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Another reason to grow tomatillos: long storage, easy keepers  RSS feed

 
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Last year was my first time growing tomatillos, and I harvested a bunch the day before our first hard freeze in November. They aren't a food I really know how to use, so they sat in their husks on my countertop in a bowl ... all winter long. At room temperature.

A few weeks ago I made a small batch of marmelade and was a bit short on citrus. So after a quick Google to reassure myself I wasn't crazy, I grabbed some tomatillos from my bowl and husked them, discovering in the process that most (95% or so) looked just as fresh and good as when I picked them. (The few that had gone bad just dried up and turned black politely inside their husks.) Popped them in the marmelade, which came out good.

So yesterday I made a bigger batch of marmelade and decided to use up the last of my tomatillos. Husked them all, discarded the few bad ones, washed off the sticky stuff, and took the photo below. These have been sitting at room temperature in my kitchen for six whole months!

How come I've never seen "long storage, easy keeper" listed among the reasons to grow tomatillos? Given how hard it is to store and have fresh vegetables in winter, I would think more people would talk about this virtue!

I would readily admit that when I chopped all these up for my marmelade, they weren't as crisp or as flavorful as they were six months ago. My analogy would be an old apple that's gotten a bit wrinkled and spongy. They'd still work in a fresh salsa, but cooking with them is probably a better use at this point. But still. Six months on the countertop! Did everybody but me already know this?
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pollinator
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The two best uses I have for tomatillos are salsa verde, and chili verde.

Salsa verde:

Peel the paper husk off of about 3 or 4 pounds of tomatillos. Cut them in half and toss them into a deep pot with just a bit of water. Add salt to help them break down. Cook over low until they begin to break down and release their water -- then turn the heat up a bit. When the tomatillos are soft, use a potato masher to squash them down. If you want it absolutely smooth, use an immersion blender.

Finely chop 2 or 3 serrano chilis -- add more if you like it hotter.

Chop up 2 big white onions into small pieces. Cook just long enough for the onions to get soft -- I don't like them to turn to mush.

Turn off the heat and add a big handful of chopped cilantro. Salt and pepper to taste.

Your salsa can be used with anything you normally use salsa for -- and it should keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks. Salsa verde is bright and tangy. I love it with fish (particularly on fish tacos), pork, eggs, or just with chips.



Chili Verde:

Start with about five of strips of bacon. Chop it into small pieces and brown it over medium heat in the bottom of heavy pot. I use my #12 cast iron dutch oven. Nothing is better for slow cooking pork than a black pot.

Roughly chop a couple of white onions. When the bacon is almost done, toss the onions in with the bacon and let them cook for awhile in the fat. Pull out the onions and bacon and set aside.

Brown a big pork roast -- 3 lbs or so --- by putting it into the dutch oven and searing it on all sides in the bacon fat. Once its brown on all sides, you can add your tomatillos.

Peel the paper husk and chop up about 15 tomatillos. More if you like. Toss them into the black pot with the pork.

Roughly chop a couple of serrano chilis and add them to the party. Re-add the bacon and onion.

Add a couple of cups of chicken stock -- or water will do. Slow cook it for a couple of hours with the lid on. You can put it into a low oven if that's easier -- about 250 degrees.

When the pork pulls apart easily with two forks, it's done. About 2 hours -- maybe a bit more. Salt and pepper to taste. Pork always needs a good helping of salt.

You can serve this in a burrito, over rice, with eggs, with potatoes . . . heck, I'd eat it in a shoe.


Because tomatillos are high in acid, they can easily.
 
Dan Boone
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Marco, thanks! I am growing a lot more tomatillos this year (if all goes well) and a salsa verde recipe was on my list of things to figure out. The chile verde recipe I won't be using until I get my health completely sorted out -- currently I am not eating meat so I can't use it. It sure sounds tasty though!

 
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In my garden tomatillos are an aggressive volunteer. If you let some of the fruit fall to the ground it readily self seeds. This year I have close to 100 plants only 5-6 of which I planted. I just weed out the slower growing ones.

As for eating; I use them in a variety of ways. Sliced plain or in stirfrys, diced in various mexican and italian dishes. This year I think I am going to experiment with making a tomatillo soup.
 
