We first contacted Dick of South Spreyton about his avocados last summer. "Terrible season this year", he told us. "None to spare. But I'll have tamarillos by winter if you're interested."
This week, Dick called us and we went to meet him on the way home from picking up alfalfa from Shearwater, potatoes from Wesley Vale, red pears from Spreyton, and cherry tomatoes from Turners Beach.
The Shaws' immaculate orchard has up to 50 tamarillo trees. Dick first planted them for Lois to remind her of her Kiwi home. "New Zealanders are weaned on tamarillos," jokes Dick. They also named them. Although their origins are South American, the tamarillo is commonly known all over the world as "tree tomato". While savoury like a tomato, it's also sweet like guava or passionfruit, which is why Dick believes they are the most versatile of fruits.
Like passionfruit the skin is to be avoided while the flesh is scooped out. Sliced in half they can be eaten raw. Or, use them in chutneys or add them to stews or curries; toss them into an apple sponge or crumble, or poach them in red wine. "People either love them or hate them", says Dick. We'd love to hear what you think. Here, Dick and Lois have kindly shared two of their own recipes using South Spreyton tamarillos - the icing on the cake in this week's hilbarn box.
Allow one tamarillo per person.
Skin tamarillos (method as per tomatoes)
Slice fruit lengthways, lay in a shallow ovenproof dish. Pour over a little cider vinegar, sprinkle with brown sugar salt and pepper. Marinate for a couple of hours then heat before serving.
Tamarillo Fruit Sponge
Half fill pudding or pie dish with about 10 stewed and sweetened tamarillos (keep hot). Blend with or substitute any fruit in season you choose.
Sponge top recipe:
4 oz butter, 4 oz sugar, 2 eggs, 4 oz flour, 1 tsp baking powder
Cream butter and sugar, add eggs and beat well. Add flour and baking powder, pour over hot fruit. Bake for 45 mins at 200 degrees C. Serve hot with ice cream or cream.