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Feasting Florida

Enjoying a sustainable, organic, lifestyle indulging in all Florida's Cuisines throughout the seasons




The tamarillo, (Cyphomandra belacea sendt), sometimes called Tree Tomato, is a relative to both the tomato and the potato. Originally from South America, now it is found in warm subtropical climates. Places that grow tamarillos include South and Central America, the Caribbean, Asia, and New Zealand.

Tamarillos grow on a small bush that produces large, green, heart shaped leaves. Approximately the same size and shape of a medium sized egg, the tamarillo can range in colors from red, purple, amber or yellow. Sometimes it is best to wear gloves since the red colored skin may come off on your fingers and stain. The skin is tough and bitter, and should be removed.

Flesh colors range from red, orange, yellow or cream. It is quite flavorful. The flesh has a texture similar to aspic. The tamarillo contains several seeds inside. They are nearly flat. The flesh around the seeds is tinted purple.

The tamarillo can be eaten fresh, or cooked. It can be prepared in both sweet and savory dishes. They have a sweet-tart taste. They are considered a fruit, but commonly used like a vegetable. Both sweet and savory dishes require the use of sugar, though, to help with the acidity. Commonly, tree tomatoes are used for jams and chutneys.

Tamarillos are in season from May through October. They ripen well at room temperature. Tamarillos contain both vitamins A and C.

Flavors that can be used with Tamarillos


bread crumbs








Tamarillo Species

Ecuadorian Orange

Fruit is medium orange in color, the size of a large hen's egg. Pulp is light orange, creamy in texture, and less acid than the Ruby Red. Excellent for eating out of hand and also suited for culinary purposes.


A superior cultivar originating in New Zealand. A very large, golden-yellow fruit with golden, highly flavored flesh. Has superb eating qualities.

Inca Gold

A yellow-fruit variety less acid than the red types. When cooked, the fruit is said to resemble the apricot in flavor.

Oratia Red

A large fruited red variety, oval to rounded in shape, with a sharp, acid flavor. Good quality for eating out of hand and excellent for jams and preserves.


Unusually, large fruit, usually over 3 ounces. Skin is bright red. Flesh golden-yellow. Flavor is sweet and exotic. Seeds are dark red. Ripen from December to April. Delicious eaten out of hand as is. Originated in San Rafael, California.

Ruby Red

Large, brilliant red fruit with dark red pulp that is tart and flavorful. Descent for eating out of hand, but very good for culinary use. If allowed to ripen for one to three weeks after picking, they will become less acid.

Solid Gold

Large, oval shaped fruit. Skin golden-orange in color. Pulp soft, less acidic in flavor than Oratia Red. Very good for eating out of hand, with acceptable culinary qualities.


Fruits are the size and shape of a large plum. Skin is yellowish orange. Flesh yellow, with a milder flavor than the red types. The yellow form is the oldest in cultivation in New Zealand.

Baked Tamarillo Treat Recipe

4 tamarillos

1/3 cup sugar

½ tsp. ground cinnamon

2 tbsp. brandy

4 tbsp. honey

Slice tamarillos in half and place cut side down in a baking dish. Pour a small amount of honey over each tamarillo half. Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over top.

Bake at 350ºF until tamarillo skins raise and can be pulled off. This should take no longer than 30 minutes.

Pull skins off and discard. Remove fruit from baking dish and mix the brandy with juices in the pan.

Stir together the juices and pour over fruit. Serve with whipped cream.

Serves 4

Tamarillo Sauce

6 red or yellow tamarillos

2 tbsp. orange juice

½ cup sugar

1 tsp. grated orange peel

Place the tamarillos in a bowl. Pour boiling water over them. Drain, then slip off the tamarillos skins and remove the stems. Chop the fruit. Combine it in a food processor container or blender with the orange juice, sugar, and orange peel. Cover and process until pureed. Refrigerate, covered, for up to one week.

Makes 2 ½ cups

Tamarillo Ratatouille

1 ½ cups chicken stock

1 small eggplant, peeled and diced

4 tamarillos, any variety, peeled, and diced

1 ½ cups sliced mushrooms

1 red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil

1 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano

salt and pepper to taste

2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

Combine the broth, eggplant, tamarillos, mushrooms, bell pepper, garlic, basil, and oregano in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Bring the mixture to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Season to taste. Serve topped with grated Parmesan cheese.

Makes about 4 cups, about 6 to 8 servings.

© 2012 Chef Jennifer M. Denlinger All rights reserved

Cite me: Denlinger, J. (2012, January 12). Tamarillo. Retrieved from:

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