The scientific name of the Tamarillo include Solanum betaceum, Cyphomandra betacea and Cyphomandra hartwegi. Other names include Tree tomato, Terong belanda, Ookhamen and Marattakkali.
Tamarillo belong to the nightshade family, along with tomato, and eggplant. It is widely cultivated in many parts of the world including South America, Central America, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, Australia, New Zealand, Venezuela, Ecuador, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and California.
The taste of tree tomato has resemblance to tomatoes- citric acid, and sweet mix. The fruit is juicy and has smooth skin with egg-like shape. The seeds are a bit bitter, but edible. It has texture similar to tomatoes, but often less water and pulpier. Eating many raw tamarillos can be highly acidic, yellow tamarillos has mild flavor.
How to check for ripeness of Tamarillo/ Tree tomato?
It has reddish-brown to orange-red in color depending on the maturity. Dark stripes also appears in some cases. Unripe tamarillos are green and unyielding to the touch. When ripe, tamarillos remain firm but give slightly when pinched. The skin is glossy and velvety like a tomato’s when ready for consumption. Smell the fruits: Like tomatoes, the best tamarillos have a fragrant, spicy aroma. Overripe tamarillos lose their luster, appear wrinkled and disheveled, and taste overly sour and fermented.
Tree tomato nutrition value and facts
It is high in vitamin A, vital for boosting eyesight, maintaining skin health, and supporting ideal red blood cell levels.
It is rich in Vitamin C content assists the body with immunity, bone health, and wound repair.
A 100 gm of tamarillos has about 35 calories. It contain
Moisture: 86.2 g
Protein: 1.5 g
Fat: 0.2 g
Minerals: 1.2 g
Fiber: 4.2 g
Carbohydrates: 6.7 g
Calcium: 12 mg
Phosphorous: 46 mg
Iron: 1.0 mg
Carotene: 324 ug
Thiamine: 0.11 mg
Riboflavin: 0.06 mg
Niacin: 2.1 mg
Traditional folk remedies with tree tomato
In Ecuador, warmed leaves wrapped around the neck treat a sore throat. To treat inflamed tonsils.
In Colombia, it is used to make a poultice by cooking the fruit pulp in embers.
Jamaicans refer to tree tomatoes as “vegetable mercury” based on their belief of its curative properties to the liver.
Scientific proven evidence based health benefits and uses of tree tomato
A study concluded that C. betacea has a significant amount of phenolics, flavonoids, anthocyanin, and carotenoid which contribute to the antioxidant activity of the fruit extracts. It helps to fight against free radicals and oxidative stress. The acceptable amount of phytochemicals in the fruits showed that C. betacea is one of the richest sources of antioxidant phytonutrients and has anti-cholinesterase properties that can enhance human health. Carotenoids have been known to have protective effects against degenerative or cardiovascular disease and to have the ability to act as antioxidants.
A study has show that the proteins found in tree tomato fruit has an anti-mutagenic property, helps to reduce oxidative damage and inhibit formation of uric acid.
A study concluded that tree tomato are rich in anthocyanins, which helps to protect the body from diabetes, symptoms of aging, certain cancers, and neurological diseases.
A study has shown that the tomato tree fruit helps to reduce sensitivity to pain stimuli, which can be useful in many inflammatory painful diseases.
How to Open or Cut tamarillos?
Tamarillos require peeling before consumption. If the fruit is particularly small, cut in half and scoop out the flesh. The flesh of tamarillos retains its shape well, allowing for it to be cut into small slices or rings. It’s possible to heat tamarillos by baking or grilling as well. If desiring to remove the mildly bitter skin, blanch by dropping the whole fruits in boiling water for no more than 30 seconds. Let the fruits sit for five minutes—afterwards, the skin should come off with ease.
Note: do not cut tree tomatoes on a porous surface—like pomegranate, the fruit juice causes stains.
Leave unripe fruit at room temperature to ripe. Otherwise, place the fruits in a perforated container or bag and put in the refrigerator—they will keep up to two weeks. Chilling below 40 degrees will cause skin discoloration. Freeze tamarillos by peeling and storing whole, or scoop the flesh and place in a freezer bag. The fruit will keep until the following season.
Tree tomato recipe ideas and uses
Add raw tree tomato into your salad, smoothies or juice.
It can also be eaten with sugar to enhance the taste of the fruit.
Use fruit to make juices, jams, chutney, salsa, sauce, dips, jellies, desserts, and ice-cream toppings.
Saute, stew, bake or grill the fruits, and serve alongside tofu grilled and marinated in olive oil, basil, garlic, salt, and pepper.
Read about other interesting fruits