Tomatillo Success


Since I was so amazingly successful with tomatillos this year I figured I better learn about them. I got my seeds from a friend who has saved them year to year – Thanks, Wilmer!

The tomatillo (Physalis ixocarpa or Physalis philadelphica) is a small, spherical and green or green-purple fruit surrounded by a paper-like husk formed from the calyx. As the fruit matures, it fills the husk and can split it open by harvest. The husk is brown and the fruit yellowish when it is ripe. Tomatillos are the key ingredient in fresh and cooked Latin American green sauces. The freshness and greenness of the husk is a quality criterion. Fruit should be firm and bright green as the green colour and tart flavour are the main culinary contributions of the fruit.
Wikipedia on Tomatillos

When they get “past prime” they are deliciously sweet eating something like a cross between an apple and an orange. This raises the question of, is the answer to the age old question of comparing apples and oranges – perhaps the answer is Tomatillos. Ours grew quite a bit larger than described on most of the web sites with most of them ending up around three inches across. The plants also grew taller than described, reaching five to six feet or even higher.

A relative of the tomato and member of the nightshade (Solanaceae) family tomatillos provide that tart flavor in a host of Mexican green sauces. In Mexico the fruit is called tomates verdes, tomates de cascara as well as fresadillas.
GourmetSleuth on Tomatillos

In the photo above you can see the technique I have been using for the last several years to hold up tomato plants. This also works very well with the tomatillos. Once the vines get tall enough to need some support I take a piece of baling twine, attach it to something much higher and then spin the end of it around the vine. As the plant continues to grow I twirl it around the string. This works to hold the plant up securely as it grows heavy with fruit without constricting the vines.

71째F/31째F Sunny

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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11 Responses to Tomatillo Success

  1. Patti says:

    Did you can some green sauce? yum yum

  2. dragonfly183 says:

    I had no idea that thats what those are. they growi wild here on south facing slopes where there is lot of sun.

  3. Peter comly says:

    Have you ever grown ground cherries? They have simular paper husks but are only the size of marbles. They are pretty tasty though and make good pies. I don’t really know how to describe their flavor, but I think there is something kind of bananaesque about it.

  4. pablo says:

    These grow wild in my empty lakebed too.

  5. Deb says:

    I love tomatilloes, and they are fairly easy to grow here; I even had some volunteers in the garden. The hard part is growing them large enough in this short growing season.

    I’ve done the baling twine method with tomatoes last year, as we have a limitless supply of twine, but I was too lazy this year…

  6. Pablo has a post about wild Tomatilla on his Round Rock Journal. Apparently some types are poisonous and should not be eaten raw. Other sources say they are fine to eat raw. I’m going to try to nail down the exact sepecies I have.

  7. EllaJac says:

    I grew these one year (they grew themselves subsequent years) and their sticky-ness inside the hulls attracted large populations of earwigs (which we have lots of anyway). Finding earwigs and their by-products was just too much for me and I never really did anything with them… Are there some safe, organic ways to discourage the beasts?

  8. Sam says:

    Well i have this plant grown wildly in the pot. will this would be harmful to eat?

  9. Mareeyah says:

    Wow! I never knew this can be made into (Mexican) sauces. This plant is very common in the Philippines. I remember picking its fruits for fun on the sides of the roads in the rural areas and playing with them. Nobody plants them there on purpose. They just grow like weeds, thus we treat them like weeds: ignored and never get to the kitchen. That’s why my Filipino friends are shocked when they see these in other countries being sold in the markets.

    • Edward says:

      I live in the Philippines and l remember swing Tomatillos grew everywhere but now that l know how to cook it, l don’t see it anymore …do you know where can l buy it?

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