Ripe tomatillos

I bought tomatillos at the Dexter farmers’ market today to make tomatillo salsa. They were much more yellow than the ones I’d picked at home last week, and I was wondering if I’d picked mine too early or if these were actually over-ripe. I was contemplating all this as I was driving toward the Ann Arbor market (ok, I was being a market-hopping geek…) when I got an idea.

I would ask Pilar. {EDIT – whoops…her name is Silvia; she named Pilar’s Tamales after her aunt.}

Pilar makes really wonderful tamales and sells them at the market on Saturdays. They’re my very favorite market breakfast. While some folks want their latte and a bun, I want one of Pilar’s pork tamales, piping hot and smothered in red sauce. Who would know better about the ripeness of tomatillos than a Salvadoran chef?

So when I got out of the car, I took a really yellow and a really green tomatillo with me. As I waited for my tamale, I asked Pilar about them. Apparently, both are perfectly edible. She uses both when making salsa. She did say that you really have to cook tomatillo salsa – otherwise, it tastes very strong and almost soapy. I hadn’t noticed that with my raw salsa, but then, I had washed the sticky tomatillos quite well.

I made salsa with the tomatillos-of-varying-ripeness when I got home, and I have to say, I was a little disappointed. As they ripen, they get sweeter – and I do like the tang of the less-ripe ones. I added a handful of purslane for a little more green and tang, and some cilantro, as well. It was good, but it didn’t knock my socks off the way the previous batch did. I think I’ll pick my own tomatillos a little under-ripe.

Oh – and I found a really easy way to peel tomatillos, even when the sticky fruit fills the papery husk. Hold it around the “equator” in your left fingers with the stem pointing in toward the palm of your hand. Squeeze the husk toward the stem end, and you’ll end up with the husk bunched around the stem. With your right hand, twist the fruit off the stem. Much easier than my previous method, which involved peeling the husk like a banana peel!

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2 Comments

  1. Jen in MI said,

    September 6, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    Thanks for the post! Tomatillos have always had me a bit flummoxed in terms of preparation.

  2. Mom Wald said,

    September 9, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    Thanks! We have our first tomatillo plant, and I didn’t know when they were ready. Now I know how to husk them easier also. How handy!


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