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What are tomatillo plants?

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Quick Answer

The tomatillo plant, a member of the nightshade family, has a fruit resembling a small tomato that grows in a papery husk. Chefs use this fruit as an important ingredient in Mexican cuisine. Native to Central America, gardeners worldwide now cultivate the tomatillo plant .

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Full Answer

A key ingredient in salsa verde, this tart fruit also pairs well with avocados, spices or chillies. Tomatillos also appear in guacamoles, tacos and enchiladas. The fruit can be eaten either raw or cooked. Remove the inedible husk before eating. Nutritionally, the tomatillo is similar to the tomato and contains good amounts of vitamins C and K.

Tomatillo plants grow in summer gardens alongside tomato plants. Gardeners need at least two tomatillo plants for pollination. They should be planted in sunny locations about two feet apart and treated as tomato plants. They need nutrient-rich soil that is kept moist. The plant's yellow flowers attract bees, and the leaves resemble the leaves on an eggplant vine.

The fruit is ready to be picked when the papery husks are greenish brown, but the fruit is still green. The fruit can be stored at room temperature for about a week in their husks. Refrigeration makes the fruit last for up to two weeks.

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