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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

TOMATILLO - HUSKY GREEN TOMATO: HEALTH BENEFITS AND USES OF TOMATILLO: MEXICAN SALSA VERDE EASY RECIPE


TOMATILLO, PHYSALIS PHILADELPHICA, PHYSALIS IXOCARPA-BROT
As you might expect from the name, the tomatillo is related to the tomato as they are both members of the Solanaceae (nightshade) family of plants, which means the tomatillo is also related to the potato, aubergine  and Nipple Fruit. It is native to the South American continent and is widely cultivated in Mexico and Guatemala where the wild and domesticated versions can be found. The wild variety often grows between cultivated crops of maize (corn), beans and gourds, such as the ash gourd or petha. The wild fruit is picked and sold locally.
  It is a fruit with seeds, which grows inside a calyx, so it comes off the plant prepackaged. If you buy the fruit before it is fully ripe it can be stored in its calyx (the husk which covers it) for up to a year. It tastes a little like a gooseberry, although more like the Indian gooseberry than the European one and is related to the Cape gooseberry, Physalis peruviana. Because of the calyx it is also called the husk tomato and is known as tomate verde (green tomato) in Spanish. It is used with chillies in various salsas (sauces) as it takes away some of their hotness. It contains quite a lot of pectin, so is often used to thicken soups and sauces to give them a thicker consistency. The name comes from the Nahuatl “tomatl” which is a generic word that is used for fruits that are watery, round and seed-bearing, and which are sometimes enclosed in a calyx. They come in a variety of colours ranging from green to yellow and through to purple, although this one has been given a separate name, Physalis ixocarpa- BROT, presumably because it contains ixocarpalactoneA, which is a withanolide, in its stem and leaves. This purple tomatillo is mainly consumed in western Mexico. It has been found to be a good safe source of antioxidants and has been subjected to much research. It has antibacterial activity against respiratory infections caused by Staphylococcus bacteria and has potential for developing an anti-cancer drug. It contains carotene, vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid some B-complex vitamins and the minerals calcium and iron and copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, selenium and Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids.. The raw fruit also contains vitamins A, E and K as well as flavonoids,
  In folk medicine, the juice from the fruit is used as eyewash, and in Guatemala it is used for gastrointestinal problems and respiratory disease. The husk is not always discarded as it can be made into an infusion which is used in tamale dough to give it a spongy consistency and to give flavour to white rice; the infusion is also used to tenderize red meat.
  The tomatillo has been cultivated in Mexico and Guatemala for centuries and it is believed that its first cultivation began in Mexico, certainly before the arrival of the Spaniards, who were probably responsible for taking the tomatillo to the Caribbean where it is cultivated. It was taken to Spain and cultivated, but this was stopped as the tomato became much more popular.

MEXICAN SALSA VERDE
Ingredients
1 lb tomatillos, husks removed
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped or minced
2 green chillies, very finely chopped
2 tbsps fresh coriander leaves, shredded
1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped or 1 tsp dried
½ tsp cumin seeds, dry fried and ground
salt to taste
2 cups water

Method
Put everything in a pan and bring to a boil over a high heat.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10-15 mins or until the tomatillos are soft.
Puree in batches in a blender.
Serve as a dip or side dish to give some extra flavour to chicken or meat dishes.
This has Taste and is a Treat.

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