Friday, September 2, 2011

Tomatillos-Just Another Tomato

Peeling Tomatillos 

Fig.1. Tomatillos with thier husks on at the Birri Kiosk in The Jean Talon Market.

Tomatillos are fruits associated with tomatoes, and like tomatoes, are part of the nightshade family.  They can be eaten both raw and cooked.  The fruit is surrounded by a thin husk that begins to split open as the green fruit ripens.  The taste of a tomatillo is acidic, tart and full flavored; a mouthful can leave you with puckered lips. 
Tomatillos are an integral part of Mexican and Indian cuisine.  In Mexico (as well as most of Central America) tomatillos are used in most green sauces and are poured over tacos, fish, and all types of meat.  In India, tomatillos are used in chutneys. 
I like to make sauce with tomatillos, which I then preserve.  There’s a lot of natural pectin in tomatillos, which helps the sauce thicken.  Birri sells tomatillos in small bushels.  Look for fat ones, the husks should look like they’re two sizes too small for the fruit.  I look for the ones that remind me of Danny Devito. 

Tomatillo Sauce
Fills about 6 small mason jars

This sauce can be used on everything from beef to fish.  It can also be added to guacamole.  When you remove the husk, you’ll notice that the tomatillo has a slight, slimy texture to it, this is normal and does not need to be washed or scrubbed off.  They are also good raw.


1 small bushel of tomatillos, halved
3 jalape├▒o peppers, seeds removed and chopped
5 medium plum tomatoes, halved


Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper and bake the tomatillos, peppers and tomatoes in a preheated 375 degree oven.  Bake until outer part of the fruit begins to brown, about 25 to 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Add all of the fruit (in batches) to a blender and puree until just broken up. (If you like your sauce finer, puree longer.)  Pour all of the pureed sauce into a large pot and bring to a boil.  Let it simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes and then fill your hot mason jars (I like to put my Mason Jars into the oven until they’re just hot but not too hot.) Seal the jars immediately and cover jars with a kitchen towel.  After a few hours, verify the jars to make certain they all sealed.  If some of the jars have not “pop”, submerge them into a water bath, and, using the canning method, boil water until jar seals 

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