I have found that tamarilloes are happy to be ignored (I just feed them a couple of times a year) as long as you don’t let them dry out or get completely waterlogged – mulch, mulch and more mulch. They need sun for at least part of the day, but will take some semi-shade. Because they are quite shallow rooted they are a fantastic plant to incorporate in a food hedge as they don’t over compete with the plants around them for water and nutrients – just remember the mulching. In late summer they produce a crop of ovoid fruit, either orange, purple or a yellowy colour. The skin is never eaten as it is very bitter, and flesh scooped out to be eaten fresh or cooked. Grazing children love to just bite the top off and squeeze the tangy, tart flesh straight into the mouth. Oh – did I mention their amazing nutritional properties – here goes?:
- TAMARILLO and NUTRITION: The tree tomato is an excellent source of antioxidants because it contains a type of flavonoid known as anthocyanins. Furthermore, and more importantly it contains the carotenoids lycopene and beta carotene (vitamin A).
- Lycopene’s principle health benefit is to neutralize or inhibit oxygen derived free radicals. Free radicals are implicated in causing chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. Lycopene, along with the other carotenoids, beta-corotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, help protect and repair cells against DNA damage, thereby helping to prevent premature aging. However, of the four carotenoids, lycopene has by far the most antioxidant activity.
- The group of flavonoids called anthocyanins are found in red or purple plant color pigments, known as phytochemicals. These flavonoids are antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and they help neutralize free radicals. They can also provide health benefits against diabetes, nuerological diseases, cancer and aging.
- Tamarillo is also a good source of vitamin C, as well as calcium, potassium, phosphorus, sodium and magnesium.
Jam: They make a fabulous jam – either by itself or with other fruit – that sets really well because they are so high in pectin. I made some the other day with mango, guavas and peaches – really yum! Chutneys: I have come across various recipes for this. As soon as all the crop is in (and we stop eating them!) I will try some and post up the recipe. NOTE: Click here for the link to a scrum my Tamarillo Yeast Cake recipe – an extremely versatile tea cake that I make all the time. Somebody liked it!