Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Tomatillos

We thawed out a jar of Matt’s tomatillo salsa for oofta taco night.  It made me realize that I never really said much about our first year experiment in tomatillo growing. 

Matt’s brother, Ryan, has grown them in years past.  They always seemed like a pretty unusual, fun crop and Matt likes to grow things that are unusual.  Ryan made such outstanding salsa with his 2012 crop that Matt decided he wanted to give it a try last year. 
Tomatillos are, in my opinion, a tremendously interesting plant.  Looking somewhat similar to a tomato plant they can get pretty darn big—Ryan once grew one that must have been eight feet or more in height and probably five feet across.  Ours were planted pretty close together and so didn’t quite attain this stature. 

Their blossoms are strikingly beautiful and the bees seem to love them.  The more bees in the garden the better, I say.  That is almost reason enough to grow them.  

The fruits looked like hard, green tomatoes and they grow inside of the most magical little, gauzy, lantern-shaped, papery shell.  That is probably my favorite part.  They look so neat while they grow—like a tomato plant covered in paper lanterns each containing a growing fruit.
They are a little bit labor intensive, I suppose.  Once harvested the tomatillos must first be removed from their little lanterns.  Then each one must be wiped off as they are coated in a remarkably sticky residue.  It’s really bizarre, fascinating stuff.  It is so sticky, in fact, that when Matt put them in the dish that goes on our kitchen scale they stuck to the bottom--even when the dish was turned completely upside down.  Adding to the strangeness the residue is also almost soapy when combined with water.  While washing off a basketful Matt noted that when he rinsed out his wash rag the water that came out was sudsy.  It’s just bizarre.
Matt made a few different batches of tomatillo salsa, but the recipe still needs a little perfecting before I am ready to share it—maybe after a few more batches.  The tomatillos are surprisingly sweet and since they are so firm it makes for nice, thick salsa—not watery at all.

We’ll certainly be growing them again this summer.  I think this year we’re going to try to grow purple tomatillos, too.  Even more fun and unusual!

2 comments:

  1. Just had enchiladas last night with homemade green sauce using tomatillos, garlic, lime, onions, and cilantro. Plus some spicy pepper for heat as desired. Loved it! I never really knew of tomatillos until the last year or two.

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    1. Yum. I don't think I even knew a tomatillo existed until Ryan started growing them. Now I see them at Albertsons. It makes me wonder if I just wasn't paying attention or if tomatillos are getting more popular.

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