correct that) is an egg shaped fruit native to South America. They grow really well in our Hawai’i climate, and often sprout up on their own after a fruit is left to rot on the ground.
Over the years, I’ve found people either really like the tamarillo or HATE it … no in between. It’s difficult to describe in taste, kind of a fruity tomato, way sweeter, almost tart like a lilikoi. Confused? It’s hard to describe. When I commented people hate it, they don’t like it raw. When it’s cooked in dishes or prepared with other ingredients, most do end up liking it after all.
We have three varieties currently growing. We bought them at local markets, and don’t know the specific variety, but each look slightly different. One larger and more round than egg shaped, and one slightly more red than orange. They have slightly different tastes, some a little sweeter than others. Currently only two of the varieties are fruiting.
Tamarillo is a versatile fruit. It can be eaten raw or cooked. They’re used in baking, and to make sauces, chutneys, jellies, and drinks. They’re not large, so depending on what you’re making with it, you may need quite a few. They grow in bunches on the tree. The skin is hard and waxy and is not eaten.
When we’re down in the farm, we’ll often snip the end off and squeeze the fruit into our mouth. It’s filled with seeds, but they’re small and edible. I have had them grilled with a slice of goat cheese on top. The tart taste of the fruit with the cheese is a really nice combination. I’ve also made a tamarillo jelly as well. I juice them first and then make the jelly. I have made a jam out of them, but found the seeds get really hard, and I didn’t like the consistency. The jelly tastes a bit cherry like, and I have used it to baste meat dishes. There are a lot of chutney recipes on line that utilize the whole fruit seeds included, so I’ll be trying that soon.
We’re just starting the season, and will soon have a lot of fruit to use. To take full advantage of all the fruit, it’s best to score the outside of the fruit and then blanch them in boiling water for about a minute. Remove the fruit from the water to cool, and peel the skin. You can also cut them in half and scoop the fruit out as well. In their native South America, they’re often sprinkled with sugar and eaten raw. I like them plain, and don’t think they need any sugar at all.
I found a great recipe on line for pan fried salmon with a tamarillo salsa. We eat salmon a lot, so I’m excited to try this recipe. See here:
Tamarillos are a nice addition to any farm. They’re easy to grown and bear a lot of fruit. They do not do well in climates that freeze, but if you’re in a warmer, sunnier area, you should consider adding it to your garden.
Other happenings around the farm …
Hurricane Lane brought a lot of rain, A LOT. Estimates in our area were 29 inches. We were fortunate in that it was just rain, no wind. Over the years we’ve had some problem areas when we get heavy rains, so we’ve created a trench on the side of the yard to divert some of the water. That, plus the use of strategically placed sand bags did the trick. This was definitely the most rain we’ve ever had at our home. And it rained for days. The roads to my job in Hilo were blocked by landslides. As I work for the County our offices were closed, so I just hunkered down at home. We only lost power once it was for a very short period of time. Hilo and the South part of our Island suffered a lot of flooding. So there was definitely damage so some parts of the Island, we, however, were very fortunate. We didn’t get very much done on the farm, due to all the rain.
Coffee … the cherries are getting ripe already! We picked about 10 gallons again today. It was HOT out there and it was overcast. Dragonfruit is starting to ripen as well. We’ve got some in the dry house now along with pineapple and are making fruit leathers. It’s been a busy and exhausting 3 day weekend getting all the things we didn’t get done last week, done this week. No rest for the weary, back to work tomorrow.