This year for the first time we are growing tomatillos at Sow and So. We are big fans of Mexican cuisine and I have been eagerly anticipating making my own salsa verde.
Tomatillos (Physalis Philadelphica) are part of the nightshade family, bearing small round green fruits which are surrounded by an inedible paper-like husk. The husk opens up when the fruit matures. The fruits remain green or purple-green when ripe and they should be firm when picked. They have a tart flavor due to their high pectin content.
As with a lot of sun-loving plants such as tomatoes, chilli peppers and capsicum, tomatillos need at least 20ºC/68ºF to germinate. If you don’t already have a heated propagator then I highly recommend you get one. Sow seeds in February and March and plant out in April and May.
It is very important to grow at least two or more tomatillos together to ensure pollination – an isolated tomatillo will rarely set fruit. I have planted mine in pots in the conservatory, helping pollination by brushing my finger from flower to flower (we don’t get a lot of pollinators indoors!).
As I mentioned, tomatillos are used in a variety of Latin American green sauces but they are also great as a replacement for green tomatoes in chutneys or stews. My tomatillos are still at the flowering stage so I can’t show you any photos of prepared dishes but I did find a few really nice recipes for you to see the value in growing them yourself. For those of us living in a temperate climate it’s probably too late to sow your Tomatillos right now but bear them in mind when you are ordering your seeds for next season…