Knowing When to Pick Your Tomatillos

If you enjoy the taste of tomatillos, you might consider growing a couple of tomatillo plants instead of relying on fruits from the grocery store. Tomatillos can grow nearly anywhere, they are as simple to take care of as tomatoes are, and two plants can easily provide all of the fresh tomatillos you could want. The only problem might come from deciding when to pick them.

When to Harvest Tomatillos

If you are growing tomatillos for the first time, it is likely you have no idea when to harvest them. After all, they are green when they are ripe, so you cannot rely on changing color to decide when to pick them like you can with other produce.

It is necessary to know how long the growing time is for the variety of tomatillo you plant. Some types mature in about 70 days, while others take as long as 100 days to reach peak ripeness. Take note of the variety you planted and make a note on your calendar of the expected harvest date.

Tip: Keep in mind that not all of your tomatillos will ripen at the same time. Check daily to ensure you pick the best tomatillos.

How to Tell When Tomatillos Are Ripe

Since most types of ripe tomatillos are green, you will need to rely on other signs to determine when it is time to pick them. Look for the following signs:

  • The thin husk of the tomatillo will no longer contain the fruit. You will notice the shell has appeared to burst and you can see the fruit.
  • The husk will turn brown and feel dry, even if it hasn’t split open.
  • The fruit inside fills the entire shell.

Tip: You can still use small, unripe tomatillos but the flavor might not be as robust as you prefer.

How to Pick Tomatillos

Once you have determined that the tomatillos are ready to pick, arm yourself with a sharp knife and cut each fruit off of the vine. While pulling them off is possible, it is easy to damage the plant by doing so. Just cut the fruit off the growing stem. Although tomatoes and tomatillos are not the same thing, they both produce fruit up until the weather gets cold. Therefore, you want to protect the plants from damage while picking.

Tip: Tomatillos are covered with a sticky substance that will coat your hands when you pick them. This is normal and is not a cause for alarm.

How to Use Tomatillos

Once you have picked your tomatillos, you can use them in any of your favorite dishes. While the tangy flavor is commonly used in Mexican recipes, you can also use the raw fruit in salads, meat dishes, or any recipe you want to spice up a little. The tomatillo is a versatile fruit that you can use in countless ways.