From tree tomato to tamarillo - a traditional Kiwi food icon A relative of the potato, tomato, eggplant and capsicum pepper, the tree tomato is native to Central and South America. Listed among the lost foods of the Incas and known as the ‘tomate de arbol’, tree tomatoes have all but disappeared from their native habitat. Tamarillos were first introduced into New Zealand from Asia in the late 1800’s. Originally only yellow and purple-fruited strains were produced. The red tamarillo was developed in the 1920’s by an Auckland nurseryman from seed from South America.In 1967 the fruit’s commercial name was officially changed from tree tomato to tamarillo to avoid confusion with the common garden tomato.
The name cleverly combines a Maori word and a Spanish word to make up the new name. “Tama” implies leadership in Maori. The inspiration for “rillo” is not known. Some believe “amarillo” (the Spanish word for yellow) was the source.Tamarillos are a great source of anti-oxidants and full of natural vitamins and minerals, and make a great snack, dessert, main course or drink.TAMCO was founded in May 2014 and is New Zealand’s only tamarillo cooperative. We now represent over 20 orchardists who grow tamarillos commercially. We use their harvests to make the best quality relish and vinaigrette that you can now buy from us online. https://www.tamco.co.nz