People often do not think twice about chucking tomatillo husks in the trash, but can they be useful? Some have said that those husks can be used as a leavening agent or boiled to make tea, but their toxicity level often scares people away.
The tomatillo itself is a remarkably versatile fruit. Most people probably know it as a key ingredient in salsa verde, but you can also use it for sauces, soups, and warm salads. Given how versatile the fruit is, it is understandable that people want to make better use of the whole plant.
This article will focus on potential tomatillo husk uses. Find out if that part of the tomatillo is something worth hanging on to or if you should throw it away quickly.
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Why Are Tomatillo Husks Not Widely Used?
After looking online, people will likely find that there are not a lot of articles discussing how you can use tomatillo husks. It is simply not a topic that has been discussed at length.
The likely explanation for that lack of content is the nature of the husk itself.
The husk, the leaves, and the stem of the tomatillo are all mildly poisonous if eaten in large quantities. These parts of the tomatillo plant are toxic because they contain the alkaloid known as solanine.
Solanine poisoning is not something to simply shrug off. This article from Michigan State University highlights the symptoms a person may display if they are afflicted with solanine poisoning.
Those symptoms include:
- Stomach pain
- Slow breathing
Simply put, a bout of solanine poisoning can be unpleasant and people should do what they can to avoid it. That is why avoiding the husks is generally a good rule when using tomatillos.
However, people should know that contracting solanine poisoning from tomatillos is not a common occurrence. An individual would need to consume an enormous amount of those tomatillo husks to get sick. Many agree that eating tomatillo husks is unwise, but a single bite is unlikely to land anyone in the emergency room.
Potential Tomatillo Husk Uses
Consuming the husk of a tomatillo carries a small amount of risk. People are advised not to consume those husks, but there are some documented uses for them.
To be more specific, those tomatillo husks can be used as ingredients to create other consumable goods. Learn more about those possible uses for tomatillo husks below.
Tomatillo Husk Tea
First off, the leftover tomatillo husks you can supposedly use to make some tea. Per this article from KCRW.com, a farmer who grows tomatillos uses the husks to create medicinal tea. The tea supposedly lowers blood sugar, although that is not confirmed. The farmer also provided their recipe for tomatillo husk tea; it includes ten tomatillo husks, one zucchini, one nopal cactus, and some water.
To prepare the tea, you throw the ingredients into a pot and boil it for about 90 minutes. Once you have boiled the ingredients, the liquid mixture sits overnight. The tomatillo husk tea is ready to drink the morning after.
Keep in mind that the recipe detailed above involves using a lot of tomatillo husks. Drinking that tea could carry a higher risk of contracting solanine poisoning. The benefits of drinking it are also unverified, and people should consider that before brewing their batch.
Tomatillo Husk as a Leavening Agent
Tomatillo husks can also apparently be used to create a leavening agent in the form of a broth or infusion.
Apparently, the liquid mixture containing the essence of the tomatillo husks acted similar to baking soda. When used with masa, the husk leavening agent could help create light and fluffy loaves of bread. It could even supposedly make tamale dough.
The exact reason why the water infused with the tomatillo husks has that effect on masa dough remains unclear. It is also worth pointing out that the tomatillo husk leavening agent seems to have been used mainly with masa dough. It is hard to tell if it will produce the same results if it is a direct substitute for baking soda in modern baking recipes.
Besides the tomatillo husks, another key ingredient in the leavening mixture is said to be tequesquite.
Tomatillo Husk as a Slime Remover
You can use cactus as a cooking ingredient in certain parts of the United States. It can be grilled, added to salsa, or even fried. People who enjoy eating cactus say it taste like green beans.
Giving cactus a try is a good idea, but home cooks should know it requires extra preparation. Cactus produces a slimy substance that can be unpleasant on the palate. A single taste of that slime may be enough for some people to swear off eating cactus for good.
Getting rid of that slime is crucial to proper cactus preparation. Supposedly, the tomatillo husks can help with that.
Once again, the secret is boiling the tomatillo husk. Boiling the husks together with water and cactus pieces removes the slime. It is still unclear why the slime seemingly goes away, but the cactus does improve it texture-wise after boiling with the tomatillo husks.
Why Do Tomatillo Husks Turn Yellow?
When picking tomatillos from the vine, one will notice that the husks are green. The husks closely match the colors of the tomatillos themselves. The only difference is that the color of the husks may appear slightly more faded.
However, there are cases wherein the color of the husk does not match the tomatillo. It may not even be green in color anymore. The husk may be in the process of turning yellow.
It is important to remember that the tomatillo husk turning yellow is not normal. Instead, that change in appearance is an indicator that something is wrong with the plant.
Overwatering is the most likely culprit. Too much water can affect the plant’s ability to absorb nutrients, and that leads to the discolored husk.
The issue could also be related to the soil. The soil used for the tomatillo plant may not be nutritious enough. Changing the soil could help resolve the issue of discoloration.
The list of tomatillo husk uses is fairly small. Finding alternative uses for tomatillo husks may not be worth it since their toxicity remains a concern.