History & Description:
Tamarillos are available in red or gold. The red tamarillos are often called “black” and are the most popular variety available in the produce stores. Red tamarillos have a very smooth, inedible skin. They are shaped like baby eggplants and grow in clusters of three or more. They have an apricot-like luscious flesh with tiny black seeds. This variety is great for cooking. The gold coloured tamarillos are encased in a smooth golden-yellow skin which is also inedible and like the red variety; they come in clusters of three or more. They are shaped like eggs and they are sweet tasting. Gold tamarillos are preferred over the red variety for making preserves.
A good source of vitamin A and vitamin C, tamarillos are low in calories. One-half cup contains about 50 calories. Eating five daily servings of fruits and vegetables lowers the chances of cancer. A recent study found eating nine or ten daily servings of fruits and vegetables, combined with three daily servings of low-fat dairy products, effectively lowered blood pressure. Can be eaten raw or cooked: jams, relishes, sweet and sour sauces, in salads.
Choosing & Storing:
Ripen tamarillos at room temperature. Keep them out of direct sunlight until they yield slightly to pressure and are fragrant. Refrigerate ripe fruit in a plastic bag up to a week. Look for tamarillos that are plump and heavy for their size with shiny, smooth skin. Avoid ones that have soft spots or wrinkling.
Tips for Preparing:
If you are planning to use tamarillos in your cooking, they will require peeling because they have a bitter skin which is high in tannins. You can use a sharp peeling knife, a vegetable peeler or you can immerse the tamarillos in boiling water about two minutes; plunge into ice water and then pierce the skin and it will slip off. Tamarillos are versatile and they can be served as a fruit or a vegetable with their tart tomato flavour. Try marinating tamarillo slices in your favourite dressing and then add them to salads. Soak slices in honey a few seconds; serve on pudding, yogurt or ice cream. Serve with whipped cream or use tamarillos as condiments with spicy curries and meat. Raw or cooked tamarillos yield a delicious jam, relish and sweet and sour sauces.