Tomatillos What the Heck are they Anyway?

tomatillos1Since California has a heavy Hispanic population and EVERYONE in my family loves Mexican food the tomatillo has been known to me for many years. I simply ignored it since my Mexican cooking utilized store bought sauces.

That has recently changed with my attention now going back to the family cook book. Trying to get the family favorites in some kind of form to pass along to the younger generations.

Tacos, Enchiladas, Chili Rellenos, Tortillas and Albóndigas soup all favorites. Even Menudo with tripe and pigs feet.

Wanting to get to the roots of some of these old time recipes … again doing everything from scratch is really fun and rewarding. Who knew my collection of cook books on EVERYTHING from soup to nuts would be so handy in my later years of life?

tomatillos5Enter stage right … so what the heck is a tomatillo and what do you do with it anyway?

Well the tomatillo (toe-ma-tea-o) hails from Mexico. It has become so popular it now grows just about everywhere in the USA and like jalapeño peppers is popular in many home gardens (certainly mine this year). This green husked fruit is a member of the nightshade family … that is kin to the tomato. The yellowish green fruit is enclosed in a brownish husk.

tomatillos6In Mexico the tomatillo is also called “tomate verde” (which means green tomato). They are a staple in Mexican cooking.

Most of us are familiar with “Salsa Verde” (green sauce) in Mexican … right?

The fruit of the tomatillo ranges in size from about an inch in diameter to the size of apricots. They are covered by a papery husk which may range from the pale green color of the fruit itself to a light grocery-bag brown. The tomatillo inside is white and meatier than a tomato. They grow to maturity inside of a husk that is NOT edible and should be removed before use.

If you have a recipe that calls for 1 pound fresh tomatillos that is equal to 1 (11-ounce) can of tomatillos.

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