What Are Tomatillos?

What are tomatillos and when are tomatillos ripe? We will clarify these questions for you – and tell you the most important things about the taste, origin, and use of berries in the kitchen.

Things to know about tomatillos

Tomatillos are small fruits with a diameter of about 10 cm, which are stuck in a paper-like shell and are usually green (also purple or yellow depending on the variety). They are relatives of the physalis, but look more like unripe tomatoes – and are therefore also known as Mexican green tomatoes. The tomatillo plant, which belongs to the warmth-loving nightshade family, comes from Central America, where the fruit is enjoyed like a vegetable. Tomatillos are also a classic and delicious ingredient in Mexican cuisine. Contrary to the similar-sounding name, they do not belong to the tomatoes – you can find out more about them in the article “Tomatoes: Varieties, kitchen tips, and recipe ideas”.

Purchasing and storage

There are different varieties of tomatillo. The unripe harvested tomatillo verde, which is characterized by flat-round fruits and a green color, is widespread. There are also red and purple varieties that taste comparatively sweeter. When shopping, make sure that the skin still completely covers the fruit and is dry. Wilted skins and dark spots on the surface indicate spoilage. Fresh specimens will keep for about a week, or longer in the fridge. Peeled and sliced, the fruit can also be frozen. You can also buy canned whole tomatillos.

Cooking tips for tomatillos

The taste of fresh green tomatillos is very acidic, which is why eating the fruit raw is not recommended. Process tomatillos better by boiling them or roasting them for an extra intense flavor. Typical uses in Mexican cuisine are salsas, for which tomatillos verdes are often used. They give the sauces an intense color and refine the flavor by balancing out the spiciness of the chilies. In our recipe for tomato and pepper salsa, you can also use the fruit as a flavorful counterpoint to the pepperoni. Otherwise, the tomatillo can be used well in vegetable pans and casseroles, salads, stews, and chutneys – just let our tomato recipes inspire you. For desserts and jams, on the other hand, ripe or reddish fruits with a taste reminiscent of gooseberries are ideal. The mature variants have a slightly yellowish color.

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