An Exhaustive Guide to TOMATILLOS

The first time I saw a tomatillo, I was apprehensive about buying one from the farmer's market. At first glance, tomatillos looked like unripe green tomatoes, but the farmer assured me that they are something entirely different.

After that, it was all questions: should I cook tomatillos in their husks or remove the paper husk first? How come they're so waxy once the peel has been taken off? Another mystery is why a tomatillo's interior is so much drier and denser than a tomato's.

I was coaxed into purchasing some, and so I brought some home to try. As soon as I figured out how to prepare and cook tomatillos, I became obsessed with their juicy, bright flavor.

Tomatillo: What's It All About?

Along with tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and potatoes, tomatillos (also known as husk tomatoes) are annual plants in the nightshade family. Although tomatillo plants are in the tomato family, they don't yield tomatoes' juicy fruit. Instead, tomatillos are more like unripe tomatoes in appearance (and texture): small, round, and firm with a dense interior. Some ripe tomatillos turn yellow or purple, but most of the time they are a vibrant green.

Tomatillos are unlike any other fruit due to the thin, papery husk that develops around the fruit to protect it as it ripens. This resemblance is what gives them the appearance of a cape gooseberry, also called a ground cherry or husk cherry. Even when fully ripe, tomatillos lack the sugar content of tomatoes and ground cherries. Instead, they taste very similar to limes in that they are extremely sour and bright. Roasting reduces the acidity of tomatillos, revealing their subtle sweetness.

In what ways are tomatillos typically employed?

Tomatillos are a common ingredient in Mexican cuisine because they are native to Mexico and Central America. Consumed uncooked, the sour taste of a tomatillo is eye-opening. It's best to use them in tomatillo salsa, or to mix them with hot peppers to make salsa verde. As an alternative to lemon juice, they can be finely chopped and used in salads or as a garnish for fatty meat dishes.

When heated, tomatillo takes on a more pleasant, almost sweet taste. For extra flavor and depth, we like to roast tomatillos in the oven, broil them, or throw them on the grill before using them in salsa. Pozole verde and chicken tomatillo soup are two examples of soups that utilize tomatillos.

Tomatillos, when chopped, are a great addition to rich meat dishes like casseroles and enchiladas, and they go particularly well with braised pork. Just halving them lengthwise and grilling them makes for a tasty topping for grilled chicken or fish. They also make a great salad dressing when simmered in water and blended with buttermilk and avocado.

Preparing Tomatillos

Put unopened tomatillo husks in a paper bag when you get home from the market. Produce kept in the refrigerator's crisper drawer can be kept fresh for up to three weeks.

To eat them, simply remove the paper husks by peeling them back with your fingers. The inside fruit may be waxy, so wash it with a soft brush and cold running water to remove any excess wax. Then you can either half them for roasting or grilling, or toss them whole into a blender for salsa.

Can You Get Sick From Eating Tomatillos?

Inconsistent evidence suggests that unripe tomatillos are toxic. We don't know if that's true, but we do know for sure that unripe tomatillos have a horrible flavor. They have an unimaginable level of sourness and bitterness.

To be safe, we'll always advise using only fully ripe tomatillos in your cooking. Select tomatillos that have paper lanterns that have been split open and are a dark green color. When ripe, certain types of tomatillos take on a yellowish or even purple hue.

The rest of the plant, including the leaves, stems, and flowers, is inedible, just like other nightshade vegetables. It's best to remove the husks from tomatillos before using them in recipes, as they are not edible.

