You’ve heard about my gardening woes. Fortunately, not all is lost: I am growing a bumper crop of tomatillos. For the uninitiated, tomatillos are closely related to tomatoes, except that they’re green and grow in husks. The husks puff up when the plant starts to set fruit, and when the fruit fills the husk, they’re ripe. But because you need two plants for successful pollination, you could end up with hundreds of tomatillos if the conditions are right (they like hot days and cool nights). They’ve lovely roasted with fish or chicken, but my favorite? Salsa verde, by far.
I make a stovetop/blender version, but you if you want to go through the trouble of peeling them, you can make a nice smokey version by toasting the tomatillos and peppers in a cast iron skillet….but the lazy way is equally delicious.
Now, a little disclaimer about canning. All of the water-bath recipes that I’ve seen for salsa verde require more lime juice than I like in my salsa. On the other hand, they also use more onion, so they would be less acidic. I queried the Twittersphere as to whether it would be safe to can my version in a water-bath canner. Zoecancan sent me a terrific link to a peer-reviewed article in the journal Plant Foods for Human Nutrition that says that tomatillo mixtures with 50% or more tomatillos are safe for a water bath. Now, I want to be loud and clear here that this is NOT a USDA-approved recipe—but I can’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work. Last year, without access to this information, I canned about a dozen jars in a pressure canner and they turned out just fine. You will get some discoloration on the lids because of tomato-family enzymes, but so long as the jar is still sealed, it’s harmless. If both of these options seem scary, you could always freeze it. It also keeps in the refrigerator for at least 2 weeks.
About a pound of tomatillos
Water to cover
A couple of jalapeno peppers, or maybe a serrano or two
Enough cilantro to yield 1/4 c. chopped
1) Remove the husks and rinse the tomatillos. Put them in a saucepan with water to cover and bring the water to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes, until they change color and squish easily.
2) Combine the tomatillos and their liquid and all the remaining ingredients in blender.
If you’re freezing or storing in the refrigerator, you’re done. If you want to can it, proceed to Step 3.
3) Return the sauce to the pan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, prepare your canning equipment. Gently boil your lids and have 2 quarts of boiling water ready for the pressure cooker, or a big pot of water going for water-bath canning. Water-bath canners need to sterilize the jars. Transfer the hot sauce to clean jars (water-bath canners need hot jars) and assemble the lids. Adjust the rings.
4) For pressure canners: transfer the jars to the pressure canner and pour in the water (Remember: the water will not cover the jars. It’s there to create steam.). Lock on the lid and turn on the heat. Evacuate the steam for 7 minutes, then put on the pressure regulator. Process pint jars for 5 minutes, quart jars at 10 minutes, either at 10 pounds pressure. There’s a step-by-step refresher on pressure canning on this post on chicken broth.
5) For water-batch canners: transfer the jars to the water bath. The water should cover the jars. Bring the pot back to a boil. Process pint jars 25 minutes and quart jars 35 minutes.
If you are a food scientist or home extension agent and have thoughts on this: Speak up! Also, this isn’t like jam: it scales up beautifully. If you’ve got 10 pounds of tomatillos and want to make 3 quarts of salsa: knock yourself out.