If you grow tomatillos (tomates verdes, Physalis ixocarpa) once, you’ll probably have them for life. If only one of the fruits falls to the ground, your future will most likely include tomatillos. Mine are a mix of plants from the nursery, seed companies and even trips to Mexico. They tend to be smaller, sweeter and mostly purple when fully ripe. A milpero is a cornfield and it’s common to find the tomatillos among the cornstalks.
The plants look a lot like Deadly Nightshade and they are in the same family (as are tomatoes) so when you’re doing early weeding, don’t get too vigorous. If you leave the plants to grow, you’ll see the familiar yellow “paper lanterns” that will eventually fill with the delicious fruits, sometimes even bursting at the seams.
To make a salsa, place a bunch of tomatillos in their wrappers on a hot dry skillet or comal. Add a thick slice of white onion, a serrano pepper, two cloves of garlic (in their paper skins) and roast until the tomatillos are hissing and soft and the onion charred. Place in a food processor with some lime, salt and chopped cilantro. Chop well and serve.