Full growing instructions given on packet. Sow the seeds in shallow trays of compost in a propagator or on a sunny windowsill in March, potting them on into small pots when they get to about 5cm (2") high. Transfer them into their final growing positions outdoors in late May/June when frost danger has passed. These vigorous plants do best in full sun in a warm, sheltered position, set about 1m (40") apart to allow them space to branch out. You will probably only need 2 plants for the average family, as they are extremely high-yielding, however do not plant any less as tomatillo bushes need a friend nearby to ensure effective pollination. When your Tomatillos get to around 30cm (12") tall they will begin to flop on their sides, losing their neat upright shape. This is a natural phase of their development, in which the central stem flops down in contact with the soil and sends out loads of lateral roots, followed by heavy fruit-producing shoots. Your plants will produce at least 4 or 5 times more fruit on these lateral branches. If possible grow your plants in open ground rather than pots if you have that option, to allow them space to spread out over the ground. They respond well to a high potash feed, producing even higher yields of fruit. Tomatillos are ready to harvest at any stage between walnut and medium tomato size; when they start to split their lantern-like casings but are still green. Each plant is capable of producing up to an astonishing 10 kilos (22lbs) of fruit per plant before the first frosts!
EATING: Tomatillos are incredibly versatile and can be used largely in similar ways to regular tomatoes, bearing in mind however that they are slightly more tart and do not contain as much sugar. Probably the most common way to serve these in Mexico is in spicy salsa verde (literally meaning ‘green sauce’), which seems to be served with everything from being stuffed into quesadillas to doused over fried chicken. To harvest the fruit, remove the husks and wash under warm water to remove the bitter waxy coating prior to eating or cooking.
Salsa Verde - Either boil whole or sliced in half and sear in a hot frying pan until their skins blacken. Peel the fruits and whizz the flesh up with green chillies, raw onions, a twist of lime, a pinch of salt and lashings of fresh coriander.
Tomatillo Marinade - This salsa verde mix makes a brilliant overnight marinade for grilled fish, prawns or chicken at your next BBQ, with just the addition of a good glug of olive oil.
Mexican Baked Haddock in Tomatillo & Sour Cream Sauce - Simmer the salsa verde mix with some good quality fish stock, a few spoonfuls of rich sour cream & thicken with a little cornflour. Pour this over a tray of haddock, sprinkle with cheese and bake in a medium oven for 20 minutes to make a delicious main course. Serve with rice, black beans and a tall margarita!
Tomatillo Chicken Soup - Slice up a cup of the little green fruit with a large onion, 4 cloves of garlic, 1 green chilli and simmer these all in a litre of good quality chicken stock until tender. Puree the whole lot and serve in warm bowls with shredded chicken, finely diced red onion, some pickled jalapeno rings and a hefty handful of corn chips crumbled over the top.
At Suttons we take food sensitivity seriously. If you are unsure you may be allergic to any varieties in the James Wong range, please take the precaution of seeking medical advice.