Tomatillo, Tomate Verde

Physalis ixocarpa or P. philadelphica

Appears in

By Elizabeth Schneider

Published 2001

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Also Mexican husk tomato, tomate, tomatito verde, miltomate (for the wild form)

It was not until the United States discovered the joy of Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes in the early 1980s that tomatillo showed up outside a can—or that’s what I thought until I read Julia Morton’s Fruits of Warm Climates. Morton notes that “before 1863, it was thoroughly naturalized and commonly growing in abundance in the far west of the United States, and that some 20 acres were cultivated for the Los Angeles market from 1930 to about 1939 for the Mexican population.” Shortly thereafter, in a confusing turn of events (such confusion often accompanies marketing campaigns), “the American Fruit Grower publicized this species under the concocted name ‘Jamberry,’ as a new fruit introduced by scientists at Iowa State College.” Tomatillo was subsequently “introduced” several more times under other names that probably served to muddle its identity even further.