Fruit of the month: tomatillo

September Fruit of the Month: Tomatillos

Don’t let their appearance fool you—this green fruit isn’t an unripe red tomato. Tomatillos—also known as husk or Mexican green tomatoes—are a variety all their own with a zesty fresh taste known to add flavor to some of the most popular Mexican dishes.

Sweet, tangy tomatillos are native to Central America where its vines can be found growing wild along the ground, unlike the common red tomato that grows upright. If you’re planning to add them to your garden, consider using a trellis or tomato cage to help keep the plant’s stems from sprawling over the ground, rooting, and taking up too much space. When The fruit grows to the size of a large, round walnut they’re ready to harvest!

You can eat tomatillos raw, but most often they are enjoyed cooked. These tasty little fruits are widely used in Mexican sauces (think salsa) and stews (think moles).

Tomatillos are a delicious and zesty healthy choice because they:

  • Are low in calories
  • Contain Vitamin C for a healthy immune system
  • Contain Vitamin K to help the body heal

If you’re shopping at the store or farmer’s market for the common green tomatillo, choose ones that are firm, green, shiny, and firmly attached to their husk. Steer clear of yellow or purplish tomatillos—they are are overripe and won’t be nearly as flavorful. You can store your tomatillos at room temperature for up to a week, or in the refrigerator in a paper bag for up to two weeks.

Learn how to cook tomatillos at home:

With your freshly cooked tomatillos, try this five-star recipe.

Tomatillo Salsa Verde

Recipe from Kimberly Binning
“This authentic Mexican salsa verde has a fabulous flavor. Use it on chicken enchiladas or as a condiment for any dish that needs a little extra zip!”

Ingredients

  • 1-pound tomatillos husked 
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion 
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic 
  • 1 serrano chile peppers, minced 
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro 
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste 
  • 2 cups water

Directions

  1. Place tomatillos, onion, garlic, and chile pepper into a saucepan. Season with cilantro, oregano, cumin, and salt; pour in water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the tomatillos are soft, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Using a blender, carefully puree the tomatillos and water in batches until smooth.

Sources: U.S Dept. of Agriculture; Iowa State University; Eat Fresh; Bonnie’s Plants