tomatillos

Tomatillos

Tomatillos must be related to the husk cherry, as they look similar. The fruit is encased in a papery husk, and the fruit is more sweet than average tomatoes.

They are native to Mexico and domesticated by the Aztecs around 800 BC. Physalis ixocarpa is commonly old and has large, up to 2 1/2 inch diameter, fruit. They start green and ripen to pale yellow. P. philadelphica produces sweeter, marble purple fruits.
Tomatillos like hot, well-drained spots with full sun. They are lighter feeders than tomatoes. Raised beds are great for tomatillos, especially if you have clay soil like mine.
Start tomatillos inside 6-8 weeks before the last frost. Harden off before transplanting. This means to climatize the plants to the new conditions by slowly adapting them. You should put a fan on them when they are young seedlings so they can feel something like wind. You can also vary the temperature somewhat when they are young, so that they are not so fragile when they go outside. Lastly, place the young plants outside for a few hours a day and bring them inside before evening so that they can slowly adjust. If you place them directly outside without these steps, they will die within days of the shock.

Set outside at the same time as your tomatoes, when the ground is at least 55 degrees F. Just like tomatoes, tomatillos sprout roots along the stems. Leggy transplants can be planted very deeply, at an angled trough. The entire stem can become a very vigorous root system, which only improves the plant’s health later.
They are indeterminate, which means they sprawl. They grow about 3 to 4 feet tall and wide, so be sure to give those young transplants plenty of room. They produce lots of fruit, right up until frost. They also like to be mulched deeply, which helps to conserve moisture.
In 75 to 100 days from transplant, salsa verde! Pick the fruit when the husk splits, before they fall to the ground.

I’ll post my recipe for salsa verde soon. In the mean time, you can freeze the fruits whole, after removing the husks and washing the fruit.
Recipe for deep fried tomatillos: in three shallow bowls, place flour in one, cornmeal in another and in the third beat an egg with half a cup milk. Put halved tomatillos in the flour, the egg mixture, then in the cornmeal. Fry in oil until crisp and golden.

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