Thursday, September 12, 2013

Tomatillo -- "Little Mexican Tomato"

This year we planted a different "tomato" in our garden known as the tomatillo (Physalis philadelphica) or known in Mexico as the "little green tomate." The tomatillo originated and was first cultivated in Mexico by the Aztecs in 800 B.C. Later it was imported to Europe and other parts of the world by the Spaniards. Today it is still a staple of Mexican crusine, commonly found growing as a annual field weed.

As you see above the fruit grows inside a paper husk and is the approximate size of a cherry tomato, however, although it is kin to the tomato, it is a night shade plant closer related to the Cape Gooseberry. The fruit matures as it fills the husk and may turn several colors in the process, such as, yellow, red or purple but it is best to harvest and prepare while green. The citrusy, sweet flavor adds a fresh, unusual flavor to any Mexican dish or recipe.

The tomatillo plant is drought resistant, needs full sun, well drained rich soil (raised beds work great) when growing. Like tomatoes plant deep and space approximately 3 feet apart, as the height can reach 3 to 4 feet. 
Other names used for this "little Mexican tomato" is husk tomato, jamberry, husk cherry and tomate verde. It gets 5 stars for weight loss and healthy eating, as it contains zero fat and only eleven calories per serving (34 grams). The tomatillo is also packed full of vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, magnesium, niacin, potassium, as well as, lends lots of dietary fiber to any palate.
Regarding all these factors, we hope our experiment growing tomatillos will be successful and they will become a permanent addition every year to our organic garden.

Tomatillos are used in salsas, dips, sauces for meats, jams, preserves and hundreds of favorite Mexican dishes, just like the recipe below, Salsa Verde:


2 large fresh red or green Anaheim chili peppers
1/2 pound fresh tomatillos
1 1/2 cup low salt chicken broth
2 large chopped green onions
1 large Serranto chili pepper, stemmed and seeded
1 large clove garlic
1/4 cup firmly packed cilantro leaves
1/4 cup half & half, heavy cream, sour cream or whipping cream


Char Anaheim chilies on a grill or oven broiler until blackened. Enclose in a paper bag for 10 minutes. Rinse, dry and chop chilies. Wash tomatillos (no need to skin or seed). In a medium sauce pan add tomatillos, chicken broth, chopped green onion, Serranto chili and garlic. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce to medium heat. Simmer for approximately 18 minutes or until mixture is reduced to about 1 2/3 cups. Cool then place in blender and puree adding remaining ingredients. Salsa can be made in advance, serving cold, or warm. Makes approximately 2 cups.

If you like this "little Mexican tomato" give it a try in your garden next year or just find a good market to buy them fresh. So....

Until Next Time.........

Happy Gardening 2013!

Posted by Wilma Smith

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