Tomatillos are the ideal plants for the “otherwise-ingaged” vegetable grower. Because I knew we would have to leave our allotment on 1st October, I did not look after my garden as well as I normally do. We mulched very little and weeded even less. Because the soil was in very good shape, after almost 10 years of no-dig gardening, with few weeds germinating, vegetable plants had still done pretty well. But the tomatillos especially, rewarded us for our neglectful behaviour with a great abundance of fruits.
Tomatillos are almost unknown around here and that’s a shame, because they are very easy to grow and much more disease resistant then their close relative, the tomato. I sowed them in March on the windowsill and planted 4 plants out in May. I scattered some clipped grass around them by way of mulching, but that’s about all the care they got. And in return, we got kilo’s of fruits.
We have made salsa, eaten them raw in a salad, added them to curry and made a wonderful pizza with tomatillos and coriander pesto. Still, there were plenty left, so we had to do what every gardener does when faced with a too bountiful harvest – we resorted to canning.
We made chutney. A chutney is always a sweet-and-sour concoction, but this one is hot, too. We added a few of our chillies, because they’re best company for tomatillo’s and also because, well, we had plenty of them, too. I did not want to use too much sugar so substituted some with raisins. Mustard seeds and cinnamon to spike things up.
And now we can eat our tomatillos for many months to come!
Hot tomatillo chutney
makes about 5 small jars
If you don’t have tomatillos but need to process some not-quite-ripe tomatoes, you can use this recipe as well.
1 kg (2 ¼ pound) tomatillos (or green tomatoes)
450 g (1 pound) apples, peeled, cored and chopped
2 onions, peeled and chopped
2 chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
85 g (½ cup) raisins
120 g (½ cup) natural cane sugar
250 ml (1 cup) apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
1 tsp salt
Remove the husks of the tomatillos and wash the fruits (they have a somewhat sticky layer on them). Chop them roughly, then put them in a large pan with the rest of the ingredients. Bring to boil and let simmer for about 1 hour. Remove the cinnamon stick and pour the chutney into warm sterilized jars, cover and seal. It’s a good idea to leave the chutney for at least a month before eating, as it allows the taste to mature.