Sunday, September 4, 2011

Tomatillo Notes

Tomatillos are a particularly nice summer treat.  They are a component of many dishes in Mexican cuisine from salsas to soups and grow really nicely in my garden.  Even so, the information available on growing and harvesting these beauties is pretty sparse, so here is my contribution to the growers compendium.
Tomatillos are a member of the nightshade family and are a firm green fruit with a sticky coating surrounded by a papery husk.
They require some cross pollination so 2 plants are required to guarantee fruit.
Tomatillos grow nicely in the same locations as tomatoes- ample sun, well drained soil.  They can sprawl somewhat but staking and support will give the plant some nice structure.
You know a tomatillo is ripe when it mostly fills the paper surrounding it.  Before cooking, the husks need to be removed and the sticky coating rinsed in water.
They can be cut up and made into a fresh blended salsa with jalapenos, garlic, salt and cilantro; can be added to fresh tomato salsas, or...
Roasted with onions and jalapenos then blended with cilantro, salt, and lime juice for one of my favorite salsas on the planet.
Here, roasted tomatillo salsa served over squash blossom quesadilla with pico de gallo and grilled corn.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
1 lb tomatillos, papers removed and rinsed
1/2 white onion, cut into quarters
2-3 jalapenos
handful of cilantro leaves
juice of 1/2 lime
salt to taste
water to thin as needed

 In a 400 degree oven or over a hot grill, roast tomatillos, onions, and peppers until tomatillos and peppers are soft.
Remove tops of peppers and seed if less heat desired.
Add tomatillos, onions, peppers, cilantro, lime juice to blender and process until thick but not chunky.
Add salt to taste and thin with small amount of water if desired.


Cathy said...

Questions about needing cross-pollination for tomatillos:
I only had one plant last season, but harvested so many tomatillos that I'm still trying to find ways to use them up. Could that have been a hybrid that didn't require cross-pollination? If I plant two next season, would both produce fruit? Any chance my one plant was cross-pollinated by the wild cousins that grow in my yard? (Not sure what they are called - ground cherries, maybe? - but they are obviously related to tomatillos.) Thanks for any info you have on this bountiful plant.

Johanna said...

I bet they were cross pollinated by their cousins the ground cherries. Let me know if you would like additional tomatillo recipes (we're using a lot right now). I've got a good one for a tomato tomatillo soup and another one that's really good on enchiladas.

Winter, finally (and seriously)

I planned to start this blog last spring as my garden flew into action, but then got into the actual work of gardening and abandoned the task. However, today its winter, really winter. I'm wearing long underwear and sitting under a blanket and I'm still cold.
Today is the shortest day of the year so from here on in it gets better. I look forward to longer days, that's for sure. But I'll also tuck in and enjoy winter's freeze and snow, it does mean skiing after all. Maybe more importantly is the snow pack - without snow there isn't water for the West.
The end of the year and the solstice are a good time to think back on the last 365. I have no reason to complain and feel really lucky about the last year and really hopeful about the year to come.