How to Select Tomatillos

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Tomatillos are also known as Mexican husk tomatoes. They are related to the common tomato and are widely grown in Mexico, where they are a dietary staple. They have a thin, papery husk that is easily peeled away to reveal a hard green fruit that resembles a tomato. Tomatillos turn yellow or purple when they are ripe but are generally used when they are still green. They have a slightly bitter, citrus flavor that lends itself well to salsas and sauces common in Mexican cuisine. Many people are unfamiliar with tomatillos and so are uncertain as to what to look for when purchasing them. Read on to learn how to select tomatillos.

  • Locate the tomatillos in the supermarket. They are now found in most U.S. grocery stores, and usually located next to the hot peppers.

  • Select a tomatillo and pick it up. Most of the tomatillos will still have the papery husk attached. This papery husk should be in tact and relatively crispy and free from moisture or mold.

  • Peel the husk back slightly and examine the color of the tomatillo. It should be bright green and evenly colored. Avoid selecting tomatillos having black or brown spots, which can be an indication of spoilage.

  • Squeeze the tomatillo. It should be quite firm and will not yield much to pressure from your hands. Soft tomatillos may be spoiled and should be avoided.

Tips & Warnings

  • Once the thin papery husk is removed from the tomatillo, there will be a sticky residue that should be washed off. A dilute solution of white vinegar will help remove the stickiness.
  • Roasting tomatillos under the broiler in your oven will soften them. After cooking they can be added to salsas and verde (green) sauces.
  • Try not to get the sticky resin from the fresh tomatillos on your skin, as it is difficult to remove.

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  • Photo Credit Scott Snyder
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