Tomatillo Salsa Verde

Way back in spring, I got to take part in a plant giveaway for community gardeners in Halifax.  The Urban Garden Project had teamed up with Imagine Bloomfield to start seedlings in the 4-season Bloomfield Greenhouse way back in March and April.   Throughout the warming spring, oodles of volunteers helped nurture the seedlings to become lovely healthy plants.  There were lots of herbs, lots of tomatoes, lots of peppers, and LOTS of tomatillos!  We gave away over 100 tomatillo plants, and I’ve seen them thriving in community gardens around the city over the summer. Many of the gardeners that came to pick up plants back in spring didn’t really know what they were, and weren’t sure how they’d eat them.

Tomatillos bursting out of their husks are ripe, regardless of size.

Tomatillos come from Mexico and are often described as a type of green tomato but they are actually a relative of the groundcherry family.  Tomatillos have a slightly crispier texture than a tomato, and a fruitier taste.   Early on in summer, the plant sets out its paper husks once the flowers are pollinated.  Once the fruits start bursting out of the husks, you know they’re ready to pick.  Remove the papery husk and rinse fruit to remove the sticky residue.    It is traditional to pick them while they’re still green and tart for Salsa Verde.

One of my favourite Mexican cookbooks has about six pages of recipes that require a simple salsa verde, and I’ve been dying to make it for years.  Now that my own plants are setting lovely, marvelous fruit, I was finally able to make a batch.  This recipe makes a very tangy, thin salsa that I hope to use in my Mexican cooking all winter long.

Tomatillo and Lime Salsa Verde

from The Complete Book of Pickling by Jennifer MacKenzie

12 cups chopped tomatillos (approx. 4 lbs)

3 cups chopped onions

4 finely chopped and seeded jalapeno peppers

1/4 cup finely chopped garlic (about 12 cloves)

4 tsp pickling salt

1 cup white vinegar

1 tsp grated lime zest

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1.  Prepare canner, jars and lids.

2.  In a large pot, combine tomatillos, onions, jalapenos, garlic, salt, vinegar and lime juice.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring often.  Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring often, for about 20 minutes or until tomatillos and onions are tender and salsa is slightly thickened.  Stir in lime zest and cilantro.

3.  Ladle hot salsa into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace as necessary by adding hot salsa.  Wipe rim and place hot lid disc on jar.  Screw band down until fingertip-tight.

4.  Place jars in canner and return to a boil.  Process for 15 minutes before removing to a towel-lined surface and let stand until completely cool.  Refrigerate any jars that are not sealed.

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