Tomatillos (Physalis ixocarpa) are commonly known as husk tomatoes, miltomates, Mexican green tomatoes,
jamberberries, and strawberry tomatoes. The plant is a member of the nightshade (Solanaceae) family, as
are tomato, potato, eggplant, and pepper. You will want to leaves a lot of space when growing
tomatillos as they are bushy. Plants can spread to a height of 3 to 4 feet with a similar spread. Plants are indeterminate—they keep flowering and bearing fruit
until killed by frost. I don't support my plants, but you can use cages or other means to support them.
The fruiting structures resemble Chinese lanterns. They consist of rounded, 1- to 2-inch tomato-like fruit
enclosed in thin, papery husks. At maturity, the fruit are yellowish-green, smooth, and sticky. Tomatillos are firmer
than tomatoes. I find the flavor very unique and unlike anything else I have eaten. It has some tomato, lemon, and even pear tastes.
The fruit is great sauteed or grilled. Tomatillos are usually started indoors and then transplanted
outdoors after the danger of frost is past. In warmer climate you can direct seeded outdoors. However, because of their long
growing season, they will not be as productive. I prefer to start seedlings indoors 6 to 8 weeks before I plant them.
Tomatillos need full sun, adequate moisture and don't like weeds. I use a straw mulch to help conserve moisture and
keep out weeds.
I find that slugs like the tomatillos so watch for those. You can store the fruit in the refrigerator for up to two weeks but the flavor is best in the first few days after picking.
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