A much loved ingredient in Mexican and TexMex cooking, the tomatillo comes in green and green-purple colours, covered by a husk that turns from a soft feeling green to a dry, papery brown. It is the tartness and the colour that the tomatillo is prized for.
A member of the nightshade family (that also includes potatoes and aubergines), tomatillos are native to Mexico and were domesticated around 800B.C by the Aztecs. In my experience, fresh tomatillos are not easy to find outside of Mexico, S America and the US.
Here in the UK, the only kinds I can find are the canned variety. So, every summer, I make it a point to grow them. They are extremely easy to grow, starting off rather unassuming, then by mid summer, you end up with about a gazillion little fruit hanging off the branches.
They are pretty easy to grow. I’ve always grown them in containers as well; with 4 kids, much of our garden space is not plant proof! I’ve had many Augusts that have been cool and not altogether sunny, but that hasn’t stopped the tomatillos! For a tropical plant, it’s pretty hardy!
Purple Tomatillos not Purple Enough?
- Pick them off the plants when they are ripe (when the husk is dry).
- Peel the husk off completely.
- Place the tomatillos on a plate on a sunny windowsill, or just a bright place, for 3-5 days.
- Turn them over halfway through, so they get uniformly purple.
How to Use Tomatillos
- In the traditional way, they make great salsas, the tart flavour is better suited for Mexican and other Latin American condiments and sauces than your regular green tomatoes. Here, on LinsFood, you’ll find it used to make the Mexican Salsa Verde.
- I recently made a margarita out of my tomatillos, I shall link up the recipe here as soon as it’s published. You’ll love it, one clue – it’s hot!
- In curries and stews! Tomatillos add an amazing depth and tang to these dishes.
- In conjunction with vinegar and other citric juices like lime and lemon juice.
What to do with extra Tomatillos?
Freeze them! Place them in a freezer proof bag, expel as much air as you can and freeze. They will last a good year.
You can find more plants, exotic and otherwise, on my Edible Garden page.
Tomatillo Recipes on LinsFood
How to Use Tomatillos
- Fresh tomatillos
- Peel the papery husks off and rinse off all the sticky residue with warm water.
- Use as the recipe calls for. See above for the recipes on LinsFood.