Marco Banks
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Dan Boone wrote:Marco, thanks! I am growing a lot more tomatillos this year (if all goes well) and a salsa verde recipe was on my list of things to figure out. The chile verde recipe I won't be using until I get my health completely sorted out -- currently I am not eating meat so I can't use it. It sure sounds tasty though!




You might experiment with vegan chili verde. What if you were to cook down your tomatillos, onions, chilis (a variety of roughly chopped green chilis -- ortega, anaheim, pablano), and then use a couple of portabello mushrooms as your meat substitute. Cook them whole in your verde sauce, and then slice them when it's done. Tacos would be great with that -- topped with a bit of cilantro, lime, a crumbly Mexican cheese, and thinly sliced raw radishes. I'd eat that all day long.
 
pollinator
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So what the heck are they? Are they like tomatoes?
 
Shawn Harper
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Todd Parr wrote:So what the heck are they? Are they like tomatoes?



They are related to tomato, but taste sweeter.
 
Dan Boone
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Some people say there's quite a bit of varietal flavor variation. The ones I've grown have been crisp and crunchy with a strong lemony flavor (like sorrel, if you've ever tasted that herb/green/weed). They are a nightshade, and they look when you pick 'em like a green tomato inside a papery husk.
 
Marco Banks
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Shawn Harper wrote:

Todd Parr wrote:So what the heck are they? Are they like tomatoes?



They are related to tomato, but taste sweeter.



Actually, they are quite tart. They have a bright, sour flavor. There is some underlying sugars/sweetness, but the tartness is front and center.

Have you ever had green salsa at a decent Mexican restaurant? Tomatillos are the primary ingredient.

When you squeeze them, they have a tomato-like feel to them: a firm skin that covers the tomato-like flesh. Off the vine, they have a thin, loose, papery husk that you peel off. The picture above is them without that husk. They aren't as juicy as a tomato: when you cut into them, the juice doesn't run out. But when you cook them down a bit, they are very full of liquid. You can eat them raw, although I don't find that enjoyable.
 
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I'm trying tomatillos this year because I love salsa verde, and I heard these self-seed easily. Anything that self-seeds and is edible is a winner in my book! I love knowing that they store so well, and a better description of their flavor. I've never actually eaten a tomatillo plain, but I love sour things (including sorrel) as well as sweet cherry tomatoes. So far, tomatillos are sounding like they should be delicious to me!
 
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are tomatillos similar to cherry tomatoes in terms of flavour and hardiness?
 
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I always thought they were a small tomatoes. I don't like tomatoes and I don't eat anything with tomato in it. Now that I've researched it, it's clear that they are not tomatoes and are closely related two others that are worth trying.

I've always seen them advertised as husk tomato.

Here's another that's worth trying. It's not a tomato either.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physalis_peruviana
 
nikos pappas
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so they are cousins with tomatoes
 
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so they are cousins with tomatoes


Yeah, sort of.

They look like a cherry tomato (once you peel off the papery husk).
The Mexicans pick them before they sweeten.
They are an important part of many green salsas.
(The under-ripe ones impart a citric like tartness to the salsa.)

Most gringos let them ripen further on the vine, which reduces the citric like tartness.

Like most cherry tomatoes, the tomatillo plants are very prolific.
A few plants will keep you in salsa for a long time.
 
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Dale Hodgins wrote:I always thought they were a small tomatoes. I don't like tomatoes and I don't eat anything with tomato in it. Now that I've researched it, it's clear that they are not tomatoes and are closely related two others that are worth trying.

I've always seen them advertised as husk tomato.

Here's another that's worth trying. It's not a tomato either.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physalis_peruviana



These look like ground cherries or I think also known as Cape Gooseberries. Smaller than tomatillos and sweet, like a small fruit. You pick when the husk goes like paper or falls off the plant.
Tomatillos are twice the size or bigger, with a very citrus tang.
 
gardener
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A member of tomatillo's genus, Physalis peruviana is my favorite tasting nightshade fruit!!! I have only grown them one year. The fruits are small (3/4"), and they weren't well adapted to my climate, and slightly too long season, thus yield was poor. But the flavor!!! Oh my!

So this year, I am doing a Physalis peruviana breeding project, and creating a landrace. Great productivity expected in about 2 or 3 years.



I love bottled tomatillo salsa. I originally started growing tomatillos, because I often look at my life and say, "What am I currently buying that I could be growing?"


