Deep in the murky recesses of my mind I am forever calculating how much foodstuff we need to produce. Trying to figure out how often we eat a certain food item in order to determine what I need to grow, or gather, in order to meet our year end harvest goals. I always try to grow a little more than we should need in order to be assured of having enough. For example, we use tomatillo salsa approximately once every week and have to rely on frozen tomatillos for around 5 months out of the year. If we are lucky, the first new tomatillos ripen in July and the last ones are picked towards the end of September and can be stored fresh all the way until the first part of January. Each plant will provide us with around 2 gallons of tomatillos, often more sometimes less. So I grow at least 6 or 7 plants each year. Our objective being to freeze around 24 quarts to supplement those that are eaten fresh.
Tomatillos dehusked, washed, and ready to be made into salsa.
This year I inadvertently grew around 13 plants. "Why so many Mike?" you might ask. "That sure seems like and awful lot, do you sell tomatillos?" Well yes and no, we did sell quite a few plants this spring but had no intention of selling the fruits themselves. I accidentally grew 6 extra plants in our garden because I thought they were going to be Cape Gooseberries. You see, I thought that when I purchased Giant Cape Gooseberries from the reputable "Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds" they would produce a large orange form of ground cherry. But alas, my winter fantasies of beautiful orange gooseberries "New Acquaintances In The Garden" were realized in the form of big green tomatillos. As the seeds look so much alike I am not all that upset, well maybe a bit perturbed, but more amused than anything as I wonder how many other customers ended up with unusually large green Cape Gooseberries.:) Mistakes happen. Although, Mrs. H. is not as forgiving and has threatened to give them a piece of her mind. I desperately need all the pieces of my mind so I will leave that matter in her capable hands.
The first of a large crop of tomatillos.
That said, we are looking at quite a surplus of tomatillos...not a bad dilemma to have. We picked and froze around 1/3 of our tomatillos and are only a few quarts shy of our target amount. So if I appear a little on the green side this year it's not that my health is failing but that I have been a bit of a glutton with the salsa. Oink, oink.
Slightly sweeter Purple Coban tomatillos
Tomatillos will store in their husks for around 2 months at 35 - 45°, the smaller ones even longer. When overly ripe they will turn yellow and become very sweet. We are going to try slicing and drying a few of them in this stage for the first time this year...maybe they will be good that way. Faced with a overabundance I might as well perform a little experimentation, you know.
If you ever want to save the seed off a tomatillo or ground cherry, just toss a few really ripe ones in your blender (or mash them) with a little water. Give them a whirl and then dump the contents into a small bowl. The good seeds will sink to the bottom and the rest of the pulp can be carefully poured off leaving the seeds. I remove mine with a butter knife and spread onto a drying screen for a few days until they are ready to be put away for the next season. The most important part is to not get them mixed up with your gooseberry seeds.:)