Taste Tamarillos at Free Ultra-Exotic Fruit Event

Have you ever bit into a bilimbi or tasted tamarillos? Known as ultra-exotic fruits, these not-so-well-known edibles are among a growing number of odd fruits that are intriguing island chefs and shoppers.


Taste test tamarillos 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday, November 16 at Island Naturals-Hilo. Chef Rob Love of the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel will demonstrate how to use tamarillos and offer samples. The store will stock the fruit in their produce section and attendees will receive recipes and tamarillo info to take home.

The Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers (HTFG) is presenting the fruity fun to build markets for several tropical fruit rarities. HTFG members are growing a wide variety of ultra-exotic tropical fruits and they say the fruits are under-utilized by the mainstream market. Ultra-exotics under cultivation in Hawaii include Surinam cherry, calamonsie, jackfruit, pummelo, chico, lychee, white sapote, mangosteen and others.

Also known as tree tomatoes, the egg-shaped tamarillo is native to South America. Its flesh is “tangy and variably sweet with a bold and complex flavor,” according to HTFG President Ken Love, who will join his son, Chef Rob, for the demonstration.

Titled “New Markets for Ultra-Exotic Fruits,” the free event series is funded by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture through a USDA competitive grant program to foster small farm sustainability. A total of eight events are planned around the state. For more information, contact Love at [email protected] or 808 (969-7926).

Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers

Incorporated in 1989 to promote tropical fruit grown in Hawaii, HTFG is a statewide association of tropical fruit growers, packers, distributors and hobbyists dedicated to tropical fruit research, education, marketing and promotion; http://www.htfg.org.

Play on Pasta in Tree Tomato Sauce

By Chef Rob Love, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel – Serves 5


  • 2 Large locally grown Purple Sweet potatoes6 tree tomatoes / tamarillos
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1tsp red salt
  • 1Tbl chopped basil
  • 1Tbl parsley


Shred sweet potatoes paper thin on mandolin or slicer. Salt and set aside until pliable.  Cut tree tomatoes in half and chop. In a large bowl mix in brown sugar, basil and parsley followed by the sweet potato slices folded in half.  Let sit 15 minutes before serving.

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