I love Mexican food. Tomasina Myer’s book was a must have Christmas present in 2010.
I’d buy these husk covered green fruits at roadside stalls in SoCal along with crates of juicing oranges and globe artichokes. Despite being ubiquitous and relatively cheap to buy I never mastered the art of cooking whole chokes though.
As you can imagine tomatillos were not easily available in the UK and I missed their tart flavour in a Mexican salsa verde served with grilled pork or as a nacho dip.
I found a few online delis that sold tinned ones. I could have used them in salsa, which is usually made with either pureed raw or cooked tomatillos, however I thought the canning process made them a little too soft. But they were an ideal solution for my Chili Verde.
Visiting Borough Market once I stumbled upon one stall selling fresh ones. A rare treat! I couldn’t resist buying a big bag full. But regular food shopping trips from Wales to London was not on the cards.
An Ideal Hydroponic Crop?
After all it’s just a green tomato right?
Tomatillos (Physalis philadephica), like their cousin, the tomato, are part of the nightshade (Solanceae) family. Tomatoes are easy to grow, so would they be too? One problem. The local garden centres didn’t sell tomatillo plants. I’d have to grow them from seed. But where to get the seed? Where else? Online!
Last year they grew in the greenhouse. They grew prolifically. They were tall and spindly and needed support to protect the ripening fruit. This year, with their red relatives, they grow hydroponically. They are prolific. They grow tall. Their stalks are thicker, stronger. Support is still needed as I wait for the fruit to ripen.
At least two plants are needed for the papery lanterns to set with fruit. I’m currently growing four. – two Tomatillo Dr Wyches Yellow and two Tomatillo Verde.
The extra seedlings I planted are in the traditional tunnel and they’re growing just as they did in the greenhouse last year.
As the madness of the growing garden subsides, I will have time to develop my recipes. For now here are the building blocks for Chile Verde. Feel free to play!
Green & Red Chilis
Parsley (cilantro wasn’t ready yet)
Dried Oregano or Fresh