Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Plant Profile: Tomatillos

By Nina Berryman

We are lucky this week to have tomatillos in our share, even though we ourselves did not plant them. They were grown by Weavers Way staff along with children who live at the Stenton Family Manor in Germantown. These fruits are not very common in the US, but very prevalent in Mexico. Physalis ixocarpa are in the Solanaceae family and are related to the tomato. They look like green tomatoes, surrounded by a papery husk. When the fruit gets so large it breaks open the husk, you know it is ready to pick. They are very similar to ground cherries, both botanically and in appearance. They are also very closely related to Chinese Lanterns, which are often planted for decoration, although they too are edible. Another name for tomatillos is “Mexican husk tomato.” They come in both green and purple varieties. To store them, leave the husks on, and put them in a cool place, like the refrigerator. Don’t place them in a plastic bag, let them breathe. Generally, they are very easy to grow and quite prolific. If you plant them one year, you will inevitably have tomatillo volunteers next year as they are excellent self-seeders.

Sources: Seed to Seed, Suzanne Ashworth

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