In case you haven’t seen via facebook, Carly (that’s me) is currently in Perth, Australia, visiting friends, looking after babies and hanging out in their suburban permaculture food forest, Thyme Lords Cottage. My friends are aiming to become as close as possible to self sufficient one day. I am loving spending time with their 2 year old and newborn, as well as seeing what they are growing and cooking!!
The mum in this beautiful little family developed allergies around 15 years ago – to wheat, soy and tomatoes. As you can imagine, this has made cooking a little difficult, buying anything processed is next to impossible and of course, she really misses the flavours, the diversity of food options, and the rich tomato-based sauces, especially spaghetti bolognese! The great thing is that she’s creative and has developed a tasty alternative that we made up this week and I want to share with you today. This sauce has a wonderful flavour that is slightly sour from the citric and malic acid in the tamarillos and sweet from the red capsicums… check out the recipe here (click for a bigger size)… we used 25 tamarillos, 25 onions and 25 capsicums for our batch 🙂
Normally, the fruit is eaten by scooping the flesh from a halved fruit. When lightly sugared and cooled, it makes a refreshing breakfast dish. They give a unique flavour when made into a compote, or added to stews (e.g. Boeuf Bourguignon), hollandaise, chutneys, and curries. They are also tasty and decorative in, for example, radicchio salads. Appetizing desserts using this fruit include bavarois and combined with apples in a strudel. In Colombia, Ecuador and Sumatra, fresh tamarillos are frequently blended together with water and sugar to make a juice. It is also available as a commercially pasteurized purée. The flesh of the tamarillo is tangy and mildly sweet, and may be compared to kiwifruit, tomato, or passion fruit. The skin and the flesh near it have an unpleasant bitter taste, and usually aren’t eaten raw.
This sauce is pretty healthy too. Tamarillos are one of the very low calorie fruits – 100 g of fresh fruit contain just 31 calories and they contain slightly more calories, fat, and protein than tomatoes. (100 g tomato has 18 calories). Nevertheless, they have good amounts of health benefiting plant nutrients such as dietary fiber, minerals, anti-oxidants, and vitamins. They are high in antioxidants and especially the chlorogenic acid helps lower blood sugar levels in type-II diabetes mellitus. We used the red variety but apparently the yellow and gold varieties contain more vitamin A and carotenes than red varieties and the yellow tamarillos are also a good source of carotenes, and xanthins which are known to possess antioxidant properties and, together with vitamin A, are essential for visual health. Further, vitamin A is also required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin. Consumption of natural vegetables and fruits rich in flavonoids helps to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers. Tamarillos are also a good source of B-complex vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, and pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), which help as co-factors for enzymes in metabolism as well as in various synthetic functions inside the body. Lastly, tamarillos are a very good source of potassium. 100 g fresh fruit has 321 mg or 7% of this mineral. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure; thus, counters the bad influences of sodium. In addition, the fruit contains a small amount of minerals such as copper, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and iron.
Since we separated the juice from the seeds whilst making the sauce, we saved the seeds for planting too.
Tamarillo (Solanum betaceum; syn. Cyphomandra betacea; also called tree tomato) is a small tree or shrub in the flowering plant family Solanaceae (along with tomatoes, eggplant, chilli peppers, etc.). They are thought to originate in the semitropical high altitude Andes forests of Brazil and Peru and are also native to Chile, Ecuador, Colombia and Bolivia. They are erect, branching, shrubby, fast growing evergreens. They have large, heart-shaped leaves, 15-20 cm long. The flowers are small, pale pink and fragrant. The trees are generally grown from cuttings (but my friends have had great success with growing seedlings) and are very frost-tender when young. It will bear fruit after two years and a single mature tree in good soil will carry more fruit than a normal family can eat for about 3 months. A well-nourished tree can produce up to 66 kilograms of fruit in a year. When the tree is about 1 to 1.5 meters in height it is advisable to cut the roots on one side and lean the tree to the other (direction of the midday sun at about 30 to 45 degrees). This allows fruiting branches to grow from all along the trunk rather than just at the top. Tamarillos need a rich, moist, well-drained soil. It will not tolerate waterlogging or drought and the roots are very shallow, so keep it well mulched. Commercially it is only suitable for frost-free subtropical and warm temperate areas, however the range for a home orchard is wider, as it survives light frost, by dropping affected leaves and shooting back in spring. They require protection from wind and frost.
So, whether you have tomato allergies, enjoy exotic fruits or wanted to learn a little about this great permaculture plant, I hope you got a little something out of this post… feel free to share your recipes with us too!