Tomatillos, Physalis philadelphica (formerly Physalis ixocarpa), is a member of the Solanaceae family (nightshade family) and is closely related to tomatoes, while also being related to eggplants, potatoes and chile peppers. Tomatillos originated in Mexico, where the greatest variety of wild cultivars can be found, and were domesticated in the pre-Columbian era (before 1492). The Spanish are responsible for their introduction to Europe and other parts of the world. A staple of Mexican cuisine, traditionally tomatillos are combined with chili peppers to make sauces, with the cool slightly sour flavor of the tomatillo balancing out the hot flavor of the pepper.
At our house, salsa verde is a frequently made sauce that gets plenty of use. Sometimes we roast the tomatillos, while other times we add additional jalapenos and even some Chipotle Flakes. Depending on the time of the year, we may make salsa verde several times a month (while we prefer in season tomatillos, we’ll still buy off season if they look good) or use our Tomatillo Powder.
Pronounced “toe-mah-TEE-yoh”, they’re also called the husk cherry, husk tomato, jamberry or Mexican green tomato.
The word tomatillo is derived from the Nahuatl language “tomatl”, meaning something "round and plump". The Aztec word for tomato is “xitomatl” and the husk tomato (tomatillo) was called “miltomatl”. In many areas of Mexico, the domesticated tomatillo is called “tomate” and the wild version called “miltomate” and what we know as tomato is called “jitomate”. In Mexican and Guatemalan culture, the tomatillo may be called miltomate, tomates verdes, tomates de cascara, or tomates de fresadillas.
In 2017, scientists discovered a fossilized tomatillo in the Patagonian region of Argentina, dating back some 52 million years. Patagonia is a distinct geographical region at the base of South America covering the lower sections of Argentina and Chile. On the Argentine side, it runs from the province of Rio Negro and all the way up to Tierra Del Fuego. Various archaeological findings show that its use in the diet of the Mexican population dates back to pre-Columbian times. Indeed, remains of tomatillos used as food have been found in excavations, dating back to 900 BC - 1540 AD, in the Valley of Tehuacán (bordering the states of Oaxaca and Veracruz in South Central Mexico).
Tomatillos have been cultivated for thousands of years and were a staple food in ancient Mayan and Aztec communities. The Aztecs are believed to have domesticated the tomatillo. To this day, tomatillos are a signature ingredient in the Mexican and Guatemalan diet.
In pre-Hispanic times (before the arrival of the Spanish) in Mexico, tomatillos were greatly preferred over the tomato, however, this preference is no longer as strong as it once was; except in the more rural areas where, in addition to the persistence of old eating habits, the tomatillo's greater resistance to rot is still valued.
Tomatillos, like tomatoes, are a fruit that grows on a vine, and the fruits vary in size from one inch in diameter to plum-sized. Tomatillos have an inedible husk that turns brown when ripe and the actual fruit can be a variety of color shades when ripe including yellow, red, green or even purple. When buying tomatillos, go for the smaller ones because they’re usually a bit sweeter than the larger ones. Individual plants may produce 64 to 200 individual fruits in a season. The outer husk should be light brown and not shriveled to indicate that it is fresh.
The tomatillo or husk-tomato is grown mainly on irrigated land. Because of this, sowing dates vary within each producing area, which explains why these are found on the market throughout the year. Wild tomatillos found in cultivated fields adapt to various environments, and it appears most commonly on parts of land where vegetable waste is concentrated and burned after clearance. This tendency may be due to enrichment of the soil with the ash, the effect of which is to stimulate high temperatures in the seeds.
In the spring, when the danger of frost is no longer at hand, plant tomatillos in full sun and in rich organic soil. Provide a supporting structure like a tomato cage as they grows. A ripe tomatillo looks and feels much like an un-ripened tomato -- typically firm, with a green and/or yellow hue. You want to harvest your tomatillos when the husk has not browned and the fruit is still firm to the touch.
Wild tomatillo plants in Mexico flower from June to October. The plants bear fruit during the summer months in South Africa, and in both summer and winter growing seasons in northern India. In the Midwest region of the US, flowering begins in mid-June and fruits start to ripen in late July and continues until fall frosts.
The plant has been exported around the world, and in the 1950s tomatillos were exported to India, where they have since been cultivated in Rajasthan (a northern Indian state bordering Pakistan). Theyre also grown and processed in Queensland (Australia), Polokwane (South Africa), Kenya and the US.
Our tomatillos are grown in Mexico.
The tomatillo has been a key ingredient of the Mexican and Guatemalan diet for hundreds of years, primarily in sauces prepared with its fruit and ground chiles to improve the flavor of meals and stimulate the appetite. They’re also quite popular in Southwestern US cuisine.
The fruit of the tomatillo is used raw or cooked to prepare purees, added to minced meat dishes, rice, salsas, jams, marmalades, sauces for meats, to tenderize red meat or added to various stews. They’re frequently used as a base for chili sauces known generically as salsa verde (green sauce). An infusion of the calyces (husks) is added to tamale dough or fritters to improve its spongy consistency. The tomatillo is also used in sauces with fresh green chiles, mainly to balance its hot flavor.
The tomatillo's flavor is enhanced by roasting or cooking.
Our Tomatillo Powder is also an excellent choice to be added to Mexican soups and stews when you’re looking to add light tomatillo tangy flavor and we’ve even used it in chili for an unexpected almost mysterious flavor.
Tomatillo powder complements chiles, cilantro, cumin, garlic, ginger, onions and turmeric.
The flavor profile of the Tomatillo is acidic, lemony, tangy, tart a bit sour with a hay-like aroma.
THIS IS THE HIGHEST QUALITY YOU CAN GET! GREAT FLAVOR AND AROMA WILL KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF.
INTERNATIONAL CUSTOMERS: Shipping charges vary from country to country so I just picked one of the highest. I will refund any shipping charges above actual charges to your location.
Payment is appreciated at time of purchase. I accept Paypal, Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express.
Check or money order welcome - order will be shipped 10 days after receipt of check/money order to allow check or money order to clear bank.
Even though we say that we ship in 1-2 weeks, in most instances we try to ship within 5-7 business days. All orders will be shipped via USPS with Delivery Confirmation or FedEx.
Just contact me within: 14 days of delivery
Ship items back to me within: 30 days of delivery
But please contact me if you have any problems with your order.
Because of the nature of these items, unless they arrive damaged or defective, I can't accept returns for:
If you are unhappy for any reason, please contact me (Marty) at 702-370-0035. Since most of our items are classified as food items, we can only do returns if we mistakenly sent the wrong item.
Buyer pays for shipping to return items to Ye Olde Spice Guy.
We will not issue refunds on any items once an order is placed.
Orders from INTERNATIONAL SHOPPERS:
Any customs fees will be paid by the customer.
Please allow up to 4-6 weeks for your order to arrive. Thank you for your patience. If it has been past this time frame, please contact me and I will be glad to work with your to resolve the issue.
IMPORTANT! By purchasing items from Ye Olde Spice Guy you accept all terms and policies.