I've been making marmalade all day - and there's the prospect of several more days of that to come, which is not an enticing prospect. Anyway not wanting to dip out completely I thought I would just do this quickie post on the tomatillo.
My sister mentioned the other day that she was serving her dinner with tomatillos. What on earth are they thought I? Now she is an excellent cook, but not really into trends and fads, but she is a passionate gardener, so I should have realised that she had grown them.
So what are they and can we get them here and anyway is it worth the bother?
Well they are not little tomatoes. They are actually related to kiwi fruit and are members of the nightshade family. They come from Central and South America, most notably Mexico which grows most of the world's commercial crop - well it's a vital ingredient of their Salsa Verde. So if you are into Mexican food you should probably try planting a couple of plants in your garden.
"You need two plants for pollination, which is done by insects, so if you are growing them indoors make sure the bees can get in. Three plants and you’ll eat well into autumn; four and you will be bottling into December. Five plants and you might as well start your own salsa bottling business." Alys Fowler - The Guardian (UK)
My sister grew hers from seed and I think you can get them here online. But there are some enterprising farmers here in Australia growing the crop. Wandin Yallock Farms is one such grower and according to their website you can buy their produce at various specialist kind of greengrocers around Melbourne.
Is it worth the bother? Well it seems so. Alys Fowler who I quoted above had forgotten to plant any the year she wrote her article and was regretting the fact that she had none. They are said to taste citrussy. Zingy was one word used.
"Consume it when it’s still green and the tomatillo is quite tart in taste with a flavour that can be described as something between a tomato and a plum. As the fruit ripens, the colour changes from green to yellow through to a shade of purple. And the darker it gets, the sweeter it becomes."
Mostly consumed raw in that salsa verde, although several cooks seemed to think that roasting it first enhanced the taste. But they are also used in vinaigrettes, and salads, and all sorts of stews and other dishes. I have to say they sound very interesting and you never know it might catch on.
Oh - to eat them you peel off that papery husk, wash off the slippery, sticky stuff underneath and then just slice, chop or whatever. You can find recipes on the net if you ever see one.