This wonderful sweet and tart fruit apparently originates from the western South American countries including Peru and Chile. People from Naga in Sri Lanka also claim that it comes from there, but as it's part of the nightshade family that originated in South America I'll put my bets on there.
As you can see it's aptly known as tree tomato. It grows into a shrub of about 1.5m tall and will fruit all year round in a warm climate. In New Zealand, it's known as tamarillo. A blend of the Spanish word 'Amarillo' for yellow and the Maori word 'tama' for leadership, tamarillo helps to distinguish it from it's more savory cousin, the tomato, yet it still has a similar sounding name.
Growing up in Gisborne on the East Coast of New Zealand, I got to try a lot of exotic types of fruit as it's got a warm, dry micro-climate to the East of the Raukumara ranges. Feijoa, jack-fruit, paw-paw and so many more. My two favourites were feijoa and tamarillo. Of the two tamarillo was harder to find as it wasn't grown commercially in a big way until the late 80s when they began to grow it for export. I was working for my friend's father in the kiwifruit orchards when we were asked to help with planting out the new tamarillo orchards. I remember the leaves were quite smelly as I had to put my head against them each time I planted one.
I've heard that you can get them here in Malaysia, but only in the highlands as it's a sub-tropical plant rather than a tropical plant. If I'd known that before I went to Cameron Highlands a few years back I'd have been more diligent in looking for a tamarillo plant - or at least the fruit. I miss them so much. I love their slightly sour tart flavour. You can put sugar on them of course and the yellow ones are supposed to be sweeter, but for me it also makes the taste blander.
|A link to recipes|
If you know of where I can get my hands on a plant. Please let me know.
Resources and Recipes
Berry Bounty: How to Grow Traditional & Unusual Berries
Seeds from Overseas