Top Picks for Tomatillo Dishes

Fresh Shrimp And Avocado Nachos Exps Sdjj18 214141 B02 15 2b 15
I enjoy shrimp and my loved ones enjoy nachos. The combination of these two go-tos, with the addition of some fresh avocado, produced a snack that was both refreshing and filling. This was written by Teri Rasey from Cadillac, Michigan.
California Burger Bowls Exps Sdas17 190570 D04 04 1b 8
We eat hamburgers once a week all year long. You can forego the bun, chips, and fries because these veggie and fruit burgers have everything you need. Add a half teaspoon of pepper to the mayonnaise for flavor. spiced with ground chipotle Weir, Kansas native Courtney Stultz
Tomatillo Relish Exps45372 Thraa2874593b01 31 1bc Rms 2
The tomatillo plant in my backyard is doing fantastic. I decided to make a relish out of the surplus vegetables and fruits. Eggs, hot dogs, meat loaf, and burgers are just some of the foods that would benefit from this condiment's addition. The flavor is highly palatable. Foley, Minnesota's Deb LaBosco
Familiar flavors
I created this chorizo burger for my new boyfriend and his family for our first meeting Obviously, they were smitten with the dish, and I was smitten with them. These patties pair well with store-bought plantain chips or a spicy potato salad. By Vivian Taylor, Middleburg, Florida
Traditions and Flavors from Back Home
I needed to make use of the tomatillos in my fridge, but I was aiming for something fancier than salsa verde. To make chicken tomatillo soup, I combined two of my go-to recipes and gave each my own spin. Spice it up with some cayenne pepper or Tabasco sauce if you like. The Minnesotan's Apple Valley resident, Katrina Krumm
Green Tomato Salsa Exps Thjj21 145378 B02 10 7b 3
I needed a way to use up all the green tomatoes in my garden, so I came up with this salsa recipe. (Tucson, Arizona) Vanessa Moon
Domestic Flavors
One surefire way to get people salivating is to prepare a pork braise. The tomatillos add a touch of brightness to the dish's meat. When reheated, the dish's flavor is maximized if it is prepared a day in advance. Matthew Lawrence LaBoucherie of Vashon, Washington
Domestic Flavors
Adding greens to a bowl of chilled soup makes it suitable for fork consumption. The level of heat in this salad can be adjusted by adding more or less hot sauce. To: Donna Marie Ryan, Topsfield, MA
Comfort Food
While in Cuernavaca, Mexico, my husband and I had huevos rancheros, and he loved it so much that he insisted I make it for him when we got home. My adaptation is for the sunny-side-up eggs my family enjoys, but poached or scrambled eggs would work just as well. Cheryl Woodson, Liberty, Missouri
Tomatillo Salsa Exps89262 Rds2930098d03 26 3bc Rms 11
Take a risk and try this tomatillo-based alternative to traditional salsa for a tasty and addicting change of pace. Whether eaten on its own with tortilla chips or as a condiment with a variety of meats, it is delicious. Wausau, Wisconsin's Lori Kostecki
Shredded Pork Burritos Exps Scmbz18 44993 B01 17 5b 6
Tender, shredded pork is made by slow cooking a pork roast with sweet and savory ingredients, including a can of cola, to make pork burritos. The pork is topped with a tomatillo sauce that tastes out of this world and can be made quickly with a dressing mix. Centerville, Utah's Katherine Nelson
Traditional Flavors
I wanted to take advantage of the smoky, roasted flavor that grilling imparts, so I made a salsa out of grilled vegetables. In my opinion, plum tomatoes would also be a fantastic addition to this dish. Salsa would benefit from the addition of liquid smoke during cooking, especially if wood chip charcoal is unavailable. Hermiston, Oregon's Shelly Bevington
Green Chili Posole Exps Thedsc19 197423 B02 08 1b 5
The recipe you see before you is a mash-up of those taught to me by my nanny and my mom when I was a kid. In my opinion, queso fresco, which is served as a garnish, is the icing on the cake. —Jamie Love, from Sin City
Zucchini Salsa Verde Exps123611 Th1999637c03 30 2bc Rms 4
A perfect blend of sweetness and heat, this green salsa is unparalleled. Provo, Utah resident Donna Kelly

Date of First Publication: August 3, 2021

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