Tomatillos: A Tart Treasure


Let’s dive into the vibrant world of tomatillos, those little green wonders that add a burst of tangy flavour to our favourite salsas and dishes.

What Are Tomatillos?

Tomatillos, also known as "husk tomatoes," are small, round fruits encased in a papery husk. These green beauties are often mistaken for unripe tomatoes, but they belong to a different plant family entirely. When you peel away their husk, you reveal a firm, glossy green fruit that’s ready to bring its unique tartness to your plate.

A Brief History

Tomatillos have a rich history that dates back to ancient Mesoamerica. They were cultivated by the Aztecs and Mayans long before the Spanish conquest. The name "tomatillo" comes from the Nahuatl word "tomatl," which means "something round and plump." These fruits were a staple in ancient Mexican cuisine and continue to play a significant role in the culinary traditions of Latin America.

Where They’re Grown

Today, tomatillos are primarily grown in Mexico and the United States, especially in California and Texas. They thrive in warm climates with plenty of sunlight. These hardy plants are also grown in other parts of the world, including Australia, where they’ve started to make a splash among local farmers and gardeners. The growing interest in diverse and global cuisine has helped tomatillos find a new home down under.

How to Prepare Tomatillos

Preparing tomatillos is super easy and fun:

  1. Peel Away the Husk: Remove the papery husk and rinse the sticky residue off the fruit.
  2. Chop, Slice, or Dice: Depending on your recipe, you can chop, slice, or dice them.
  3. Enjoy Raw or Cooked: Tomatillos can be eaten raw for a bright, tangy crunch in salads and salsas, or cooked to mellow their tartness in sauces and stews.

Availability in Australia

Good news for Aussie foodies: tomatillos are increasingly available in Australia! You can find them at specialty grocers, farmers’ markets, and even some larger supermarkets. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also grow your own tomatillos at home. They’re relatively easy to cultivate, requiring similar care to tomatoes but with the added charm of those quirky husks.

Fun Fact

Did you know that tomatillos are a key ingredient in the famous green salsa, Salsa Verde? Their tart flavour pairs perfectly with chilies, onions, and cilantro to create a refreshing dip that’s perfect for any occasion.