Saturday, June 16, 2012

Tamarillo de Colombia, the Andean tomato

The Tamarillo of Colombia, Cyphomandra betacea or Solanum betaceum, also called tree tomatoes, sachatomate, chilto and Andean tomato is a fruit shrub of the Solanaceae family. It is actually a giant tomato reaches three meters in height and more than 7 years. It originated in the Andes where we can find small wild populations in Argentina and Bolivia. It is cultivated as a vegetable in Peru, Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Bolivia and Ecuador. In recent decades its cultivation has spread to southern Europe, Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Ripe fruits of Cyphomandra betacea, very rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Tamarillo of Colombia adult three feet grown in an orange grove a few miles from the sea on the island of Mallorca. Unlike tomato, tamarillo of Colombia or tree tomato resists well the moderate cold with few frosts Mediterranean coastal areas. In particularly cold winters behaves as deciduous, losing leaves and bears in hibernation until temperatures rise in spring and then emerge again. Like all vegetables appreciates the contribution of well-decomposed organic matter either in the form of manure or compost. Fits any type of soil, where fertile and well drained. In the summers rainless need several waterings a week to keep well hydrated large leaves up to 30 centimeters. Easily reproduced by seeds that germinate quickly and the year it can begin to bear fruit.

 Its flowers come in clusters. They have five white petals and five yellow stamens. The leaves are very large and the veins are marked. Its blade is entirely and roped, that is, heart-shaped with the tip acuminate and is not subdivided into leaflets  as in the tomato. The petiole is long and thick. The leaves, especially the most tender, are covered with glanduliferous trichomes on both sides which give off a strong smell of tomato.

The fruits hang on long stems without thorns. Have the shape and size of a hen's egg. The fruit color varies from orange to deep red slightly bruised. The skin is smooth, thick and strong.

Under the skin is a thin layer of orange pulp surrounding the numerous seeds encompassed in a very juicy, translucent jelly sometimes tinged with red around each seed. The pulp of these fruits can be eaten like a teaspoon custard. Once peeled also can be eaten in salads like tomatoes or added to a tropical fruit salad. With its pulp can make a good sauce to add to rice, pasta and meat dishes, giving an intense tomato flavor very peculiar. In bakery can prepare delicious cakes with jam made from the pulp, such as a Swiss roll. Ice cream, sorbets and cocktails of Andean tomato are also delicious and very exotic.

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