What the hell is a tomatillo? Is it a tomato? Nope, different plant, different flavour. Tomatillos (Tom-Ah-Tee-Ohs) are part of the Nightshade family — Nightshades include plants like tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, potatoes and even tobacco. In that way, tomatillos are related to tomatoes but you shouldn’t use them in place of each other.
Tomatillos originated in the Americas and are hugely popular in Mexico, being the key ingredient in salsa verde. The fruits are covered in a papery husk. Peel this away to reveal a small green-tomato-looking fruit. There is a sticky residue on the skin which can be washed off with water. You can eat tomatillos raw or cooked, they taste kind of like an unripe plum with the texture of green tomato, slightly sweet, slightly tart, very juicy and citrusy. To get the best out of them, roast them under an oven grill and make a salsa verde. Or eat them raw, chopped in a fresh relish served with steak. They are also high in pectin, the stuff that makes jams thick, so they make a really good jam.
Tomatillos, like tomatoes, are in season through summer in June/July until it starts getting too cold around October. It’s availability and it’s tangy citrus flavour makes them a great summer fruit to add to dishes. They are also available year-round in canned form but fresh is always best.
Try these recipes with Tomatillos.