They sound exactly like ‘tomatoes’ and they belong to the same nightshade family- but they’re very distinct species. They even look like little tomatoes but are bright green, and have a dry husk covering them. In fact, they are sometimes referred to as husk tomatoes. But they are not baby tomatoes. Tomatillo is unique on its own and you will definitely enjoy growing it at home.
To the native Spanish speakers, the name tomatillos mean “little tomatoes”, but as previously mentioned, they are not related to tomatoes. However, just like tomatoes, people usually misidentify tomatillos as a vegetable, but it is actually a fruit. This fruit is largely grown and is native to Mexico, but it is now being adopted by American farmers because of its toughness against diseases.
With a very dense filling, they are slightly acidic, with a bright, almost lemon-like flavor with some sweetness, and are also a little herbaceous. However, they are less sweet than tomatoes and you can expect a very different experience. They go very well with spicy food, especially grilled meats. They might look like tomatoes, but they taste nothing like a tomato at all.
Why not grow tomatillos at home and add a tangy twist to your recipes? They are prolific growers and will give you an abundance of yield. They love full sun and thrive in it but even in less sun, they can grow quite well. They also need moderately rich, well-drained soil. If you have heavy clay soil in the garden, you should ideally plant them on raised beds. It is best to start indoors about 6-8 weeks prior to your last frost date. Then you can transplant them outside when the soil is warm. One major question is when to harvest tomatillos and how would you know when they are ripe.
When to Harvest Tomatillos?
There aren’t many things that can be more satisfying than a garden that provides you the vegetables you need. By planting tomatillos, another vegetable is added to your garden. However, before you get to planting some tomatillos in your garden, consider which variety to plant in your garden. You can choose some green variety or the purple variety.
Picking the right variety is a necessity since not all varieties are suited to every soil, climate, or your preferences. To check which the climate and the soil you have, simply check it by using some charts that are based on the country you live in. If the information provided is inconsistent, which sometimes is, you can instead ask your local nursery for tips for which variety to choose.
Your tomatillos plant cannot bear fruits if they are planted alone. A tomatillos plant needs a partner to be able to grow, and they needed to be grown side by side. So when you plan to plant tomatillos you will want to plant two at the same time. The wind will do the job of cross-pollinating the plant.
If you are busy and don’t have time to germinate a tomatillo, you can simply buy some tomatillo seedlings in your local nursery, Make sure to buy the healthy-looking ones and always remember to buy pairs for pollination.
A tomatillo needs to be watered at least once per week, and if you live in a hot climate, water them twice a week. Only pour enough water to keep the soil moist and make sure to not saturate it. When you water the tomatillos, water them at the base of the plant to reduce the chance of molds developing.
Be on the lookout for some pests that may threaten the plant, Though the tomatillos is a hardy plant, it is still best to be safe, and look for these pests, and remove them immediately.
Typically, about 75 to 100 days after transplanting seedlings- you can expect to harvest your fresh tomatillos.
You will know when to harvest tomatillos if you look out for certain cues indicating that the fruit is ripe. The husk of the tomatillo will change from green to a shade of tan. The fruit will also fill out in their husk and then the husks will split. This indicates that the tomatillo is ripe. However, if the fruit inside still feels small and marble-like, you can wait a few more days. You can also lookout for the size. A mature tomatillo is generally the size of a cherry tomato or just a little larger. The smaller ones will be sweeter too.
Once your tomatillos turn yellow, the fruit will lose its taste and it will no longer be ideal to be used for dishes, Be sure to harvest them while they are still green.
Remember that tomatillos grow prolifically, so you should harvest all the ripe ones. Otherwise, you are likely to find a wilderness of self-sown seedlings in your garden.
Simply harvest your tomatillos by twisting them lightly. Or you could cut them off the plant using scissors.
It’s best to use them when they’re fresh. But you can store them in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, in a paper bag. Don’t store them at a temperature below 5 C as they can suffer from chilling damage. Also, keep them away from fruits or vegetables that give off ethylene gas. You can even freeze them but first, remove the husks and wash the fruit.
Will Tomatillos Ripen after Picked
A commonly asked question is ‘will tomatillos ripen after picked’. And is it possible to harvest unripe tomatillos for later use? Well, the short answer is no.
But while tomatillo won’t ripen off the vine, it can be harvested earlier at times. In some situations, it is advised to pick tomatillos that have developed, even if they’re not fully mature. If it is about to freeze, it’s best to harvest the tomatillos to save them from being destroyed.
Of course, they won’t be as sweet or flavorful, and will also be a little hard. However, they will still be edible despite not being at their prime ripeness.
However, when possible, you should allow your tomatillos to ripen on the vine completely and be fully mature when you harvest them. There’s nothing like the freshness of a ripe and mature tomatillo.
How to tell if Tomatillos are bad
No one wants to end up using spoiled fruit or one that has gone bad. So it’s best to know how to tell if tomatillos are bad, so you can discard them rather than eating them.
The first way to identify a bad tomatillo is by checking its’ firmness. If the fruit feels very mushy and sponge-like rather than being solid and firm- it has gone bad.
You should also lookout for a foul, off-putting smell when you cut the tomatillo open. If you sense something is not right, it probably isn’t. They will also start developing mold. Signs of tearing or blemishes are also a bad sign.
How to Eat Tomatillos
If you have never tried them before, you are definitely wondering how to eat tomatillos. Well, there is no one right way to do so. You can blend it into so many dishes and cook it in so many ways.
Raw tomatillos can be a little too acidic and sharp to taste. It is always recommended to cook them to tone down the sourness and make the fruit milder and better tasting. Cooking tomatillos also brings out their inner sweetness.
You can toss in some chopped tomatillos into your salads for a light snack with lots of flavors. You can also add the tomatillos into dips and sauces. They can be boiled, fried, sautéed, or grilled and incorporated into foods like hotdogs, eggs, pork, and more.
The true star of the show is the tomatillo salsa, the most popular way to put your tomatillo to use. In fact, Homemade Tomatillo Salsa Verde is one of the best recipes you could try. Store-bought salsa just doesn’t compare.
It is not complicated at all. You just need a few main ingredients and you are good to enjoy this lip-smacking salsa. Tomatillos, jalapenos, garlic, onion, salt, and cilantro- that’s all. You can always customize the ingredients to your liking and add whatever you like.
Wash your tomatillos properly first. Then quickly roast all of the vegetables together. This will intensify the flavor. You will also see the roasted tomatillos change into a yellow color. Then you have to chop all the ingredients up, add salt and cilantro, and put them in a blender. Just process it until you have your desired texture. Your zesty and tangy tomatillo salsa is ready!
Tomatillo growing is easy and simple. Knowing the basics and learning when to harvest tomatillos will help you in home-growing this distinct fruit with even more ease. And take our word for it-the home-made Tomatillo Salsa Verde is worth it!Now that we have discussed this topic with you, do you have any more thoughts and tips on this topic? Make sure to comment on them below! We also offer other guides as well such as When to Harvest Mint? and How To Grow Red Onion.