Description - The tomatillo (toe-ma-tea-o) is of Mexican origin and has been introduced into the United States. It now grows everywhere in the Western Hemisphere and is common in Texas gardens. The husk tomato plant produces an edible fruit enclosed in a thick husk. The husk is brown and the fruit yellowish when it is ripe. The plants will grow to a height of three to four feet.

Culture - The husk tomato has the same cultural requirements as the tomato: fertile soil, ample soil moisture and a long, warm growing season. Plant after all danger of frost in full sunlight. Space plants about 18 inches apart in rows three feet apart. Mature fruit are produced in about 120 days.

Availability - Husk tomatoes are generally available from May through November in most areas of Texas. Some commercial production occurs in the Lower Rio Grande Valley and in the San Antonio area.

Selection - The condition of the "husk" is a good indication of the freshness of the fruit. The husk should be light brown and fresh looking, not shriveled and dried. Fruit should be firm and free of defects.

Storage - Fresh ripe husk tomatoes will keep in the refrigerator for about two weeks. If longer storage is desired, remove husks and place ripe fruit in sealed plastic bags and place in refrigerator. They may also be frozen whole or sliced.

Nutrition Information - Tomatillos are a good source of vitamin C.

Preparation - Remove husks and wash tomatillos. Remove skins if desired. Cook tomatillos either whole or cut in small pieces. Either way, steam them in a small amount of water in a covered saucepan for just about five to seven minutes. The result will be almost a sauce consistency, with the tiny seeds and bits of skin giving texture. Either add to other dishes or season with salt and pepper and hot chiles to taste and serve as a relish side dish.

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