Totally Tomatillos

tomatillosHusk tomatoes, also known as tomatillos, can be very productive plants, producing 64 to 200 fruits per plant in a season. Tomatillos don’t like freezing, so should be planted after any danger of last frost. Planted as such, they will flower mid-June and ripen mid-July.

So then, what to do with too many tomatillos? A few options:

Tomatillos can be canned, whole. However, keep in mind that home-canned Tomatillos will be cooked until tender and softened, so if you like the firmer texture of tomatillos then you may prefer one of our other options.

Tomatillo Green Salsa is probably the most popular way to prepare, preserve, and serve husk tomatoes. You could also substitute green tomatoes in this recipe instead of tomatillos (but remember it is important not to make any changes to the proportion of tomatoes/tomatillos to lemon or lime juice, and that lemon or lime juice CANNOT be substituted for vinegar in this recipe). This recipe and directions are also available en Español: Salsa verde de tomatillo.

In contrast, Tangy Tomatillo Relish contains vinegar instead of lemon or lime juice, bell peppers instead of hot peppers and it also highlights the more unusual ingredient jicama. And that jicama provides a nice slightly crunchy texture to this relish compared to most others. The relish could be scooped like a salsa, spread on top of tacos, or mixed into prepared dishes.

For more about home-growing of tomatillos see Tomatillo by a Sonoma County Master Gardener with the University of California and for more about large-scale growing of tomatillos see the publication Tomatillo by University of Kentucky.

2 thoughts on “Totally Tomatillos

  1. Randal Oulton

    I see advice on some recipes that “you may substitute green tomatoes or tomatillos for tomatoes in any of these recipes” and “you may use green tomatoes … instead of tomatillos.” I can’t find in writing anywhere that it is okay to go the other way round, substitute tomatillos in place of green tomatoes. Given the low pH of tomatillos, would they make an acceptable substitute for green tomatoes? Or maybe that’s something that can’t be generalized.

    1. nchfp Post author

      Whereas the pH of tomatillos might be a substitution for the pH of green tomatoes, that does not mean they make an acceptable substitution for green tomatoes in all recipes for canning from the standpoint of flavor and consistency. The amount of green tomatoes in a certain recipe, for example, may be important to the amount of overall liquid, fibers, pectins and/or sugar in a recipe that interact with other ingredients in different ways. We just are not able to go through all recipes using green tomatoes and figure out what the corresponding transfer to using tomatillos might be. Canning processes do not get determined just by pH; the composition of the ingredients and their interactions also influence processes.

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