When to pick tomatillos? Here’s our best advice! Tomatillos are still somewhat the new kid on the block in the world of vegetable gardening, and many people are confused about what they are and how to harvest them.
If you’ve decided to try growing tomatillos in your garden for the first time, we’ve got everything you need to know about what tomatillos are.
And also – how to grow them, when to pick them, and much more!
What Are Tomatillos?
Tomatillos are a type of fruit that belongs to the nightshade family, alongside potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, and bell peppers. The plant looks similar to a tomato plant, and the fruits are alike in shape to tomatoes. However, the fruits get encased within a fibrous husk. The husk has a beautiful lantern-like appearance.
The name tomatillo may mean baby tomato, but you’d be mistaken to think of these fruits as similar to tomatoes. The flesh of tomatillos is firm and dense, with a bright, sharp flavor. These zingy fruits can also get eaten raw! But they are more commonly cooked to draw out their sweeter notes.
When to Pick Tomatillos
Choosing the right time to pick tomatillos is a fine art – too soon, and they’ll not be fully ripe. But leave them too long, and they will start falling off the plant!
These plants mature with surprising haste. And you can expect to start harvesting your first tomatillos just 75 to 100 days after planting.
The peak time to pick tomatillos is when the fruit has swelled to fill the papery husk to the point that it starts to split. If you time it just right, the tomatillo should fall off in your hand with just a tiny amount of pressure.
Unfortunately, unlike tomatoes, there is no clear-cut color change to look for when harvesting tomatillos. Selecting perfectly ripe fruits is done by feeling, giving each fruit a gentle squeeze to see how firm it is inside the husk. Think of it like a balloon inflating inside a paper bag – when it gets to the point that the bag is going to split, it is ready to harvest!
How to Pick Tomatillos
Once you’ve decided that your tomatillos are ready to harvest, it is time to start taking them off the plant. The very ripest ones will fall off the plant with gentle pressure, but slightly underripe ones will need cutting from the plant with a pair of garden scissors. Don’t be tempted to pull them off, as you risk damaging the plant’s stem.
Pick all the ripe fruits you can find, but discard any that have signs of mold, disease, or insect damage.
Tomatillos store best in their husks. But when the time comes to eat them, the husk should get peeled away. The fruit will have a sticky film on the surface – rinse this off under warm water.
Your tomatillo harvest is now ready for you to eat! Either raw or cooked. Bon appetit!
How to Pick Tomatillos – FAQs
Now we’ve got your tomatillo basics all sorted out! So – let’s look at other intriguing questions about growing and harvesting these unusual fruits!
Read More – How Long Do Tomatoes Take to Grow?
Tomatillos are the most underrated member of the nightshade family!
And – we love cooking them! They help enhance nearly any homemade taco, enchilada, salsa, chili, or fresh and zesty garden salad. Don’t forget sour cream – and guacamole!
If you have more questions about when to pick tomatillos – or if you have a savory tomatillo recipe to share?
Please let us know in the comments below!
Thanks again for reading.
And – have a great day!
Before researching when to pick tomatillos - you need to have the best tomatillos possible! We love this heirloom survival Toma Verde tomatillo seed packet for easy germination - and harvests! Toma Verda tomatillos have a tart, zesty, and tangy flavor when fresh.
Or - you roast them for a deeper flavor. The Toma Verde cultivar is also famous for adaptability and quick maturing. They prefer soil temperatures of around 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The seeds also come from the USA - and are heirloom, non-GMO.