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Tree Tomato // Sachatomate

An egg shaped fruit has haunted me for many years. I have seen it on many occasions but have never been brave enough to buy it. It resides in the shelves with other fruits, but it has the word tomato in its name. The confusion that a tomato fruit caused me was enough to cause doubt in the initial purchase.

Tree Tomato Fruit

I know, I know you are all going to tell me that really, technically, a tomato is a fruit. But really & truly do you think of it like that? No, not really. You and I both think of those red, juicy tomatoes as vegetables with go great in salad, wonderful in salsa and make a mean pizza sauce. But as a fruit?

The tree tomato or tomate de arbol is grown on a small tree or a shrub in clusters. Although the tomate de arbol is native to the Andes region, Wikipedia reports that it is also cultivated in New Zealand, the US, Portugal and Indonesia along with other South American countries. In places like Colombia and Ecuador, the tree tomato is used medicinally. The fruit or leaves are warmed and applied topically especially for tonsil inflammation. For the flu, it is recommended to eat the fresh fruit and otherwise fast. The fruit is also said to have a high ascorbic acid content.

Although I do enjoy this “fruit” as part of a hot sauce, I can confidently say that I did not enjoy it as a juice. We tasted it while in Ecuador recently. I would love to have more ways to use this fruit, I think it is so interesting!

Do you have access to tomate de arbol, tree tomato, sachatomate or tamarillo? How do you use it?

Originally posted on Canela & Comino on Mar 20, 2008 with the Tree Tomato Hot Sauce recipe.


20 Responses to “Tree Tomato // Sachatomate”

  1. You should try tomate de arbol juice, it is one of the things I miss most about living in that part of the world!

    Posted by Blair | March 20, 2008, 8:28 am
  2. Another thing I have never heard of before – what a great dish!

    Posted by Deborah | March 20, 2008, 9:44 am
  3. Funny! I love all of your potential ideas. Beautiful photos! The spoon one is excellent…how did you do it?

    Posted by Karen | March 20, 2008, 10:52 am
  4. Well, I don’t think I have access to any of those things, but it’s worth a look. That sauce looks fabulous! I could see myself spooning it on everything!

    Posted by StickyGooeyCreamyChewy | March 20, 2008, 11:21 am
  5. Oooh… I want to try this!

    Posted by Ann | March 20, 2008, 12:45 pm
  6. i’m pretty sure i’d just eat this by the spoonful. or better yet, i’d bring the entire bowl up to my mouth and pour it down my throat. awesome! :)

    Posted by A. Grace | March 20, 2008, 1:13 pm
  7. I like it a lot and, yes, we have it here in Portugal (even if it’s still a little luxury to buy it – it’s very expensive). This sauce is a must try!

    Posted by Suzana | March 20, 2008, 1:49 pm
  8. This looks exceedingly good–for a spice lover like myself, sounds like heaven!

    Posted by Cakespy | March 20, 2008, 2:54 pm
  9. That looks delicious! I bet it has a nice spicy kick!

    Posted by Jessy and her dog Winnie | March 20, 2008, 4:08 pm
  10. You’re amazing. I realize you’re a whole continent away, but still I’m impressed how you keep coming up with things I’ve never seen or tasted! Sounds delicious.

    Posted by Kalyn | March 20, 2008, 6:28 pm
  11. There is a peruvian restaurant near me, and I love the food. I’d love to learn how to make some of the dishes- particularly the vegetarian dishes. Some of my favorites of theirs are (descriptions from their menu):Ajiaco: Spicy peruvian potato and cheese stewMote Chorreado: Peruvian corn tossed with fresh tomatoes in a spicy cheese saycePastel de Quinua: Andean grain layered with assorted cheeses and peruvian hot peppersI’ve attempted recipes I’ve found for Papas a la huancaina, but it never comes out at all like it is at the restaurant. It is much richer and more savory at the restaurant, and at home it’s like a trashy breakfast food. Hmm.I’d love suggestions on how to make some of these, or cookbooks. So far my searches have come up rather short. I’ve added your blog to my feed reader and look forward to reading more from you!

    Posted by Ether | March 20, 2008, 8:47 pm
  12. Fascinating Gretchen. Like others, I’ve never seen or heard of this fruit before, and I know for sure I won’t be able to find it in Alaska! But I’ll definitely keep my eyes peeled for it on my travels. Thanks for the education!

    Posted by Laurie Constantino | March 21, 2008, 4:35 am
  13. I have never seen tree tomatoes. That is so wonderful that you have access to so many different varieties of fruits and vegetables. So lucky!

    Posted by Aran | March 21, 2008, 5:53 am
  14. I’ve never heard of a tree tomato…and if I’ve seen one I would have assumed it was a persimmon…Very interesting…Now I’ll have to watch for them – but probably not hear in France. Spain, maybe…

    Posted by katiez | March 21, 2008, 11:03 am
  15. I don’t think I’ve ever seen tree tomatoes in the markets here, but that hot sauce looks amazing, so I will make a trip to our large Latino supermarket in Providence to see what they have. Maybe I’ll get lucky.

    Posted by Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) | March 21, 2008, 2:33 pm
  16. Nice recipe.I am so glad to have found your blog as I fell in love with Peruvian food while visiting Peru, twice.I am still dreaming of lucuma ice cream,which must have been the best ice cream flavour I have ever had.

    Posted by Yaelian | March 22, 2008, 8:29 am
  17. I’ve never seen these tomatoes-I love their color! I just made salsa last week-a recipe from a Mexican friend-I always end up having to add a LOT of salt, but it’s sooo good!

    Posted by Rebecca | March 22, 2008, 12:17 pm
  18. how neat! i have never seen this type of tomato before…

    Posted by Jaime | March 22, 2008, 3:02 pm
  19. i’ve seen a couple of posts about these in the past month. i’ve never had them before, and now i really want to track them down. this sounds great!

    Posted by michelle @ the smackdown | March 22, 2008, 9:08 pm
  20. Blair – I did read about the juice and I imagine it is wonderful. When I see them again, I will be sure to pick them up.Deborah – Glad I could introduce you to something new!Karen – Thanks! Literally, spoon in left hand, camera in right hand and snapped away!SGCC – It *was* fabulous. It is so gone now!Ann – You definitely should try it!A. Grace – Yes, it is worthy of the spoonful!Suzanna – How fun to know that you have it in Portugal. I got about 10 tomatoes for USD$1.50.Cakespy – You would enjoy this then!Jessy – It was delicious, including the kick!Kalyn – Oh, just wait…there’s more!Ether – Glad you enjoy Peruvian food! I have been working on the huancaina sauce for a while and haven’t gotten it to where I love it. The ajiaco & pastel I haven’t tried yet. The Mote…That I am curious about. Doesn’t sound like something I know…do you know what region of Peruvian food they are cooking? Likely from the mountains, but if they told you what area, that would help.Laurie – So glad to introduce you to something new!Aran – I am very lucky here!Katie – Let me know if you do find them!Lydia – I hope you can get your hands on them, they are great in this sauce!Yaelian – Lucuma ice cream?!? I haven’t even brought up lucuma yet on the blog. I will one day!Rebecca – Hope you run across them one day.Jaime – It was delicious!Michelle – You should try this! You know you want to!

    Posted by Gretchen Noelle | March 25, 2008, 9:28 am

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