When we lived in Panama for a month we had two types of (new to me) tomatoes growing in abundance around us. Next to the veggie patch there was a whole row of tamarillo shrubs and down next to the banana and coffee plantation the naranjilla’s were fast ripening. When we didn’t have any guests in the lodge to look after, when home schooling was finished for the day and I had a few minutes over – I would make chutneys, salsas and jams with these tomatoes.
Alma, one of the owners and the chef of the lodge (now on holiday and that’s why we were there) makes the most wonderful chili and tree tomato (tomatillo) jam. There were jars of it in the fridge – so delicious. I tried to replicate the jam Alma had made and also made other versions.
The tree tomato (or tamarillo or árbol de tomate in Spanish) is an egg shaped tomato fruit, native to Latin America. The variety that I came across is red and tastes slightly like a sour passion fruit. The skin is bitter and inedible. It’s grown commercially for export in New Zealand and is high in vitamin A, B and potassium. It’s flesh is bright orange and it’s seeds and pulp bright red. It is delicious in salads or on its own, or in salsas, chutneys and jams.
Naranjilla is an orange tomato that tastes a bit like sour plum or gooseberry. In Panama I used them almost daily in salads and vinaigrettes. Now back home in the UK I use sour plums and lime for similar effect. Sour gooseberries would work too. The naranjilla grows on spiky bushes with huge velvety leaves and beautiful purple flowers. The fruit has spikes that rub off when ripe. Naranjilla is high in vitamins A, C, B as well as iron, phosphorus, beta-carotene, magnesium, calcium and is high in antioxidants. The naranjilla is also delicious on it’s own, or in salsas, chutneys and jams.
We would often eat our jams and chutneys as a sweet and spicy condiment with beef cooked in a lemongrass broth and rice. Delicious!
Instead of naranjilla I would use sour plums or gooseberries and instead of tree tomato I would use passion fruit and normal red tomatoes.
Naranjilla and tree tomato chutney: I used equal parts of both fruits, finely chopped red onion, garlic, sugar and a pinch of salt and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. I let the mixture cool down a little before putting it in sterilised jars.
Naranjilla salsa: a super sour and tart little salsa. Red onion, finely chopped naranjilla, lime juice, olive oil and salt. I used parsley here but prefer coriander.
Naranjilla, tree tomato and red (normal) tomato salsa: a classic salsa with red onion, garlic, olive oil, coriander, lemon juice, chilli, salt and pepper.
Tree tomato salsa: chopped up tree tomato, chilli, salt, pepper, olive oil and a splash of really good balsamic vinegar. This is a fragrant, sweet and sour little salsa that is delicious with all sorts of fish and meats. Or as a dressing over salads.
Narjanjilla and tree tomato jam: I made two versions of this. One with sugar and chilli and one without any sugar and no chilli to make a tart, natural jam. The natural pectin will thicken the jam. I let the finely chopped fruit cook down for just about 20 minutes as I made quite small batches. Tree tomato is naturally high in pectin and can easily be made to jelly as well.
Naranjilla chutney, pretty much the same ingredients as in the naranjilla salsa with the addition of sugar and ginger. Instead of eaten raw it’s cooked down for 20 minutes.