The next time you head to your local natural and organic food store, check the produce department for tomatillos.

This yellow or green fruit, a member of the tomato family, has been a staple in Mexican and Latin American kitchens for many years. While tomatillos resemble unripe tomatoes, a brown, paper-like husk covers the colorful fruit.

Tomatillos have the tomato’s familiar acidic flavor, but they also boast a distinct lemony essence. A half-cup serving has only 50 calories and offers 15% of your daily vitamin C requirement.

Tomatillos grown in the United States are available May to December. When shopping, avoid selecting fruits with dry or shriveled husks. You want intact, tight-fitting, light brown husks. Peel back a small section, and look for a firm fruit that has no blemishes.

Upon arriving home, store tomatillos with the husks intact in a paper bag. If you don’t plan to use them right away, they’ll last an extra week in the refrigerator if the husks are removed and the fruit is placed in a sealed plastic bag. You may also freeze them after removing the husks.

Before cooking tomatillos, always remove the husks. Wash the fruit to remove any filmy residue the husks leave behind.

Raw tomatillos are a great addition to salsas and salads. Once exposed to heat, their flavor brightens, but they’ll fall apart quickly and become soupy, making them a wonderful base for soups, stews and sauces.

Tune in Friday for our weekend recipe: Tomatillo Salsa.