Tomatillos have to be one of the best-value plants to grow in your home vegetable garden. You absolutely cannot compare the quality of home-grown tomatillos to the rock-hard semi-ripe tomatillo fruit that is (occasionally) available in grocery stores.
How do you grow tomatillos?
Growing tomatillos is pretty much the same as growing tomatoes – but it’s easier because less can go wrong!
I start my seeds indoors in early spring, around the same time as the tomatoes or just after. In late spring, I pot the seedlings up to 4″ pots, as shown here, and about a month later I transplant them into the vegetable garden.
I use my own seeds saved from last year’s crop. There is absolutely no need to buy tomatillo seeds more than once in your life.
Tomatillo plants spread more than tomato plants do, and their stems are very fragile – so you need to use cages for supports rather than stakes.
And they produce abundantly! I get over a hundred tomatillos per plant.
Cleaning up your tomatillos is simple:
Once the tomatillos are ripe, you just peel off the papery outer husks. Tomatillos keep very well for days or even weeks on the kitchen counter (not the fridge), which is handy if you are stocking up to do a big load of salsa or enchilada sauce.
The fruits are usually a bit sticky, so I just give them a quick rinse after peeling them. (But don’t store them wet).
Growing tomatillos is fun – but the best part is, of course, eating.
One of my summer go-to’s is a fresh-cut tomatillo salsa, made exactly the way I would make a tomato salsa:
Chop together tomatillos, onions, cilantro and a bit of jalapeño. Add a squeeze of lime juice and salt, and stir. That’s it!
Enjoy with corn chips, or to dress up quesadillas or tacos.
Last week, Dave and I cooked up a whole canner load of tomatillo green enchilada sauce. We stocked up the tomatillos for a week or so until we had several kilos, then made two batches: one flavoured with epazote (a Mexican herb, also from my garden) and one with cilantro and lime.
I get about four jars of salsa per plant. We are about halfway through the harvest. I have another pile of tomatillos accumulating in the kitchen for a second canner load.
Canning, using a pressure cooker, is a great way to preserve garden produce without using up all of your freezer space. We will enjoy this green enchilada sauce through the coming winter!
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