First post! I like growing unusual fruit, but I'm a bit of a cooking novice, especially when it comes to fruit. We've just ripped out our tzimbalo (Solanum caripense) plants for the season, and now I have hundreds of these little fruit and no idea what to do with them.

Ripe tzimbalo are juicy, super sweet, and pretty tangy. I've heard some say that they have an aftertaste reminiscent of artificial sweetener, but I don't find that to be true -- then again, I can't remember the last time I knowingly ate artificial sweetener. I find the ripest ones make a nice snack on their own, but they pack so much punch I can only eat a few at a time.

Unripe tzimbalo don't have much sweetness and are so zingy they aren't really edible.

Tzimbalo harvest

As you can see, there's a lot of green in my harvest, and I'm not sure these fruit will do much post-pick ripening. (Tzimbalo take a notoriously long time to ripen, and we're not exactly in their preferred South American climate...)

Ideas that have been suggested to me include making chutney or a jam. I've never done either and wonder if:

  1. The varying ripeness (or general under-ripeness) will be a problem
  2. There are any tricks for ripening these little guys up
  3. There are ideas other than jam or chutney that I should consider

Administrative note: I know that recipe requests are discouraged, but I don't think this is exactly that, since:

  1. there is a question about how the (varying) ripeness affects the culinary uses of the fruit and/or the ability to make jam at all;
  2. there appears to be precedent for posting this type of question; and
  3. the highest voted answer in the Culinary Uses Guidelines affirms its validity, as my Internet searches have turned up exactly zero recipes and to the best of my knowledge the fruit is not available in U.S. supermarkets.

Thanks in advance for your ideas!


1 Answer 1


When it comes to the part about underripe fruit: that's ok to use in chutney, pickles, and other preserved recipes. There are recipes which are made intentionally for underripe fruit, like mangoes. You may want to adjust the sugar to your taste.

As for other uses, while I've never had tzimbalis, there are several methods typically used for very tangy fruit. Pickled pieces of it (alone or as a mixed pickle) and liqueur come to mind. Aside of that, you could try pureeing it and see if it is a good substitute for tamarind paste. Or mix the puree with random creamy ingredients and see which combination strikes you as a good dip.

Also, these being a solanum, try them as a substitute in recipes for unripe tomatoes. Although these will have a high overlap with the pickle suggestion, you might find a salsa or two that work.

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