Potential for development of novel food products from tree tomato (Tamarillo) fruit

Solanum betaceum, commonly referred to as tree tomato fruit is scantly grown in Kenya and is mostly used as fresh fruit or blended to make juice. Despite its huge potential for processing, most of these tree tomato fruits are produced for household consumption and selling without any value addition. It has a potential as an economic enterprise and should therefore be promoted to increase production as well as value addition.

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Tree tomato fruits

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Researchers have studied the bioactive substances possibly present in this tree fruit, some concluding that the fruit could possibly contain bioactive substances of importance in the fight against cancer Read more here. This makes this fruit an interesting addition in the development of functional foods.

Compositional analysis of this fruit has revealed that it is high in pectin. Thus, tomarillos can be used to formulate good jellies, jams, preserves, or chutneys.

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Tree tomato tree flowering

Research areas of interest

Given the scanty information available about this interesting fruit, it would be of interest to know the following:

  1. What is the nutrient composition of this tree tomato fruit and how does it differ to other fruits from different regions, or how it is influenced by farming methods, management practices, etc
  2. What is the nutritional quality and safety (microbial and chemical) of value added tree tomato fruit products such as juices, jams and marmalades
  3. How efficient is this fruit as a source of pectin in processed food products?
  4. What is the effect of processing (heat treatment, freezing, etc) on the nutrient quality and quantity in tree tomato and tree tomato products
  5. Shelf-life studies on all the fruit-based products would be of interest.
  6. Pectin and pectin-derived oligosaccharides (POS) having been identified as emerging prebiotics with improved properties, such as their superior ability for modulating microbiota in the GIT, it would be of interest to study the utility of this fruit in the development of synbiotic foods.

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