Recently, my friend Margaret of A Way to Garden inquired about harvesting her first big bounty of tomatillos and turning them into salsa verde. If you grow your own tomatillos, late summer is when their papery husks start to plump up and split, signalling that they are ready for harvest. The fruit tends to ripen all at once (or very nearly), and when we spoke, I was just preparing to make up my own annual batch of sauce.
[Giveaway details can be found at the end of this post.]
This week I was a guest on Margaret Roach of A Way to Garden.com‘s radio show. We spoke at length about growing tomatillos as well as other edible crops of the same genus (Physalis). You can listen to that episode over here.
Tomatillos (Physalis ixocarpa) have only recently gained popularity as a backyard garden crop across North America and are definitely worth growing if you’re a Mexican food nut. I first learned of this tomato-like fruit on a trip to southern Mexico many years ago. At first I thought the tangy, green sauce we were served with quesadillas was made of green tomatoes, until I did some research and discovered it was a different fruit entirely. Back at home I started buying salsa verde in cans at a Latin American food store in Toronto’s Kensington Market. I honestly believed for a time that store-bought was good enough and couldn’t be improved until I grew my own and learned just how wrong I was. Like their botanical cousin the tomato (both plants are nightshade or Solanaceae family plants), tomatillos are infinitely better tasting when grown at home organically. They are sweeter, tarter, more flavourful, and complex. They are a surprise.
I spent the day harvesting some of the last vegetables from the garden and photographing them. As this was happening I prepared jars for preserving, had pots of salsa verde and apple sauce on the stove, and packed several jars full of herbed salt. It was a busy day of multi-tasking, but I don’t mind. This is some of my favourite work.
Speaking of photography: This coming Saturday I will be giving a short presentation on photographing food at the Blissdom Canada conference. Will you be attending? Please don’t hesitate to say hi if you are. Few people realize that while I love to talk and give presentations, I am crippled by shyness at conference parties and “mixers.” I can not mingle or work a room to save my life!
These aren’t the last of the tomato harvest, but it is getting very close.
I made this batch into a plain salsa and canned it for use later this winter.
See also: Tomatillo Husks
I found these scattered around one of the plots at my community garden last week. One of the gardeners left their tomatillo plants in over the winter with a few husks still on the vine and they had decayed into a lacy shell. I think they are pretty and stuck some on the ends of my pea trellis as decoration.