A tomatillo may resemble an unripe tomato but has its own identity. It is commonly used in Mexican recipes and brings strong flavour to sauces, meat dishes, salads, and other meals.
Tomatillo, also known as the husk tomato or cherry, is a nightshade family annual plant with peppers, potatoes, eggplant, and tomatoes. These plants, while related to tomatoes, do not bear juicy fruit.
Instead, these are small, rounded, and solid with a thick core, giving them the appearance and feel of unripe tomatoes. These are usually bright green, though some ripe them turn purple or yellow.
You can identify them by its thin, papery husk covering the fruit as it ripens to preserve it. It resembles a cape gooseberry, often regarded as a husk cherry or ground cherry.
However, these fruits would never sweeten the same as tomatoes or ground cherries, regardless of how ripe these fruits become. Yet, they have a vibrant, highly acidic flavour similar to limes but lose their acidic bite and become a bit sweeter when roasted.
First, are these safe to eat?
It is controversial, if unripe it is poisonous. And since no one can say if this is true or not, one thing is for sure, that unripe fruit tastes unpleasant as it is incredibly sour.
In any case, always fall on the side of safety and only advocate eating ripe ones. Those with split papery husk and rich green colour are what you need to look for. When they are fully ripe, their other varieties turn purple or yellow.
Like other nightshade plants, the leaves, stalks, and blossoms are inedible. Because the husks are not edible, you would want to discard them before cooking or eating this fruit.
Tips on how you will prepare them
By not removing its husk, place the fruits in a paper bag; they will survive two to three weeks in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer.
Peel away the paper husks using your fingers when you are ready to use them. Because the fruit inside may be waxy, gently scrub it with a small brush under cool running water and ensure no husk is left.
In what recipes can you use the tomatillo?
Because tomatillo is local to Central America and Mexico, Mexicans frequently use them in their cuisine. Tomatillo uses are diverse; the sour flavour of this fruit is most noticeable when eaten uncooked. However, it is excellent when mixed with chillies and salsa verde. It can also be thinly sliced and substituted for lemon juice in salads or as a garnish for meat recipes.
Its flavour softens and tastes sweet when cooked. To deepen and intensify the flavour of salsa, you can try broiling, grilling, or roasting it in the oven. You can use them to make soups like chicken tomatillo soup or pozole verde.
They can also go well with braised pork, enchiladas, and casseroles; you only need to chop them. Do not forget to mix them with avocado and buttermilk for a delicious salad dressing. And, of course, you can always try different uses for more delicious recipes.
Incorporating this fruit into your recipes will result in a flavourful and healthy meal for the whole family. It contains manganese, potassium, niacin, is rich in antioxidants, and has diety fibre. You may purchase them at your local supermarket or Mexican grocery store.