The Produce Bible includes tips on selecting, storing and preparing fruits and vegetables plus recipes like Belgian Endive with Olives, Anchovies, and Caperberries, Black Sticky Rice with Taro, and Poached Tamarillo with Vanilla Bean Cream Pots.
The most common, commercially available varieties of tamarillo, which are elegant, tapered globes about 3 inches long, are rich red or yellow skinned, with apricot-colored flesh. The numerous seeds, contained in the center of the fruit in a large, pulpy, gel-like core, are perfectly edible but the bitter thin skin is not. Tamarillos can be enjoyed raw, although they need to be very ripe as their flesh can be somewhat tart—the yellow-skinned varieties being less acidic than the red. The fruit is highly nutritious, yielding good quantities of vitamins A, B6, C, and E, and is also rich in iron and potassium.
Tamarillos are most effectively peeled by blanching in boiling water—prepared this way, they can then be poached whole. Using a small, sharp knife, make a tiny crisscross incision in the base of the fruit. Plunge the fruit (about six at a time; don't crowd the pan) into a saucepan of boiling water for 30 seconds, ..then transfer to a bowl of iced water to quickly cool. Drain them well; the skin should easily peel away.
Tamarillos make suburb jam, are wonderful stewed (perhaps with a few apples or chopped dates and bananas, to cut the acid) and then baked under a crisp crumble topping, or served sweetened and warmed with good vanilla ice cream or custard on the side. The whole, peeled fruit, still with their stems intact, make for a dramatic presentation when poached whole in a lightly spiced sugar syrup.
Selection and Storage
Tamarillos will ripen at room temperature—when fully ripe they should feel slightly soft and rather heavy for their size. Select fruit that has tight skin with no blemishes or wrinkles.
Once fully ripe, tamarillos should be stored in the refrigerator, where they will keep for about 10 days. When cutting a tamarillo, take care that the juice doesn't splash your clothing as it will stain.
The tamarillo originates from the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes and is a relative of the potato, eggplant, and pepper. We have New Zealand to thank for its commercialization and renaming (originally it was known as the tree tomato). It became popular there during the lean, food-rationed years of World War II.
Vanilla Bean Cream
Put six 1/2-cup ramekins in a deep roasting pan. Put the cream and vanilla bean in a saucepan, bring slowly to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, split the vanilla bean, scrape out the seeds and return the bean and seeds to the cream. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes. Strain.
Preheat the oven to 315 degrees F. Whisk the eggs, yolks, and sugar in a bowl. Whisk in the cream, then pour into the ramekins and cover each securely with foil. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 30 minutes or until just set. Refrigerate, covered, for 4 hours or overnight.
To poach the tamarillos, score a cross in the base of the fruit, plunge them into boiling water for 10 seconds, then transfer to iced water and peel away the skins, leaving the stalks attached. Put the sugar in a saucepan with 3 cups water and the orange peel. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the tamarillos. Poach for 6-8 minutes, depending on their ripeness. Turn off the heat, add the liqueur and leave the fruit in the syrup to cool.
Remove the fruit from the pan, then bring the syrup to a boil. Boil for 5-10 minutes or until reduced and thickened. Pour into a bowl, cover and leave to cool. Cut each tamarillo in half, leaving the stalk end intact, and serve with the sauce and vanilla bean cream pots.
This page created May 2007
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