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tomatillo

Pronunciation: [tohm-ah-TEE-oh]

This fruit, which is also called Mexican green tomato, belongs to the same nightshade family as the tomato. In fact, it resembles a small green tomato in size, shape and appearance except for the fact that it has a thin parchmentlike covering. The papery husk is a clue to the fact that the tomatillo is also related to the cape gooseberry. Although tomatillos can ripen to yellow, they are generally used while still green and quite firm. Their flavor has hints of lemon, apple and herbs. Tomatillos are available sporadically year-round in specialty produce stores, Latin American markets and some supermarkets. Choose firm fruit with dry, tight-fitting husks. Store in a paper bag in the refrigerator for up to a month. Remove husk and wash fruit before using. Cooking enhances the tomatillo's flavor and softens its thick skin. Tomatillos are popular in Mexican and Southwest cooking for use in a variety of dishes including guacamole and many sauces. They can be used raw in salads and salsas for a more acidic taste. Canned tomatillos are available in ethnic markets. Tomatillos are rich in vitamin A and contain a good amount of vitamin C. The tomatillo is also called jamberry.