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6202 Walkers Line,
Burlington, ON

Tomatillos at Hutchinson Farm
Photo: Purple Tomatillos, David MacTavish, Hutchinson Farm, Burlington, ON, September 2nd, 2010

Grown at Hutchinson Farm since 2003. Available late July to early October.

Physalis philadelphica

Tomatillos are cousins of the tomato, and you grow them just like tomatoes. They look like big sprawling "potato leaf" tomato plants in the field, and the tomatillos themselves look like small green tomatoes covered with a papery husk. Their flavour is hard to describe. Eaten raw, they are refreshing and crisp, kind of like a granny-smith apple. When cooked, kind of a nutty-lemon sweet taste. Either way, they are yummy. (BTW, the "double 'L' in Spanish is pronounced like a 'Y', so we say, "toe-ma-tee-oh" -no more rhyming with armadillo, okay?)
  • In season
    Late July to early October.

  • Purchasing tips
    The tomatillos should be firm with green husks. The husks should be split open with the tomatillo poking through.

  • Storing at home
    Keep in the refrigerator -they keep a long time, 4 weeks or longer.

  • Cultivars
    San Juanito: Our standard variety
    Dr. Wyche’s Yellow: (yellowish with purple blush)
    Purple De Milpa: (small, sharp flavour)
    Purple: (very similar to above)
    Note: the purple colour disappears with cooking

  • Preserve
    Remove husk, wash, and freeze in freezer bags.

  • Classic Uses
    Before using tomatillos, remove the husk, and rinse off the "sticky"

    Head down south to Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico, and you'll discover that salsas made with tomatillos are just as common, if not more common than the "salsa frescas" made with red tomatoes, that are common place here in Ontario. Salsa Verde is the classic use of tomatillos, also soups and stews. They're great fresh too, in salads, etc.

  • Favourite Recipes

    Salsa Verde (Wendy's Method)

    1 clove garlic
    1 medium onion
    1 quart tomatillos
    1-3 serrano or jalapeño peppers
    ¼ cup fresh cilantro
    ½ fresh juice of a lime

    Place all ingredients except lime and cilantro on a cookie sheet under the broiler until the tomatillos are soft, leaking juice, and have just begun to blacken. Puree in a food processor until mostly smooth, then add lime and cilantro. Super easy-- great caramelized flavour.

    David's colourful variation: Use red jalapeños instead of serranos. After broiling, cut jalapeños in half and scrape out the seeds. Add the jalapeños to the salsa after everything else has been puréed, and pulse until the jalapeños are small red flecks, then add lime and cilantro.

    Great with tortilla chips, or combined with cooked chicken to fill chicken enchiladas!
    Keeps three days in refrigerator, freezes well.

    Tomatillo Squash Soup (original Moosewood version)
    Tomatillo Squash Soup
    This recipe makes a lot of soup (serves 8-10), reheats perfectly.

    18 fresh tomatillos (about 2 pounds)
    4 - 5 cups chopped onions
    8 garlic cloves chopped
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    6 cups peeled and cubed winter squash
    6 cups vegetable stock
    3 cups chopped tomatoes
    1 - 2 teaspoons minced chipotles in adobo sauce
    salt and pepper to taste

    sour cream
    chopped fresh cilantro
    avacado cubes
    crumbled tortilla chips

    Preheat the oven to 450°
    Remove and discard the husks of the fresh tomatillos. Rinse the tomatillos, cut them in half, and place them cut-side up in a single layer in a shallow baking dish. Roast for 30 - 35 minutes, until soft.

    Meanwhile, in a soup pot, cook the onions in the olive oil on medium heat, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes, until golden. Add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes, until fragrant. Stir in the squash, stock, and the tomatoes with their juice, cover, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 to 25 minutes, until the squash is quite tender. Add the chipotles and the roasted tomatillos.

    In a blender, purée the soup in several batches and return to the pot. Add salt, pepper, and more chipotles to taste, and gently reheat if needed.

    Serve hot, with some or all of the toppings.

    More recipes to come, please share yours!