We love tomatillos and grow several varieties every year ~ some yellow, some purple, mostly green. Tomatillos are a summer annual and part of the nightshade family; tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant. The tomatillo is often thought of as a tomato, but truly these paper protected fruits are quite different. It’s as if a tomato and a lime had a baby. The heartiness of an underripe tomato and the zing of a citrusy lime best describe a tomatillo’s texture and flavor. They are most often used in salsas and soups like Pozole Verde, Chicken Tortilla, chili and hominy soups. We use them in our black bean soups, chicken tortilla soup, pozole soups, tamales, omelettes, and of course salsas.
A few years ago I got a different variety at a local farm (I’m sorry I don’t know the name of the farm! It was down in Junction City) called Tomatillo Plaza Latina. The plant was impressive and already producing these larger fruits – much larger than the ones we were growing. This variety doesn’t produce as much fruit and they do take longer to ripen, but the tomatillos are big and seem to have more of a citrus flavor. They’re delicious in salsas! And, every year we get volunteers in our gardens. Tomatillos are very loyal that way.
We’ve been harvesting babies for over a month and still have a large amount to pick! The paper or husk on the tomatillos is a great protection from harsh weather conditions and insects, so we usually have tomatillos late into October, early November. Once the fruit has grown to capacity in the husk, it’s ready to pick. AND if you somehow don’t notice they are ready to pick, tomatillos undress! They’ll strip themselves of their paper dress just to let you know it’s time. It’s really pretty cool.
Tomatillos are in all the markets right now, so if you’re interested ~ here’s an easy fresh tomatillo salsa recipe you can try. It’s freezer friendly too! Please note: This is a fresh salsa. however many chefs roast their tomatillos prior to putting into the salsa. You can do this as well. Toss tomatillos in olive oil, place on sheet pan and roast for 15 minutes at 425.
Makes two pints = 4 Cups
- 10 fresh organic tomatillos (any variety), husks removed
- 1 medium size onion, rough chopped
- 1 medium size jalapeño, stemmed with seeds
- 4-5 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1-2 limes juiced and zested (about 1/4 cup juice and 1 T zest)
- 1 bunch fresh organic cilantro, chopped with stems
- 1 tsp salt
Rinse the tomatillos under cold water to remove stickiness. In a food processor, place tomatillos, onion, jalapeño, garlic, lime juice. Puree until all chunky pieces are blended in. Add in cilantro and salt. If the salsa seems too thick and difficult to blend, you can add a tablespoon of water to help process. Taste for spiciness – we often add in more jalapeño or a chipotle. Add more salt if needed. Serve with chips, slather onto burritos, add to a favorite dressing and serve on salads, spoon over eggs, blend into a hearty Mexican soup, add to sour cream for a kick of flavor and serve over crispy oven fries.
This will keep in your refrigerator for up to two weeks. Or in the freezer for 3 months.