If you haven't tried cooking with tomatillos, now's the perfect time.

Rachel Roszmann
July 29, 2020
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If you've ever had the pleasure of eating Mexican chile verde, or salsa verde, you've probably experienced the tangy, fruity flavor of the tomatillo. While they're often mistaken for green tomatoes, tomatillos are different fruits entirely. Here, we'll tell you what tomatillos are and how to prepare them, and give you tomatillo recipes you can use all summer long.

What Are Tomatillos?

Tomatillos (also known as jam berries and Mexican husk tomatoes) are golf-ball-size green fruits that belong to the nightshade family. Native to Mexico, these little fruits resemble tomatoes, only they come shrouded in husks—a papery shell that shields the fruit from the elements. While they may look like an unripened tomato, they have more in common with cape gooseberries (which also have husks). Raw tomatillos have a slightly tart flavor with tropical notes and hints of green apple.

How to Prepare Tomatillos

Preparing fresh tomatillos is easy. Remove the stem and husk—if you pinch it, it should come off fairly easily. The fruit underneath the shell will have a sticky film that can be rinsed off with warm water. It's not necessary to rinse them if you're using them in hot dishes as the film cooks off when you boil or roast them.

If you're using them raw for salad or cold dishes, they can be chopped or blended after being cleaned. If you're roasting or boiling them, it's best to leave them whole.

How to Use Tomatillos

These little fruits are a staple of Mexican cooking. Boiled or roasted tomatillos are the base for salsa verde and other green sauces, but they can be used in any number of dishes both raw and cooked: green gazpacho, chile verde, salad dressing and salad, to name a few. Though you can find them in most grocery stores year-round, the season starts in June and goes through fall, so they work well in summer dishes.

If you're making salsa verde (essentially tomatillo salsa), the traditional method is to boil the fruit with jalapeños and then blend them with raw onion and cilantro. However, if you want deeper flavors in your sauce, you can roast the tomatillos with the peppers and onions as an alternative—the results of the methods are different flavor experiences, and both are delicious.

How to Buy Tomatillos

Tomatillos are sold with the papery husks still intact. You know they're ripe if the husks are broken; the fruit grows faster than the husk and it breaks the shell when it's ready to be eaten. When you peel back the husk, the skin should be bright green, blemish-free and shiny. The fruit should be fairly firm, but not rock hard.

How to Store Tomatillos

Store tomatillos with their husks intact in a loose paper bag in a cool dark place. They can be stored in the refrigerator for about two weeks but, like tomatoes, tomatillos prefer temperatures about 20 degrees warmer than the refrigerator and their texture may change when chilled, so keep that in mind when you're doing your meal planning.

Nutrition Facts

Tomatillos are mostly water. That means they're low in calories—a 1/2-cup serving is about 21 calories—and they offer nutrients such as immune-boosting vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, magnesium and fiber.

What Are Tomatillos?

Tomatillos (also known as jam berries and Mexican husk tomatoes) are small round fruits green in color that are members of the nightshade family (or Solanaceae) much like bell peppers, eggplant and tomatoes. Native to Mexico, these little fruits resemble green tomatoes and grow on vines like tomatoes, only they come shrouded in husks–a papery shell that shields the shiny green skin of the fruit from the elements. They're actually more similar to cape gooseberries (which also have husks) than tomatoes–raw tomatillos have a slightly tart flavor with tropical notes and hints of green apple, while raw green tomatoes are a bit bland.

How to Prepare Tomatillos

Preparing fresh tomatillos is easy. Remove the stem and husk–if you pinch it, it should come off fairly easily. The fruit underneath the shell will have a sticky film on it. That can be rinsed off with warm water. Some people use a little bit of soap or they actually scrub off the film, but it's not necessary if you're using it in hot dishes–it cooks off when you boil or roast it.

If you're using them for salad or cold dishes, they're ready to cut and mix after being cleaned. If you're roasting or boiling them, it's best to leave them whole.

Pictured Recipe: Tomatillo Ranch Dressing

How to Use Tomatillos

This little fruit is a staple of Mexican cooking. Boiled or roasted tomatillos are the base for salsa verde and other green sauces, but it can be used in any number of dishes both raw and cooked–green gazpacho, chile verde, salad dressing and salad. Though you can find them in most grocery stores year-round, the season starts in June and goes through fall, so they work well in summer dishes.

If you're making salsa verde (essentially tomatillo salsa), the traditional method is to boil the fruit with jalapeños and then blend them with raw onion and cilantro. However, if you want deeper, flavors in your sauce, you roast the tomatillos with the peppers and onions as an alternative–the results of the methods are different flavor experiences, but both are delicious.

How to Buy Tomatillos

Tomatillos are sold with the papery husks still on them. You know they're ripe if the husk are broken–the fruit grows faster than the husk and it breaks the shell when it's ready to be eaten. When you peel bag the husk. the skin should be bright green, blemish-free and shiny. The fruit should be fairly firm, but not rock hard.

How to Store Tomatillos

Store tomatillos with the husk intact in a loose paper bag in a cool dark place. They can be stored in the refrigerator for about two weeks but, like tomatoes, tomatillos like temperatures about 20 degrees warmer than the refrigerator, so keep that in mind when you're doing your meal planning.

Nutrition Facts

While tomatillos deliver a lot of flavor, they're mostly water. That means they're low in calories–a half-cup serving is about 21 calories and a few nutrients to note: vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, magnesium, fiber.

Pictured Recipe: Tomatillo Breakfast Tacos

How to Buy Tomatillos

Tomatillos are sold with the papery husks still on them. You know they're ripe if the husk are broken–the fruit grows faster than the husk and it breaks the shell when it's ready to be eaten. When you peel bag the husk. the skin should be bright green, blemish-free and shiny. The fruit should be fairly firm, but not rock hard.

How to Store Tomatillos

Store tomatillos with the husk intact in a loose paper bag in a cool dark place. They can be stored in the refrigerator for about two weeks but, like tomatoes, tomatillos like temperatures about 20 degrees warmer than the refrigerator, so keep that in mind when you're doing your meal planning.

Nutrition Facts

While tomatillos deliver a lot of flavor, they're mostly water. That means they're low in calories–a half-cup serving is about 21 calories and a few nutrients to note: vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, magnesium, fiber.