T is for Tomatillo

Yes, tomatillo, pronounced “tomatiyo”. They are a bit novel and interesting. Fortunately our local hardware “green shed” occasionally stocks a small shelf of Diggers’ heirloom and organic seedlings. I was getting some capsicum and eggplant seedlings earlier in the season, when I saw these funny new little plants on the shelf. There were only three – so I took all of them. Might as well experiment a bit, extend the taste horizons, I thought at the time.

According to Wikipedia, tomatillo (Physalis philadelphica and Physalis ixocarpa), also known as the Mexican husk tomato, is a plant of the nightshade family bearing small, spherical and green or green-purple fruit of the same name. Tomatillos originated in Mexico and were cultivated in the pre-Columbian era.  A staple of Mexican cuisine, they are eaten raw or cooked in a variety of dishes, particularly salsa verde.

Tomatio - plant

We had one of those really strong summer winds just after I planted the little seedlings. The one plant’s stem snapped and it toppled over. I just left it in the ground to let nature take its course. It’s amazing how the wound healed itself and pulled the plant upright again. It bore just as well as the other two.

When the tomatillos started bearing fruit they looked more like a cape gooseberry (with the fruit inside the little lantern casing) than anything tomato-like. However, when you open the fruit, it looks like a green cherry tomato, with the little pips inside, but it has a much more tart and a slightly spicy taste.

First batch

Tomatio - prep

Relish preparation

From our first batch, Patricia made a garlic, onion and tomatillo relish. A nice spicy taste, which went well with the polenta and barbecue we enjoyed it with!

Tomatillo relish

Second batch

Tomatio - chutney preparation

Chutney preparation

From the second batch, she made chutney, using tomatillo, feijoa, left-over green tomatoes, left-over baby onions, galangal, honey, vinegar and various spices.

Tomatio - chutney

Tomatillo (and other left-overs) chutney

Well, we should definitely try and save a handful of seeds from the left-over fruits. I’m sure we can try a few more than three little plants next season.


About martin@muchmoremulch.blog (207 Articles)
My name is Martin Rennhackkamp, I now live happily in Lara, Victoria, Australia with my wife, two children and two dogs. My interests, apart from the obvious Organic, Biodynamic and Permaculture Gardening and Farming, include sustainable living, surfing, horse-riding, a wide variety of music, dancing, nature, birds, reading, Christianity and a few other things which I never get to...

3 Comments on T is for Tomatillo

  1. I’m intrigued. I heard about these fruit a few years ago but have yet to see any in Britain.

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. T is for Tomatillo – World Organic News
  2. F is for Feijoa – Our pursuit of real living

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