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.
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.