I hadn’t eaten a tamarillo in something like 15 years but my god I have been missing out. You don’t see them much in Britain though, so I do have an excuse, but now that I am back in New Zealand I can enjoy these stunning burgundy fruit every autumn. They have a unique flavour that I can’t really pinpoint but it’s like a really fragrant, fruity tomato that is also slightly tropical in taste. They are very sharp eaten raw, but are just the business when poached becoming slightly silken and just pure delightfulness. Skye Gyngell is one of my food heroes (I’ve probably gone on and on about her loads already on this blog) and raves about tamarillos. I’ve had Skye’s recipe for Almond Panna Cotta with Poached Tamarillos earmarked by an unusually stained post-it note for years, waiting patiently to be made. Just the other day, I spotted some fine looking tamarillos at the weekly market and finally got around to making one half of the said recipe – the poached tamarillos. The almond panna cotta will have to wait. Sigh. Tamarillos are simmered gently in sugar syrup imparted with the all-important spices: cinnamon, vanilla pod and yes, bay leaves. (I’ve only just discovered, over the past year, how good bay leaves are in sweet things. Rice pudding with bay leaf and manuka honey being one of my all-time favourite ways to eat rice!)
I served these jewel-like beauties warm with ice cream. On the following days I had them on top of granola and then buttermilk pancakes as the syrup just keeps on giving. You can keep any leftover tamarillos and syrup in a jar in the fridge and just add to smoothies or the odd porridge that needs a bit more excitement. One thing is for sure in this life and that is I’m definitely a tamarillo convert and there is no going back.
220 g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod, slit in half
1 cinnamon stick
2 fresh bay leaves
Prepare the tamarillos buy cutting them in half lengthways. Put 500 ml water, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and bay leaves into a saucepan and set over low heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Increase the heat and bring to a simmer for 5–10 minutes, or until the liquid looks a little syrupy. Add the tamarillos and poach for 5 minutes, or until they begin to soften and pop out of their skins. Take off the heat and leave to cool in the poaching liquid for a few minutes. Serve warm or transfer to a jar and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
(Recipe from A Year in My Kitchen by Skye Gyngell, Quadrille)