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How to Harvest and Store Tomatillos

TomatillosTomatillos are ready to harvest when the papery husk surrounding the fruit turns from green to tan and begins to split.

Tomatillos are ready to harvest 75 to 100 days after sowing, 65 to 85 days from transplanting. 

When to Harvest Tomatillos

  • Tomatillos are ready to harvest when the papery husk surrounding the fruit turns from green to tan and begins to split; the fruit itself will be bright green, purple, or yellow depending on the variety.
  • A mature tomatillo will be the size of a cherry tomato or slightly larger. Smaller fruit is often sweeter than larger fruit.
  • Plants bear fruit for 1 to 2 months or until the first frost.
  • Pick fruit at 7- to 14-day intervals to keep the plant producing.
  • One tomatillo plant can produce 60 to 200 fruits in a growing season, about 2½ pounds per plant.
  • Tomatillos will be past ripe when the gloss of the fruit dulls.
Ripe tomatillos on plant
Tomatillos will separate from the vine with a light twist.

How to Harvest Tomatillos

  • Harvest tomatillos by giving fruits a light twist or snipping them from the plant with a garden pruner or scissors.
  • Peel back a small part of the husk, the fruit should be nearly blemished free. If the fruit is sticky when you remove the husk just wash it with mild soapy water.
Store tomatillos
Store tomatillos in their husks for about two weeks in a paper bag in the vegetable crisper section of the refrigerator.

How to Store Tomatillos

  • Tomatillos are best used fresh and green. They are less juicy and more richly flavored than a tomato. Raw tomatillos have a zesty, tart flavor that develops an herbal lemon flavor when cooked.
  • Store tomatillos in their husks for about two weeks in a paper bag in the vegetable crisper section of the refrigerator (55° to 60°F/12°15°C and 85 to 90 percent humidity). Tomatillos will suffer chilling injury if stored below 41°F (5°C).
  • Do not store tomatillos with apples or bananas which give off a natural gas called ethylene; ethylene will cause tomatillos to darken in storage.
  • Tomatillos can be frozen or canned for later use. To freeze tomatillos, remove the husk, wash the fruit, and freeze them whole in a freezer container or bag. Double bagging will prevent freezer burn.

Also of interest:

How to Grow Tomatillos.

Tomatillo: Kitchen Basics

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66 Comments

  1. decided to grow tomatillos on a whim this year, they’re now going berserk and i needed advice/instructions. this article had EVERYthing i wanted to know in it! thank you Very much!

  2. Thank you for this site and information. I have a question however..my sister grew tomatillos in a platic garden pot, and kept them very well watered — almost too wet by my judgement. They grew nicely however, most of them getting as large 2-1/ to 3 inches diameter. We just harvested them.and I took off the husks and washed them, and many of them had split, and not just once but several times in multiple directions. What would cause them to split ?

    • The skin of tomatillos–like tomatoes–will split when the watering is irregular when the soil goes dry and then wet and then dry again. The uptake of water stretches the plant cells and then they contract when the soil goes dry. Back and forth, back and forth–the cell walls weaken, like an inflated and deflated balloon, and then they split. The fruit can still be eaten as long as mold or rot has not taken hold. Next year, if you are growing in a container, choose a larger container that will hold more soil; hopefully the soil will not go dry in warm weather.

      • Thank you so much ! We’ll be sure to do bigger pots if not even get them in the ground. Thanks also to others’ comments on this site, especially that they need at least two plants for cross pollination. Bless you all and thanks again.!

  3. I have only one tomatillo plant and it pollinated just fine! Tons of fruit. And none in the neighbors’ yards, as far as I can tell. I do have tomatoes, too, though. Could they cross pollinate?

    • Tomatillos can be harvested at various stages of development. Yes, you can harvest tomatillos that are not fully ripe as long as they are bright colored (green or purple depending on the variety) and the fruits are well formed and have substantially filled the husk. Set them on the counter out of direct sunlight and they will continue to ripen. Over-mature tomatillos will turn light colored–they will lose their deep color; these fruits will turn sweet and will be undesirable for most uses.

  4. I have over a 100 small tomatillos on my two bushes. Some are white, but the rest are green. They are about the size of a quarter. Are they edible? Can they be used is salsas, stews, etc,?

    • The small, white tomatillos are likely not yet ready for harvest; when they turn green they can be harvested. Place a frame over the plants and cover the frame with clear plastic sheeting to create a mini-greenhouse. The air temperature under the plastic will be 20 degrees warmer than the outside air temperature on sunny days. This should give the small fruits a chance to mature and ripen. Clip off any flowers on the plant; this will allow the plant to ripen the fruit already set.

  5. Will the tomatillo plant continue to produce fruit after the first pick? The main stalk is growing new shoots and I don’t want to pull it out if more comi g.

    • Tomatillos will continue to produce new fruit as long as temperatures stay warm–the 70s to 80sF are optimal. Harvest the fruits as soon as they are ready so that the plant continues to produce new flowers. If you let fruit linger on the plant, the plant will assume it’s season is nearing the end and will stop producing new flowers.

  6. Every year I try and plant something new and this year its tomatillo and my vines are full! Thank you for this article explaining everything I needed to know!

