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Requested Recipe:


"Ever come across a recipe for tomatillo wine?" Greg Cook, Fargo, North Dakota


The common tomatillo (Physalis philadelphica), also known as the Mexican groundcherry, husk-tomato and strawberry tomato, is related to the grape or prairie groundcherry (Physalis viscosa), the longleaf groundcherry (Physalis virginiana), and Wright or sharpleaf groundcherry (Physalis wrightii). Erect, bushy, or sprawling plants with drooping, bell-shaped, yellow to cream-colored flowers and berries completely enclosed in loose papery husks (actually, an enlarged calyx). There are numerous similar groundcherry species and varieties native to Central and Southern United States, Mexico, and Central America. The common tomatillo can be weedy in crop fields, but is typically not considered a weed in natural habitats. Tomatillo is cultivated for its edible fruits, but has escaped cultivation in some areas. It was introduced from Mexico.


Mature berries are yellowish to orange or purple, enclosed in pendant papery husks which are loose, ovoid, 15-35 mm long, 10-ribbed, angled to rounded. Berries disperse enclosed in the husks. Seeds are numerous, yellowish, round to kidney-shaped, flattened, minutely pitted, 2 mm long. Berries of the grape groundcherry are sticky and typically purple at maturity. Tomatillo berries are light green in color, turning yellow and then orange to purple with splitting husks at maturity.


Soak the grain overnight. When ready to make wine, pour boiling water over raisins (or sultanas or currants) and let soak about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, drain grain. Remove husks and wash and chop tomatillos. Mix grain, raisins, balm leaves and stalks, chopped tomatillos, and the peels of the citrus fruit (careful to remove all white pith) and pass through a mincer. Place minced ingredients in nylon straining bag in primary. Add sugar and tannin. Add 3-1/2 qts boiling water and stir well to dissolve sugar. Cover and allow to cool one hour. Add crushed Campden tablet and juice of citrus fruit. Wait 12 hours and add yeast nutrient and pectic enzyme, stirring to mix. Wait additional 12 hours and add yeast. Ferment seven days, gently squeezing bag of minced ingredients 2-3 times a day. Remove bag and allow to drip drain, then squeeze well but not too firmly. Pour all liquid into secondary and top up with water to within 2-1/2 inches of airlock. Rack after 3 weeks, then again every month until wine clears and no additional deposits form during two-week period. Bottle and allow to age 9-12 months. [Author's own recipe]

My thanks to Greg Cook of Fargo, North Dakota for this request.

This page was updated on September 25th, 2001

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