Tamarillo, another ingredient in the patriated Kiwi fruit salad

Our eastern neighbours - them across the ditch - borrowed and renamed the gooseberry from China (as distinct from the gooseberry from Europe and bits of Africa and Asia) as the Kiwi Fruit. As I explained recently, our New Zealand friends (mis)appropriated Yam (Oca) from South America.

As for New Zealand Cranberries, well they haven't really caught on anywhere. Also known as the Chilean Guava or, in Australia's attempt to outkiwi the Kiwis, the Tazziberry, Ugni molinae comes from South America.

The Tamarillo I really thought was an authentic Andean fruit, with an authentically Spanish name. Sadly not. From the mountainsides of the Andes it spread throughout much of South America and then to Europe before it made its way across to New Zealand. Back then it was called the Tree Tomato (in Spanish, Tomate de ├írbol).

According to Lost Crops of the Incas it is a home garden crop in all but New Zealand, although ten years ago it made its way into commercial cultivation in Australia. And it was in New Zealand where the name Tamarillo was invented during a naming competition in 1967. It takes 'amarillo' from the Spanish word for yellow (fruit skins are yellow, red or purple) and 't' from...well, presumably tree and tomato.

Apparently the fruit became popular in New Zealand during World War II, when bananas and oranges were in short supply. To be fair, the Kiwis have put some effort into breeding and of course marketing. Until the 1960s more land was devoted to producing Tamarillos than Kiwifruits.

I like the Tamarillo. Solanum betaceum is in the same family (Solanaceae) as the tomato and the fruit not only looks similar inside, they have a creamy tomato flavour but with a tropical tang. It's reputedly high in fibre with lots of good vitamins and metals. And it's such a pretty fruit, sitting here on the kitchen bench you are now used to.

In subtropical Australia it escapes occasionally from cultivation, as this picture from the Eurobodalla Shire Council site shows. Generally though, it's confined to home gardens and few farms up north.

Back in the Andes, they now more commonly eat Tamarillos than Tree Tomatoes. Marketing is something our Kiwi cousins do well.


Nice exotic fruit combos. I loved it. I'm gonna have to try that.