Produce of the Month: Tomatillos!

9.12.17 – Pronounced “tohm-ah-TEE-ohs,” September is the last month to search for this tart fruit. Tomatillos are also known as husk tomatoes, Mexican green tomatoes, and jam berries. Learn more about this delicious fruit in this Produce of the Month blogpost. 

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Photo courtesy of Hans Peter Meyer, Flickr

Background:
Tomatillos look like tomatoes hidden under a paper-like husk. A cousin of the tomato and the Cape gooseberry, tomatillos are known by a variety of names, including husk tomatoes, jam berries and Mexican green tomatoes. If you peel back the husk you will find a firm, slightly sticky fruit. Tomatillos can be found much of the year, but their main season generally ranges from May through October which means August is a perfect time to look for these little gems. Allowed to mature, the vivid green shade might shift to yellow, red and even purple. Green tomatillos usually have a slightly tart flavor, though other colors can be sweet enough to be used in jams. Nutritionally, tomatillos are low in calories and rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, niacin, potassium, manganese, and healthy omega 6 fatty acids.

History:

Tomatillos are  members of the nightshade family, along with tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers.This fruit have been cultivated for millennia and were a staple food in ancient Mayan and Aztec communities. In fact, the Aztecs are credited with domesticating the tomatillo. They grow throughout the Western Hemisphere, and are a popular staple food in Mexico, where they are often called “tomato verde” or “green tomatoes” (not to be confused with American “green tomatoes,” which are simply unripe tomatoes).
Selection and Storage:
A tomatillos husk is a good indicator of its ripeness. Select tomatillos that have an intact, tight-fitting, light brown or slightly green husk. Fresh tomatillos with their husks still intact may be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. They are best stored in a paper bag. Tomatillos last a week longer in the refrigerator if the husks are removed and the fruit is placed in sealed plastic bags. Tomatillos may also be frozen after removing the husks.

Recipe:

avocado-tomatillo-salsa-626x415

Avocado and Tomatillo Salsa
Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free

Ingredients:
-2 large, 3 medium, or 6 small tomatillos, husked
-4 cloves garlic, skin on
-1 jalapeño pepper (more or less, depending on preference and heat level)
-1 shallot, peeled
-1 Hass avocado, pitted and scooped
-Juice of 2 limes
-1 bunch cilantro
-1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
-1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:
1. Put a small skillet over medium high heat. Without using any oil, add the tomatillos, garlic, jalapeño and shallot and dry roast, turning occasionally, until there are many black spots on the vegetables, about 5 minutes.
2. Put the tomatillos and shallot in your blender jar. Peel the garlic and add it to the blender. Halve, seed, and stem the jalapeño and add it to the blender.

3. Add the avocado, lime juice, cilantro, cumin, and salt. Process on high speed until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning – it may need more lime juice or salt. If it needs more heat, judiciously add cayenne or any chili powder you prefer.

References:
http://www.foodreference.com/html/art-tomatillo.html
http://americanhistory.si.edu/blog/2012/09/the-tomatillo-tohm-ah-tee-oh.html
http://herbivoracious.com/2012/09/avocado-and-tomatillo-salsa-recipe.html

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