Our Cherry Tamarillo Salad is no ordinary fruit salad. The rich, deep colours intertwined with the equally rich, deep flavours, make for a sophisticated dinner party dessert fruit salad.
Why I Love Cherry Tamarillo Salad with Lemon Thyme
I love tamarillos for its flavour and texture. They are not in season for a very long time so when we do get them, I do enjoy eating something a little different.
I wanted to create a sophisticated fruit salad with a little difference and have done so by adding fragrant lemon thyme and finishing it off with velvety crème fraîche.
The indulgent crème fraîche and balsamic sugar syrup cuts through the tang of the tamarillos and enhances the richness of the cherries. And I love that its an unexpected combination as it’s always nice to present a fruit salad that’s a little different.
What Is Tamarillo?
A Tamarillo is also known as a tree tomato. The tamarillo fruit is an egg-shaped fruit with a smooth skin that is bitter to taste. The skin is often not consumed and discarded.
Native to the Andes of Peru, the flesh of the tamarillo is soft, orange in colour with black seeds. It is tangy, sweet and some say even a little spicy.
Tamarillo fruits also come in gold and amber colours although they are not as easy to find as the red one. For this tamarillo salad recipe, I have chosen to use the red tamarillos.
How to Peel Tamarillos?
As the skin of the tamarillo fruit is not really eaten, we have to peel them.
The quickest way to do so would be to make a small X incision at the bottom of the fruit. Then pour boiling hot water over the tamarillos in a bowl until fully submerged. Leave it for about 3-4 minutes.
When that is done, wash it under cool water. You should be able to then pinch the skin and it should come away relatively easily. If not, you can use a paring knife, grab hold of the skin that has slightly lifted and peel back.
How to Eat Tamarillo?
Much the same as tomatoes, you can eat tamarillos raw or cooked.
My preference is to eat them as is, as I would any other piece of fruit. All you have to do is cut them in half and using a spoon, scoop out the flesh.
The seeds are edible so eat the entire pulp. They are fantastic in salads and a great substitute for tomatoes if you’re looking for something a little different.
The juices of the tamarillo however can stain so do be careful when you’re eating them. I learnt that the hard way, didn’t I?
You can also cook the tamarillos. Fantastic in stews, a good base for sauces and used for jams and chutneys. The tartness of the tamarillos really suits those who prefer tangy flavours in their cooking.
How to Pit Cherries?
I’m sure everyone has their own way of removing the pits from cherries and I guess it depends on how much you need the cherry to look good.
If you’re just dumping them into something you’re cooking, stewing or perhaps even pureeing, then the end result is irrelevant. For us, the cherries are a show piece so it does matter that they are pitted nicely.
The neatest way to pit a cherry, especially if you want it to stay whole, is to use a cherry pitter.
But of course, I understand that there is no point investing in one if this is not something you do on a regular basis.
Plenty of hacks out there suggesting you can use a single chopstick or straw to pierce through the centre of the cherry and pushing the stone out through the other end.
They say practise makes perfect so you can always try these DIY methods but I can tell you now it’s a messy process!
I don’t want whole cherries for this salad. So, I use the traditional method of cutting the cherry around the pit, much like you would with any stone fruit or avocado.
With a little twist, I pop it open in half and with the tip of my knife, I nick the seed out of the cherry.
Difference Between Crème Fraîche and Sour Cream?
Crème fraîche is French for “fresh cream”. Both are made from cream and they both have a slightly acidic and tangy flavour.
Crème fraîche is a more premium product of the two and it has a velvety, melt in your mouth texture.
This may be attributed to the fact that it contains a butterfat content of no less than 30% and may even go up as high as 45%. Sour cream, although also made from cream, is less indulgent as it only contains 20% fat.
Sour cream is a single cream. It is made by adding lactic acid culture and occasionally milk and other ingredients like vegetable enzymes, gelatin and rennin to thicken and sour it.
In its original state, crème fraîche was (and still is in France and some European countries) made from unpasteurised dairy products. The crème fraîche was made naturally when the bacteria in the cream fermented it which allowed it thicken on its own.
In Australia and in the US, we are not permitted to purchase commercial products with unpasteurised dairy products. As a result of that, an artificial fermentation process is used whereby fermenting agents are added instead. The end result however, remains the same.
Crème fraîche is thicker, smoother and less tangy than sour cream.
So, to cut through the tang of the fruit and the balsamic syrup in this recipe, crème fraîche was a better choice. And really, for a dinner party, it’s nice to spoil your guests with something a little more decadent.
How to Make Cherry Tamarillo Salad with Lemon Thyme
How to Prepare the Tamarillos
To remove the skin of the tamarillos, place them in a large bowl and submerge it in boiling hot water. Let it sit for 5 minutes and wash them under cool water.
