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When to Pick Tomatillos for Flavorful, Zesty, and Safe Fruit

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.

yummy looking tomatillo fruit growing ripe on vine
When deciding when to pick tomatillos – keep an eye on the size of the green husks! The tomatillo should be around three inches wide when ready for harvesting. We’ve read that the ideal harvesting time is when the tomatillo is still green because if you wait too long to pick your tomatillo, the flavor suffers

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!

when to pick tomatillos
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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!

Read More – Here’s What to Do With Your Tomato Plants During Winter!

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!

delicious looking organic tomatillo with purple tones
Want the secret of when to pick tomatillos? Harvest your tomatillo when the fruit fills the entire husk. And harvest tomatillo fruits while the fruit still feels firm. That’s the best tomatillo harvesting strategy! Also – remember that tomatillos are indeterminate! In other words – tomatillos keep producing fruit until the frost kills the plant. Some tomatillo plants may even yield 64 to 200 tomatillos per growing season! For that reason – harvesting and picking tomatillos by watching the calendar gets tricky. Instead, wait for the fruit to fill the husk. Then harvest.
tasty tomatillo husk tomato growing in garden
Tomatillos are usually green. But – we’ve seen plenty of tomatillo cultivars with deep shades of purple! Many new tomatillo growers also ask when to pick tomatillos for the best harvest – and how long they take to mature. We read from a reliable source that after transplanting your tomatillos, expect to wait 60 to 75 days to harvest. But, some cultivars may take longer.
organic green fresh tomatillos growing in husk
Picked tomatillos keep in your fridge for two weeks without fuss. We also read from another reliable source that tomatillos store longer in the refrigerator if the tomatillo husk remains intact. Place your tomatillo with husk in a brown paper bag and then into the fridge. Expect it to last for about three weeks and up to a month. (You can also freeze your tomatillo for longer-term storage.)
fresh homemade green salsa verde
Tomatillo salsa is an underrated side or topping for grilled beef, chicken, or pork. And fish too! We found a mouth-watering Tomatillo salsa and broiled salmon recipe. The recipe calls for six husked tomatillos – and plenty of seasonings like garlic, cilantro, salt, and pepper. It’s perfect for adding zesty flavor to your seafood dishes. And it’s dairy free!
green tomatillos with homemade salsa verde on wooden background
After researching when to pick tomatillos, you may have a jumbo-sized harvest ready for the kitchen! So – we want to share our favorite delicious tomatillo recipe for green tomatillo salsa. The recipe calls for chopped onions, lemon juice (or lime juice), garlic cloves, and other (top secret) ingredients! It’s one of our favorite ways to cook and enjoy a tomatillo harvest – and it’s easy to make. Here’s another yummy roasted tomatillo salsa recipe we found – we love the added corn kernels for a full-bodied flavor and texture.

Read More – How Long Do Tomatoes Take to Grow?

Conclusion

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!

Read More – When to Pick Tomatoes! Best Harvest Times for 11+ Tomato Cultivars!

Toma Verde Tomatillo Seeds for Planting | Survival Garden Seeds
$4.99 ($1,663.33 / Ounce)

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.

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09/27/2022 08:54 am GMT

Author

  • Kate moved to Portugal last year and lives with her husband, two cats, six hens, and a glorious Brahma rooster called Mary. Earlier this year they purchased a half-hectare ‘quinta’ – traditional terraced land with olive trees, grapevines, and a house to renovate. They are currently living in a small campervan which is a challenging but fun experience! Kate has over 15 years of experience in the UK veterinary industry and is also a passionate gardener – turning a grassy field into a productive vegetable patch in just three months. Future plans include more animals, particularly sheep and goats for milk production to make cheese, butter, and yogurt! Kate and her husband are aiming to create a self-sufficient off-grid life on their quinta, fulfilling a life-long dream.