PATI'S MEXICAN TABLE

January 14, 2010 11:52 AM
Tomatillos
POSTED IN: Vegetables , Ingredients
TAGS: Green , Ingredients , Tomatillo , Tomatillos , Vegetables
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Although they are widely available in the US, I don't think I have met more than a couple people here who use fresh tomatillos in their cooking. It may be partly because people are not familiar with them or how to cook them, but.... they are not an appealing ingredient as far as looks go with the first impression! But let me tell you why you should definitely give them a try (continue for more information and photo).


They are from the tomato family, but are much firmer than red tomatoes and less juicy. They are green and covered with a papery husk, that tends to be speckled with dirt and sometimes randomly torn or stuck to the flesh of the tomatillo. This is because the skin of the tomatillo is a bit sticky and waxy. They also have a somewhat humid aroma, from the moisture caught in between the skin and the husk along their travels and storage time.

Tomatillo2.jpg
However, don't let yourself be deceived by their cover and first appearance. Once you bring them home, peel the husk and rinse them off, you will see what a beautiful ingredient they are. They have a sensuous shape and a deep green shiny color. You will see even more beauty once you try their flavor and see all the things you can use them for.

In my opinon, they are one of the most unique ingredients in Mexican cooking. A bit tart, in a very peculiar way, they work wonderfully along spicy and sweet ingredients.

To buy them, don't be shy about touching them. You have to confirm they are firm, with a bright green color and not mushed, wrinkled or colorless, signs of being old and bitter. They should be fresh and you can tell by the husk which should be papery, regardless if it sticks to the tomatillo or not. So grab the tomatillo and peek inside the husk to see what you are getting before you put it in your basket!




Comments

I love to cook with tomatillos! I make my homemade salsa from them! People rave over it! :o) I would love to see tomatillo recipes! I just found your site through Paula Deans. So glad I did!

Jennifer Leal
Texas

Jennifer Leal | April 8, 2010 4:28 PM

Hi Jennifer,
So glad you found my site!!! Let me know if you are craving anything special. There are some tomatillo salsa recipes in here as well as a brisket in a tomatillo and pasilla sauce in one of the articles for NPR (Michoacan foods are forever) that you can find under recipes. Will post more soon! Very best,
Pati

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Jennifer Leal | April 8, 2010 10:13 PM

Pati,

I thought I should bring to your attention another member to the tomato/tomatillo family, which I would suggest you try if you can find them. This wonderful fruit goes by many different names, cape goose berry, husk cherry, ground cherry, etc. I first came across these delicious fruit while on a cruise on the Danube in Germany. The first time I popped one in my mouth, my mouth lit up and I was taken with their special flavior. They look very much like a tomatillo, with a paper husk but range in size from about 3/8" to about 1/2" in diameter, yellow/orange to orange in color, and with a sweat tangy tast. Their origins are from South America but have made their way to Africa and Asia, like most of what the Americas have had to offer. I live around San Jose California and the frost/freezes we have do not have a major impact on the plant. They do need to be supported or they will lay on the ground. I have two plants and they cover an area about 10' x 6' while growing out of two support cages. I am able to harvest fruit from mid-spring to late-fall and use them in salads in place of cherry tomatoes, in different meat dishes and I have read that they are made into jellies and pies. The plants I have are going on their fourth year.

I thank you for web page and was wondering if you have plans to put out a soft copy book? I have found that using a iPad in the kitchen is much easier than a hard copy book. For this reason I would encourage that if you do not have an e-book please consider doing one. You all but have one with what you have done with your web. To date I do have to confess I have created .pdf versions of some of your recipes so I have them at my finger tips, no pun intended.

Thank You Again
Bob

Bob Hills | April 10, 2011 7:45 PM

Hi Bob,
Many thanks for that information. That cape goose berry sounds like an absolute delicacy! You've got me in trouble now, as I am dying to try it.
I am so glad you like and enjoy mi recipes, and have them at your fingertips :)

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Bob Hills | April 11, 2011 10:35 PM

Pati:

I just wanted to let you know that the tomatillo is becoming more and more popular. Although I do have to admit that when I buy (most of the time for salsa verde) them a lot of times people ask me what they are. The health food store that I work at has Seeds of Change Seeds and I bought Purple Tomatillos de Milpa and am still waiting on them. Purple! I guess it will be salsa morado. Yum.

Holly | August 14, 2011 3:35 PM

Can we freeze tomatillos. We are growing them in our garden and will have a lot of them.

Thank you

Dick Hoxsey | August 21, 2011 3:38 PM

Hola Pati,
Este verano mi esposo y yo plantamos semillas de tomatillo en nuestro jardin y se nos dieron muy bien. El problema es que la fruta salio muy tarde (las plantamos en julio), ya es octubre en Alemania y creo que por el frio no van a madurar todos los mini tomatillos que tenemos, ademas de que la planta puede morir en cuanto empiece a helar. Puedo meter la maceta a la casa, pero no se si sea suficiente.
Tienes alguna recomendacion acerca de cuando sembrarlos el anio que entra (todavia tengo semillas que traje de Mexico) o si aguantan el frio, etc? Me muero de ganas de poder hacer mi propia salsa verde, asi como otras recetas que he encontrado aqui. Tambien me gustaria saber como saber si ya estan maduros! Mi esposo ha cortado algunos, pero siguen chiquititos y estoy segura de que estaban lejos de ser fruta madura.
Mil gracias!
Jimena

Jimena | October 12, 2011 7:18 AM

On your episode on tomatillos (104?) there was a "tip" on storing the fruit. I believe it was a way to freeze it, but I had to answer the phone and missed it... PLEASE TELL ME THE TIP!!!

Thank you

Steven Baer | March 28, 2012 7:16 PM

Just ran across your show which is great! I live in a small market in western Pennsylvania. Is there some place I can get tomatillos?

Bruce Cadenhead | April 1, 2012 4:16 PM

Hola Bruce, You can find tomatillos in a lot of main stream supermarkets, but if not, check out your local farmers market. Let me know if you have anymore questions!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Bruce Cadenhead | April 5, 2012 5:06 PM

Here is the tip Steven! First, peel, rinse and slice up the tomatillos. Then place the sliced tomatillos on a baking sheet and place in the freezer. Once the pieces of tomatillos are frozen, move to a ziploc bag. Then place in the freezer until you are ready to use . This process will prevent the tomatillos from mushing together. Let me know if you have anymore questions!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Steven Baer | April 9, 2012 5:48 PM

Where do I find a three legged chicken?

Great timing on airing the show. First year I've tried growing tomatillos and it's been exceptional hot (in St Louis). Just picked the first batch of 3 lbs this afternoon.

Michael | July 18, 2012 8:19 PM