If it’s soft enough, you can just use your fingers to pinch the skin and pull it away. If not, use a paring knife, create a small nick at the top of the tamarillos and peel the skin back.
Cut the peeled fruit lengthwise and then cut them into 3 wedges each side. Each fruit will bear you 6 wedges. Place them in a medium sized bowl.
How to Pit the Cherries
As mentioned, I used the traditional knife method as I don’t have a cherry pitter.
If you have a cherry pitter, pit the cherries and then cut them in half.
If you’re using a knife, cut the cherry around the pit, much like you would with any stone fruit or avocado. With a little twist, I pop it open in half and with the tip of my knife, nick the seed out of the cherry. Add the cherries into the bowl with the tamarillos.
Add 1 tsp of fresh lemon thyme into the bowl. Mix thoroughly.
How to Make the Balsamic Vinegar Syrup
In a small saucepan, bring ½ cup of water to the boil. Add ½ cup of caster sugar and stir until it’s completely dissolved. If you would like it sweeter or thicker, slowly add more caster sugar 1 tbsp at a time until you get it to the consistency you’re after.
Set aside and let it cool.
Once it’s cooled, add 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar and stir until mixed through.
How to Assemble the Cherry Tamarillo Salad
Start by adding 2 tbsp of the balsamic sugar syrup to the bowl of tamarillos and cherries. Mix well.
Taste to see if it’s sweet enough for you. Add another tbsp of the balsamic sugar syrup if it’s not enough and keep doing so until you get to the level of sweetness you desire.
The first time I made this, everyone agreed it needed to be sweeter so don’t be too afraid to add a little more, especially if your guests all have a sweet tooth.
This cherry salad is very rich in colour with the deep reds, oranges and purples. If you’d like a dark moody presentation, use a black/dark grey/charcoal serving platter or bowl.
If you’d like a contrasting presentation, any light-coloured serving bowl will create that look for you.
Scoop 1 cup of crème fraîche and place it in a bowl and serve it on the side. Sprinkle some lemon thyme on top for garnish.
That way guests who prefer not to have the crème fraîche have that option. The last time I served this tamarillo recipe we finished the entire tub of crème fraîche!
To be clear, this is not a regular fruit salad. If you’re after something a little different, something that will give your tastebuds a good work out and a fruit salad that is sophisticated and very grown up, this tamarillo salad is the one to try.
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Cherry Tamarillo Salad with Lemon Thyme
- 8 tamarillos
- 24 cherries
- 1 tsp lemon thyme, chopped, divided
- 1 cup creme fraiche
Click on the toggle below for conversion to US Cooking Units.
- To remove the tamarillo skin, cut a cross at the bottom. Place the tamarillos into a medium sized mixing bowl and submerge them in boiling hot water for 3-4 minutes. Wash them under cool water. The skin at the bottom would have come away. Peel the tamarillo.Cut the peeled tamarillo into half, lengthwise. Then slice each half into 3 wedges. Place the wedges back into a medium sized mixing bowl.
- Remove the stems off the cherries. Pit the cherries with a cherry pitter and them cut them in half. Place them in the bowl of tamarillos.If you do not have a cherry pitter, use a small knife to cut the cherry around the pit, much like you would with any stone fruit or avocado. With a little twist, pop it open in half and with the tip of my knife, nick the seed out of the cherry. Place them in the bowl of tamarillos.
- Add 1 tsp of fresh lemon thyme into the bowl. Mix thoroughly.
- In a small saucepan, add ½ cup of water and bring to the boil.
- Add ½ cup of caster sugar and stir until fully dissolved.
- Remove from the stove and allow it to cool.
- Then add 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar and mix well.
- Add 2 tbsp of balsamic sugar syrup into the bowl of fruit. Mix well. Add more if you would like the cherry salad to be sweeter.
- In a shallow bowl, place the dressed fruits in a nice heap.
- In a small bowl, scoop out 1 cup of crème fraîche. Garnish with lemon thyme. Serve the fruit salad with the crème fraîche on the side.
- If you can’t find crème fraîche or prefer not to use crème fraîche, you can substitute it with cream or double cream. Don’t use sour cream as the fruit salad is already very tangy.
- If you’re a real sweet tooth, you can make the sugar syrup sweeter by adding more caster sugar. Just add the caster sugar slowly until you get the sweetness you prefer.
- If 2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar syrup is not sweet enough, add another tbsp one at a time until you get the flavour you’re after.
- For a vegan option, omit the crème fraîche.
- This fruit salad can be made ahead of time so you can leave it in the fridge for a few hours and bring it out when you’re ready to serve.
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