This week the veggie spotlight is on the tree tomato. The tree tomato, or tamarrilo, is a subtropical small tree or shrub native to the Peruvian Andes that produces an egg-shaped edible fruit that is sweet and tangy. Like the common tomatoes in your spaghetti sauce, the tree tomato is also a member of the nightshade family.

Tree tomato in the commercial garden.

Tree tomato in the commercial garden.

Tree tomatoes grow quickly, and can produce fruit as early as 18 months after planting. The fruit is high in potassium, iron, and Vitamins A, C, E and B6. Tree tomatoes can be eaten raw or cooked into chutneys, jams, and sauces. Unlike common tomatoes, tree tomatoes have a very tough, bitter skin that should be removed when eating.


Inside of a tree tomato.

Recipe for Indian spiced tree tomato chutney

1 kg tree tomatoes
2 onions
2 Granny Smith apples
1 Tbs oil
1 x 3 cm piece of ginger
1 Tbs yellow mustard seeds
2 Tsp cumin seed
2 Tsp coriander seed
1 Tbs dried fenugreek leaves [ kasoori methi, available from Indian spice stores] 2 tsp chilli powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup cider vinegar

1 Halve the tree tomatoes and scoop the flesh into a bowl. Finely dice the onions and add. Core and dice the apples, then add.

2 In a large saucepan or preserving pan, add the oil and heat. Peel and finely chop or grate the ginger. Add to the oil with the mustard seeds and stir.

The seeds will begin to pop, then turn down the heat and add the cumin, coriander, fenugreek and chilli. Stir well then add the sugar, vinegar and the previously prepared tamarillos, onions and apples.

3 Stir all the ingredients together, bring to a boil stirring regularly and cook for 1 hour or until thick and pulpy. Spoon into hot, sterilised jars and seal. This chutney will keep for at least 6 months.

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