During our last trip to Indonesia, we came across a fruit that looked like tomato in the shape of an egg. I spent a bit of time talking to the locals about it and managed to get the right name in order to do further research.
The tomato which looks like a fruit that could be related to the potato, eggplant and capsicum pepper is called Tamarillo and is native to South America and it is listed among one of the lost foods of the Incas. Believe it or not New Zealand is the number one country growing tamarillo for global export/consumption. Tamarillos were introduced to New Zealand through Asia in the late 1800’s as they were very popular across subtropical regions such as Rwanda, Darjeeling, Nepal, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Indonesia, Philippines and Malaysia to name a few.
The tomato tree reaches its production peak after the fourth year of growth and it produces a tomato shaped-like fruit. The colour of the fruit varies from yellow and orange to red and almost purple. We found the red tamarillos to be more ‘vinegary sour’ while the orange and yellow are sweeter. When you cut it in half it looks like a hybrid of kiwi and tomato.
What I found very interesting about tamarillo fruit is that it takes 25 weeks to reach maturity after blooming from a very sweet and pungent flower. In a cluster of 20 flowers, there might only be 4 to 5 tamarillos that grow to be fully ripe.
Tamarillo has been eaten for centuries fresh by scooping the flesh from a halved fruit. It has also been widely used across several different forms such as compotes, chutneys, curries, additions to stews and purees.
Here is a recipe for Bloody Mary Lovers:
50 ml Bourbon
10 ml Lemon Juice
10 ml Worcester Sauce
3 Dashes of Celery Bitters
1 bar spoon of brown sugar
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of pink pepper
100 ml Tamarillo juice
- Combine all ingredients in tall glass and stir together.
- Add ice and stir once again.
- Garnish with tomato and celery.
Great served up with Sunday brunch or at BBQs.
Bartender’s note: “You can use tamarillo instead of tomatoes in various ways.”