Tamarillos range in colour from yellow to orange, red and even purple. Yellow varieties have a sweeter flavour and are sometimes compared to a mango or apricot. The darker, red varieties are more commonly available and have a more savoury, tart flavour. The most common variety sold in the Canadian market is red. This is ready to eat when it’s dark red, the darker the better.
Tamarillo’s are ripe when they are soft. Leave them at room temperature to ripen. When ripe, keep refrigerated and consume within two to three days.
The skin is thin like an apple but incredibly bitter and therefore must be removed before eating. To eat the fruit raw, wash, then cut in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon or peel it like an apple. Take care to avoid the flesh immediately touching the skin as this is also very bitter.
If you plan to cook the tamarillo, peel the skin as you would a peach. With a small knife, score an “x” on the bottom, then place in boiling water for 30 seconds and transfer to an ice bath (to stop the cooking process). Their skins should slip off easily. After peeling, immediately return them to the ice bath to prevent discoloration.
They freeze well. Remove the skins and freeze them whole or freeze them in pureed form. Transfer your puree to an ice cube tray and place in freezer. Once frozen, transfer the cubes to a freezer-safe airtight container or plastic bag to have on hand to add to recipes later. Use frozen puree within six months.
Tamarillos are very versatile. They are often eaten raw on their own but some prefer to scoop out the flesh and spread it on toast! Others cut them up and incorporate them into a sauce, dip, compote, chutney, curry or even as an addition to salads. The savoury red variety go well with chili, paprika and jalapeno, onion and garlic, tomatoes, peppers, apples, other tropical fruits, leafy greens, avocado, mild cheeses like brie and cottage cheese, honey, pine nuts and balsamic vinegar. If you wish to eat a red tamarillo in a sweeter application, blend it with sweet tropical fruits like mango.