Tomatillo Salsa

31 May 2018
I first came across tomatillos in a Diggers catalogue and I was intrigued. Being a sucker for a novel vegetable in the seed catalogue I quickly ordered a packet and gave them a go. I can happily say they've been a great addition to the garden and the preserving cupboard.

Tomatillos come from Mexico and you'll come across them in many Mexican recipes. The most well known use is Salsa Verde (not to be confused with the Italian herb based sauce). They can also be added to raw salsas or, according to my daughter, enjoyed like an apple straight off the vine (generally when they are on the riper side of things like the front fruit in the pic below).

If you are looking for a new vegetable to add to the garden that crops well and doesn't take much maintenance, or too much water, then definitely consider tomatillos. I've always raised the seeds about six weeks before planting out time, and then plant them out in the garden at the same time as tomatoes.

This past summer I didn't plant them until late December, so I wasn't sure how well they'd go. I was pleasantly surprised to harvest quite a good crop from the three plants. Enough to enjoy a few fresh and put up two batches of Salsa Verde.

Tomatillo plant with flowers and fruit in their wrappings.

The fruit has a long ripening time and generally I don't start harvesting them until March. This year I started harvesting late March right through until May. The tomatillos grow inside a paper husk, much like a cape gooseberry, and are ripe when they start to split their papery wrapper.

To make tomatillo salsa I generally follow this ball preserving recipe - with a few adjustments of course! Usually I cut things pretty roughly (or not at all) and blitz with my stick blender once the ingredients have softened. If I don't have any fresh coriander on hand, which is often the case at the end of summer, I substitute for 2 teaspoons ground coriander or seeds. It's a great quick and easy preserving recipe and a handy thing to have in the cupboard. I use this salsa on top of nachos or Mexican bowls for a zesty lift.

Tomatillos ready to cook down.

Salsa in the jar for some mid winter zestiness.

Have you ever grown or eaten tomatillos?
Any other unusual vegetables you can recommend for giving a go in the garden?


  1. Laura they certainly do look like cape goosberry husks. We have those growing here but no tomatillos. What an interesting plant. I grew bitter melons last year which apparently are very good for you but they must be an acquired taste I think :-)

    1. I haven't tried bitter melons Chel. Perhaps I wont rush out and grow them though.

  2. Yes I have! (eaten tomatillos). I love watching (and have one of her cookbooks) Pati's Mexican Table. I love it as salsa and chips, also on beef, and eggs. I've heard you get a plentiful crop if you grow them. I'm the only one who likes them so I don't grow them. Andrea

    1. I must check out Pati's Mexican Table - thanks for the tip Andrea.

  3. I have vowed for 2 years to make tomatillo salsa and I still have not.....maybe this year! Have you ever grown cucamelons? They look like teeny tiny watermelons but taste more like a cucumber. They are cute and delicious in salads.

    1. This is the year Staci! I've never grown cucamelons, but funny you should mention them as I had the chance to try them at the end of summer this year and managed to score some seeds so they are on the planting list for upcoming spring/summer. I look forward to experimenting with them and I suspect my girls will be happy eating them straight from the vine.


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