Tomatillos are perhaps one of my favorite and most prized fruits. They're not only fun to grow (as they are incredibly beautiful plants) but they are rich in flavor and yummy to eat.
This native of Mexico, which is much like a tomato, dates back to at least 800 B.C. and has for a long time been cultivated there, but has never really caught on elsewhere. For a plant which is so rich in flavor, productive and easy to grow, this is surprising. In Mexican cuisine the tomatillo is important, replacing tomatoes which have come to be used in their place in other countries, particularly in salsa or other sauces for meat. I love how they impart a unique tanginess which tomatoes never quite attain.
The tomatillo is a member of the Solanaceae family (the nightshades: tomato, potato, eggplant, etc.) and should be taken into account for your crop rotation plan. Physalis ixocarpa and phladelphica are the most common varieties grown but there are several. Most nurseries sell Physalis ixocara as the principal Tomatillo species. But, you can find many varieties of seeds which may include large yellow or green fruits as well small purple ones.
If you have never grown tomatillos before just remember that they are sun loving, warm weather crops and love the heat. You'll want to choose a site that gets full sun and has well-drained soil that’s not too rich. A pH reading that’s close to neutral (7.0) is good for them. Simply water and feed while fruits are forming. I pick my tomatillos as soon as they are large enough to be useful and continue picking until frost.
So for those of us who are picking our tomatillos right now (and I say this in pure excitement!) thank goodness there are so many ways to use this abundance of fruit. I myself enjoy salsas, verdes, fried, or any where I want some tang.
Here is a simple and delicious recipe for Tomatillo Jam - Enjoy!
- 3 cups cleaned tomatillos
- 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 7 1/2 cups organic sugar, measured into separate bowl
- 1/2 teaspoon organic butter (optional)
- 2 pouches of powdered fruit pectin
- Follow basic instructions for Jam making. (cleaning jars and preparing canner)
- Finely chop or grind tomatillos. Measure exactly three cups into sauce pot and add lemon juice.
- Stir in sugar, add butter if desired, (this reduces foaming) and bring mixture to full rolling boil on high heat, stirring constantly.
- Stir in pectin and return to full rolling boil and boil for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim off any excess foam.
- Ladle jam quickly into clean jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe, seal and place into canner. Water must cover jam jars by at least and inch.
- Cover and bring to gentle boil. Process 10 minutes. Remove jars and allow to completely cool. After cooling, check for proper seal, if lid springs back refrigeration is necessary.
This is the perfect spread across Chili Scones or homemade Corn Tortillas.
Disclaimer - The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. You should not use the information in this article for self-diagnosis or to replace any prescriptive medication. You should consult with a health care professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem, suffer from allergies, are pregnant or nursing.
Jessica Morgan, M.H.