The tomatillo is a smallish, bright green fruit that develops inside a papery husk. As a native of Mexico, it is used mainly in salsas and sauces, contributing both taste and color. Salsa verde (green sauce) is a frequent choice for topping enchiladas. The tomatillo is also a favored ingredient in many Latin American recipes.
The taste is tart and very “un-tomato-like.” Tomatillos are members of the physalis family and related to gooseberries and the “ground cherry,” which is red or orange.
Wild and cultivated tomatillos are easy to grow in hot climates and are plentiful year-round at larger stores and in ethnic markets. They may be found under many names, including tomate de cascara, husk tomato, miltomate, jamberry, and fresadilla.
Tomatillos can be as small as a marble or reach apricot size. The best fruits will have intact papery husks, which indicates freshness. They should feel firm to the touch. However, it is more common to find them in bins with semi-attached husks. These are easier to inspect for blemishes and cuts in the skin.
Tomatillos are considered ripe when green. Yellow tomatillos are past their prime. Even the best fruits range inconsistently from tart to sweet.
Do not confuse them with unripe green tomatoes, which contain toxins.
Place in paper bags and refrigerate for up to four weeks. Tomatillos can be blanched whole or sliced and fully cooked for freezing.
- Always remove the inedible husk.
- No peeling or seeding is required. Simply rinse and prepare.
- When serving raw as part of a fresh salsa, dice or puree for best balance of flavor.
- Taste tomatillos before cooking. If too tart, a pinch of sugar added to boiling water will offset some of the sourness.
- To reach a sauce consistency, boil in a small amount of water for 6-8 minutes.
- Ripe green tomato (equal amount) with a dash of lemon juice.