Tamarillos are one of those fruits that really stir up childhood memories for me. Because my mum is such a great cook, growing up, the year was punctuated by particular foods. As food was only enjoyed seasonally when I was younger, I recall particular times of year specifically through what was in season. It is mainly fruit that comes to mind, strawberries (which always appeared around my birthday, a lovely coincidence!), peaches (mum used to bottle these, along with plums and apricots), feijoas and of course tamarillos. Tamarillos have quite a short season, and as they are quite a local thing, they are not the kind of thing that appears at any other time of the year, unlike apples, oranges, pears etc. They are probably quite an acquired taste, having grown up with them they are quite familiar to me but a good friend (who has moved here from the UK) recently told the story of how she chopped some into a fruit salad to take to a pot luck dinner, only to find that they weren't really suited to a fruit salad, which was left uneaten! They are certainly a fruit that needs sweetening, my most common memory of them is simply cutting them in half and sprinkling each half with white sugar and then scooping out the flesh with a spoon, straight into my mouth! We used to have them lightly stewed with cereal for breakfast or with icecream for dessert. The other common use was in chutneys, which I actually think is where they shine the most. They have the kind of distinctive flavour that really sets the chutney apart from anything else, and it works really well with strong hard cheeses and red meats, especially lamb.
Here is my recipe for tamarillo chutney, taken from Aunt Daisy's cookbook, which my mother still has a copy of and is great to revisit from time to time for all those old fashioned favourites. I cut the fruit quite chunky for this, expecting it to break down and go alot mushier, it didn't! But that turned out to be a good thing as you get distinct flavour this way, it is such a lovely chutney.
750g apples (granny smith preferably)
2 c malt vinegar
1.25 kg brown sugar
2 tbsp mixed spice
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Scoop tamarillos out of skins and roughly chop. Peel, core and chop apples and chop onions, then add to large pot with the rest of the ingredients. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally, then turn down heat and simmer for about an hour. Pour into hot sterilised jars and seal.
Purists say that you should leave this for a good few months before using. I can never wait that long I am afraid so I honestly can't compare!
I also found a recipe for Tamarillo clafoutis in The Best of Annabel Langbein: Great Food For Busy Lives (revised and expanded edition) but when it came time to make it I couldn't find my book, so instead used the clafoutis recipe from Nigella Express: 130 Recipes for Good Food, Fast and substituted the tamarillos for the cherries. It worked out really well, I macerated the tamarillos first in some brown sugar, orange juice and zest, then added them where the cherries go in (draining off any juices/syrup from the tamarillos before adding them). It was especially nice cold the next day, Nigella does warn of how good it is the next day, and she is soooo right, I couldn't stop eating it! The tamarillos needed more sweetening though, so perhaps it might be an idea next time to up the sugar level in the batter when using tamarillos.Clafoutis (made with tamarillos!)
2 tsp vegetable oil
75g plain flour
50g caster sugar
300ml semi skimmed milk
6 tamarillos, skinned and sliced (and left to macerate as described above)
icing sugar for dusting to serve
Put oil in shallow solid cake tin or pie dish about 22 cm diameter, then put dish in oven, turning the oven on to 220c as you do so. In a large bowl, mix flour and sugar, then whisk in eggs one at a time. Add milk and mix well. When oven has reached temperature, stir the drained tamarillos into the batter, quickly open the oven, take out the hot dish and pour the batter into it, popping the filled dish quickly back into the oven. Bake for 30 mins, until puffed up and golden. (it sinks soon after coming out so don't be disappointed!). Let stand for 10 minutes, then dust with icing sugar to serve.