 
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I just wanted to add, that some of the other members of the Physalis genus have a long shelf life as well. I grow Physalis pubescens, and I've observed that the fruit has a shelf life, in husk & at room temperature, of around a month. They may last longer than this, but I eat them before I can find out! I'm growing the variety 'Goldie'.

As Joseph said, groundcherries are so good...I'd rank them within the top 5 best tasting fruits I've ever eaten.

 
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Marco Banks wrote:

You might experiment with vegan chili verde. What if you were to cook down your tomatillos, onions, chilis (a variety of roughly chopped green chilis -- ortega, anaheim, pablano), and then use a couple of portabello mushrooms as your meat substitute. Cook them whole in your verde sauce, and then slice them when it's done. Tacos would be great with that -- topped with a bit of cilantro, lime, a crumbly Mexican cheese, and thinly sliced raw radishes. I'd eat that all day long.


Oh I love that idea! I bought portobellos to try it. (and the tomatillos etc, but I might have too many chilis) I'm going to make salsa and then use half of that to cook the mushrooms in. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! Thanks for the ideas Marco
 
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y'all gotta try tomatillo pineapple salsa:
Tomatillo puree + fresh pineapple bits & add some green chilies, garlic, cilantro, lime and hint of mint and ginger
 
Cheryl Gallion
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kay Smith wrote:y'all gotta try tomatillo pineapple salsa:
Tomatillo puree + fresh pineapple bits & add some green chilies, garlic, cilantro, lime and hint of mint and ginger


Sounds delish! Could you help me out with some quantities, I'm really bad with scale.. I still have a bunch of peppers sitting on the counter from the last batch of salsa verde I made yesterday. I had way too many chilis.
 
Cheryl Gallion
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:

I love bottled tomatillo salsa. I originally started growing tomatillos, because I often look at my life and say, "What am I currently buying that I could be growing?"




What do you use in the tomatillo salsa that you can? My friend uses a recipe that calls for bottled lime juice if you're canning and fresh if you're not. It also calls for a couple tablespoons of vinegar if you're canning. I get the vinegar but not the bottled lime juice. Could you please share your recipe with me?
I made some yesterday, but I think I used too much water to cook down the tomatillos and not enough peppers, it was also almost too sweet.
 
John Polk
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I had way too many chilis.


That's an oxymoron. There is no such thing as too many chilis. LOL

 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Cheryl:

Fully ripe tomatillos seem very sweet to me when cooked into a sauce. I typically cook them in their own juice, or in vinegar. So I don't add extra water when making tomatillo sauce.

I use the tomatillo sauce recipe from the Ball Blue Book. That's my primary resource for any bottling recipe.

2 pounds tomatillos
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped peppers (I use sweet peppers instead of hot peppers)
some spices
1/2 cup vinegar
1/4 cup lime juice


 
kay Smith
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Cheryl Gallion wrote:

kay Smith wrote:y'all gotta try tomatillo pineapple salsa:
Tomatillo puree + fresh pineapple bits & add some green chilies, garlic, cilantro, lime and hint of mint and ginger


Sounds delish! Could you help me out with some quantities, I'm really bad with scale.. I still have a bunch of peppers sitting on the counter from the last batch of salsa verde I made yesterday. I had way too many chilis.



1/4 cup puree tomatillo
1/4 cup pineapple
T GREEN chilies
T Chopped cilantro
Juice two limes
1/2 Tsp chopped mint
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp salt or to taste

I hope you like it

We have been busy going Swimming at the watering hole and making Popsicles with the left over juice from the fruit we are cutting.. This weeks favorite flavor has been watermelon lemon peach. Watermelon grapefruit Popsicles are freezing now for later!
 
Dan Boone
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I did not grow any tomatillos this year.

Yesterday my spouse asked me to clear off a table and move it for her.  On said table, I found a small bowl (personal serving size) full of tomatillo husks.  From last year. 

Out of curiosity, I squoze them.

To my surprise, among the 20 or so small tomatillos in that bowl -- most of which had rotted away in the ten months they had sat at room temperature, ignored -- I found two small tomatillos that seem completely unspoiled and fine. 

If I recall, these were volunteer fruits from a plant that grew outside my front door in 2017.  Not one I planted.  The fruits I picked at first frost in November were small.  But I am totally saving and replanting the seeds from these two.  The long-storage trait seems to me totally worth saving!
 
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