Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ed Hume, you just failed

I am NOT a great gardener. Occasionally it might sound like I know what I'm talking about, but that's mostly because I'm over-ambitious, read too much, and have a mother who is willing and able to start ANYTHING in her magic greenhouse.

That last little bit is what gets me into trouble, I think. Mom always says that if you're going to start something, FINISH it. So when she plants out seeds, the contents of each envelope are emptied into a small but intimidating ARMY of twenty-ounce plastic cups. They stay in their plastic cups until conditions are right, and we scurry around tucking the adolescent seedlings into whatever dirt looks empty (and into the arms and purses of whoever crosses our paths.)

The big experiment this year was ground cherries. Touted to be prolific fruiters, with small grape/strawberry/tomato/pineapple/vanilla-scented-esque berries in small husks...well, for seventy cents for a packet of seeds, wouldn't YOU want to try that out? I did, and happily planted 23 seedlings in pots and sunny spots around the yard. I had been waiting for months for my berries to mature, for that magic day they would turn dry and then drop onto the dirt to be found like so many rustly Easter eggs.

Two days ago, it dawned on me: ground cherries are smaller than the smallest cherry tomato. The fruits on my bushes easily fill my palm. Oh snap.

I have 23 tomatillo bushes.

I made my first (five pound) harvest on Friday morning, and there is no end in sight. The tenacious and prolific bushes will continue to flower and fruit until the frost kills them. my new summer hobby:

Tomatillo Salsa!

Lucky for me, salsa is a breeze. You chop everything up as the opportunity presents itself, and once everything is assembled pull the whole pan onto the stove to let it boil for 10 minutes. Funnel it into your sterilized jars, boil for 15 minutes, and you have yourself four attractive and rather tasty Christmas presents! Because really, EVERYONE is getting tomatillo salsa this year. It's the new zucchini.

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Su said...

I had to google "tomatillo", and I definitely wouldn't know what to do with if those appeared in my garden.

Salsa, eh? I'll be making some from the tomatoes in my garden. My husband will be thrilled.

Casey said...

Ever since you mentioned your "ground cherry" issue, I've tried to rack my brain to come up with something to make with tomatillos. I've come up with nothing! It doesn't help that I've never cooked with or eaten tomatillos before. :)

I'm glad that they work well for salsa. I think it will make such fun Christmas gifts! Much more adventurous than the jam I'm doing. ;)

Ticia said...

Why I didn't think to make salsa with the in theory numerous tomatoes I'll be getting from my garden........
Can I be on your Christmas list?

Aunt LoLo said...

I found a few tomatillo recipes in my Joy of Cooking book. It's a new edition, but mom's copy might have some good ideas for you. :-)

Tammy said...

Tomatillo salsa is a staple in our house (it is my father in laws favorite salsa, and as he is the Mexican, he gets the final say). I have wanted to can some, but wasn't sure how the heat would affect our standard recipe (which is not cooked at all). As an extra idea, our standard is to mix 1 container of sour cream with about as much (maybe a little) more with the salsa and some squashed up avocado for a delicious "sauce" to go on tacos and taquitos. It ends up being a little thinner than ranch dressing. Delicious.

Sam said...

Beautiful! I had never heard of a tomatillo. Even though we've cornered the market on salsa around here. ;)

Lorie said...

We LOVE Tomatillo Salsa! Mabye not 23 bushes worth, but we love it!!

Now you just need to buy Costco size bags of tortilla chips!

Alexandra said...

Those are cute little plants, aren't they?! I saw some at The Fresh Market the other day. My daughter really wanted some. I may try these in my've got them under a tree, so they must do well in some shade? We've got mostly shade, but there are little sunny patches.