  7. Thank you for the info on this site! I also grew tomatillo plants on a whim this year and now I know how/when to harvest! Look forward to reading your other posts.

  8. Amazing article! I grew a couple of years back and made a top on sweet green salsa (salsa verde) This year i planted 4 and forgot a lot about them. Reading this gave me so much information that was easy to understand and save for later reference. Thank you. I cant wait for this years harvest.

  9. Recently found you can make salsa with raw tomatillo:
    Equal amounts of avocado & tomatillo
    1/2 onion, 1or 2 serranos, cilantro, put in blender
    or food processor. Delicious, added spices is optional.
    Keeps well for a few days, develops liquid so I skip lime juice.

  10. Thanks for sharing this article. This is my second year growing tomatillos and it’s definitely worth it!
    This year is producing so much fruit however, the larger fruit (husk hasn’t turned tan yet but the fruit is filling the husk) seems to be getting rot on the bottom of it. I have only picked three tomatillos so far this year but all three had rot. Thoughts on what might be causing this and what I can do to avoid it?

    • The plants need calcium and magnesium. Get an all-purpose fertilizer with calcium and magnesium added such as Lily Miller Mor-Crop or feed/water the plants with 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt mixed in a gallon of water. The rot is called blossom-end rot; the cell walls are not strong; they need calcium and magnesium. Always keep the soil just moist so the plants take up the nutrients consistently.

  11. Love your site. First time growing tomatillos and our 4 plants are loaded with fruit. I picked one whose husk was mostly
    ran. After taking the husk off I found the bottom of the fruit was black,, moldy, and mushy, almost like a bad case of
    blossom end rot found in tomatoes. Is this possible? Keep up the good work, you are now bookmarked on my computer.

    • Yes, tomatillos can experience blossom end rot. Grow the tomatillo like tomato or pepper; give the plants calcium and magnesium to build strong cell walls. The first early fruits may have end rot, but later fruits should be ok. Keep the soil evenly moist so the plants take up calcium and magnesium from the soil.

  12. I planted my first tomatillo plant (just the one) in my garden this year, right before Mother’s Day. I have plenty of fruit on them but when I touch the husk to feel for fruit on the inside they are all very small, like the size of a cherry tomato… but the husk is normal tomatillo size.. any suggestions on what to do??

    • Tomatillos can vary in size from large cherry tomato size to golf ball size. For the fruit to grow to full size, you want to be sure the soil stays evenly moist–that the uptake of moisture to the plant cells is not interrupted. Additionally, you can feed the plants every 10 days with a dilute solution of fish emulsion or kelp meal. Or you can give the plants an organic 5-10-10 fertilizer once a month.

  13. Our garden is on the West coast. We put in one purple tomatillo plant 3 years ago and they have been volunteering all over the garden ever since. huge and sprawling and loaded with fruit- I was sad to do it, but had to take out several that volunteered next to my summer squashes. I came to your site hoping to find out if it was ok to harvest all the fruits on the plants I took out. they’re young but bright green, and very tasty. Im going to try that raw Tomatillo/avocado salsa! Thanks for all your great information!

  14. I have a question about tomatillos that I hope you can answer. I have three plants that are growing well in 5 gallon buckets. The ones on either end are growing perfectly normal looking tomatillos. The plant in the middle however is not. The tomatillos are growing outside the husk. Do you know what causes it to grow like that?

    Thanks for any help you can provide.

    Linda Shaffer

    • If the husks have split or separated, the fruit may grow outside or beside the husk. The cause likely environmental. These fruits should still be viable. The fruits will be ready for harvest when they turn from dull to bright colored.

  15. Thanks so much for the info! I planted a couple of Tomatillo plants this year and while they took some time to produce , the plants are now loaded with “green lanterns.” They are in a bed with Jalapeno, Ancho and Anaheim peppers. (salsa bed)

    Can’t wait to try them!

    • Tomatillos are perennial in subtropical regions; they will survive through the warm winter months and produce again next year. If you live where frost and freezing weather comes in winter, the tomatillo will not survive frost. You can compost it.

  16. Great info! Thank you, everyone, for the Q&A. My question is regarding how heavy (and large!) my fruit is. I planted the start with a tomato cage, not really knowing what I was doing. Now the branches are bending and dropping over the top of the cage due to the weight and height. I’m not sure what I could have done differently, but I’m definitely taking suggestions 😊

    • Next season you can use a large cage; you can also stake the plant and support heavy branches with ties. The alternative is to thin some of the fruits before branches break.

  17. It is supposed to freeze tonight, so I have harvested all the tomatillos of a reasonable size, and have a couple of bushels. Some are full size, some small.
    There is no space remaining in my fridge, so I am wondering how to go about processing these: they are bright green, but if you take the paper off they turn purple. I will process the largest ones and freeze them.
    My question is what to do with the smaller ones: should I immediately process them too, or leave them out to ripen like I would a tomato? If I do that, should I take the paper off or no?
    Thanks for any advice.

    • Leave the paper on the tomatillo until it is ripe. If the fruit has reached its mature size it will ripen off the vine. However, the flavor will not be as good as plant ripened fruit–even when cooked.

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