What's a tomatillo?

moraleagle(6a)April 3, 2013

Hi can you plz explain what a tomatillo is, and if it will grow in MA? Also how does it taste and what are some good gardening tips? Thanks!

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Here is what it says on Wikipedia

Here is a link that might be useful: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomatillo

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 7:06PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Tomatillos are a tomato relative: small, round tomato-ish fruit which are generally green, yellow, or purple when ripe. The fruit are encased in papery husks (similar to ground cherries or Chinese lantern plants, if you're familiar with those). They are most often used in salsa.

Whether tomatillos can be grown in Massachusetts depends on the length of your growing season. Are you planting from seed or buying seedlings?

One of the most important things I can say is that you must plant at least two tomatillos to have any fruit, as the plants are not self-fertile. [They don't have to be different varieties, simply different plants.]

Some more resources for you:



    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 7:18PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Google has tons of info on tomatillos - how to grow them, different varieties, even recipes for using them. Check out all the pics of them linked below.


Here is a link that might be useful: Google Images - Tomatillos

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 7:25PM
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A farmer about 10 miles from me in NW CT grows them so I assume they will grow in MA as well.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 8:45PM
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Tomatillos are what makes green sauce tangy. You know when you go to a restaurant and they bring out bread or rolls or cheese biscuits? In Tex-Mex places, they bring out a tub of tortilla chips, a bowl of red sauce, and a bowl of green sauce.

Green sauce recipes are semi-unique to each restaurant. It's basically peppers, tomatillo, and avocado. More avocado when they are cheap, less in the off-season.

The tomatillo itself is a husked green fruit that tastes a little like a honeyed apple. I keep meaning to make tomatillo jam, but it all gets made into green sauce first.

I had fish tacos with green sauce for dinner tonight. Yum.

Oh, and thank you, missing, I was going to try growing them this year but didn't realize I needed two!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 11:03PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

nialialea, as you're in Texas, you may have enough neighbors growing tomatillos that you could get by with a single plant -- the bees would do the cross-pollinating for you. But better safe than sorry!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 12:32AM
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Sadly, I think I'm the only edibles gardener around. Most of my neighbors have crews come in twice a month to mow the lawn and trim the Knockouts. If they garden, it's strictly ornamentals or maybe citrus/figs.

On the plus side, I can buy tomatillos and peppers at the grocery pretty much all year round! You only need about six tomatillos per green sauce batch, so I'm not sure two tomatillo plants would be the best use of my space. If they were harder to get around here, I'd plant them for sure.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 5:36PM
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caryltoo Z7/SE PA

Good info -- I'm growing tomatillos for the first time and didn't know I needed two, though I was planning on more anyway.

I'm not much of a guacamole fan, but I found a recipe that adds 8 tomatillo's in with a couple of avocados and it really lightens it up -- it's more like a salsa verde than traditional guac. Oh, summer can't come fast enough.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 10:59AM
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Yeah, that's green sauce. I would describe the flavor as a little sour and a little spicy, with more or less of an avocado taste depending on season.

Each restaurant makes it a little differently. Our favorite serves it with a side of pickled, coined vegetables -- jalapenos, carrots, onions - and the pickle, green sauce, tortilla chip combo is amazing.

I have a killer recipe I found in a community cookbook in Galveston a few years ago. I should make it more often but it's just so easy to get it's hard to make the effort.

Amazing on fish tacos, with tortilla chips, drizzled over bean soup. I may need to go out for lunch now.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 11:26AM
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rt_peasant(5 CO)

Tomatillo seeds are super easy to save from a store-bought tomatillo. Find one that is a good size and flavor, rinse and dry the seeds, and you're done. I've had better results with my store-saved seeds than with the commercial seed packet that I bought.

Tomatillo plants get enormous. You need 2 plants as others have mentioned, and space could be an issue in a small garden. But the second plant doesn't have to be very big. It just needs a few blossoms on it for successful pollenation. Last year, I lost my 2nd tomatillo mid-season. I took some cuttings from a friend's tomatillo, and kept them alive in jars of water at the base of my remaining tomatillo for 2 months. They continued to produce blossoms, and I wound up with more tomatillos than I could use.

BTW, this avocado-tomatillo salsa recipe is the reason I grow tomatillos!

Here is a link that might be useful: Salsa de Tomatillo con Aguacate

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 11:05PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

From the gourmetsleuth.com link:

Tomatillos, pronounced [toh-MAH-tee-YO]

Please, say it this way: toh-mah-TEE-yoh

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 1:00PM
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Salsa Verde is a beautiful thing. I have even had tomatillo seeds survive the winter and volunteer the next Spring.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 11:09PM
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caryltoo Z7/SE PA

I wintersowed them for the first time this year and three of them were up a good week before the first tomato sprouts. I hope they thrive. Can anyone point me to a safe canning recipe for salsa verde?

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 6:50AM
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