Harvesting tomatillos is easy once you learn exactly when and how to do it. In this post, I’ll show you how to tell when tomatillos are ripe, the best way to pick them, and where to store them.
The steps for harvesting tomatillos are very simple! However, since they don’t usually change colors when they’re ripe, it’s hard to know exactly when to pick them.
It’s important to get them at the right time. If you gather them too early, they won’t be as sweet. But if you leave them on the plant for too long, they could crack or start to rot.
In this post, you’ll learn all you need to know so you can easily tell when they’re ready, and also how to properly pluck them. I’ll even give you some storage tips.
Here’s what you’ll find in this tomatillo harvesting guide…
What Does A Ripe Tomatillo Look Like?
Probably one of the hardest things about harvesting tomatillos is that they don’t really change colors when they are ripe.
Sometimes they can turn a tiny bit yellow when they’re ready. But for the most part, they stay green the whole time.
Don’t worry, it’s actually easy to tell when it’s time to pick them. You just have to know what to look for (and don’t let them trick you).
When To Pick Tomatillos
Tomatillos start out as cute lanterns or balloons (called husks). Sometimes these little lanterns will get huge long before the fruit inside is mature.
When that happens, you might think they’re ready. But one quick squeeze, and you’ll discover that the husks are empty. Yeah, they like to trick us!
One sure way to tell they’re ready to pick is when the outer husk splits open, and it looks like the fruit is busting out.
The husk may turn brown and papery once it splits open, or it might stay soft and green. Either way, a tomatillo is ready to harvest once the husk splits.
Another way to tell is when the husk turns brown, and becomes thin and papery. Once this happens, it means they’re ripe, even if the husk doesn’t open.
Tomatillos can also be harvested when they’re small, before the husk turns brown or splits open. They just won’t be as sweet.
So, if a hard freeze is coming, you can pick all the ones that are left on the plant, and still use the small ones for your recipes.
How To Harvest Tomatillos
Once you determine that a tomatillo is ready to harvest, it’s best to cut it from the plant rather than pulling it off.
But many times they will come off the vine easily with a gentle twist. Just don’t tug or force them from the plant, or you could damage the stem.
Take care to gently place them into your collection bucket or basket, rather than dropping or tossing them in. Mishandling them could cause the skins to crack, or it can bruise the fruit.
Related Post: Free Garden Harvest Tracking Sheet & Guide
How Often To Harvest Tomatillos
You can harvest tomatillos any time they are ready. If you live in a cold climate like I do, you’ll probably get the bulk of your yield in late summer through fall.
You could start seeing them ripen much earlier than that though. So, check on your plants regularly, and pick off any ripe ones as they appear.
What To Do With Tomatillos After Harvesting
You can use freshly harvested tomatillos right away, or you could refrigerate them. They will stay good in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.
Otherwise, freeze them for longer term storage. Just remove the husks, and pop them into a freezer safe bag. That way you can enjoy them all winter long!
Related Post: How To Grow Tomatillos From Seed & When To Plant
FAQs About Harvesting Tomatillos
You may still have some questions about picking tomatillos. Below are answers to a few of the most common. But if I haven’t answered yours here, then feel free to ask it in the comments below.
Can you eat unripe tomatillos?
Yes, tomatillos don’t need to ripe in order to use or eat them. The small, unripe fruits are just fine to eat. However, they are not as sweet and flavorful as the ripe fruits are.
Why is a tomatillo husk empty?
If the husk around your tomatillos is empty, the fruit simply hasn’t started forming yet (or it’s super small). The husk grows before the fruit, and will stay closed until it is ripe and ready to harvest. Just be patient.
Can you harvest tomatillos early?
Yes, you can harvest tomatillos at any time. In fact, if it is about to freeze outside, I recommend picking any that have developed so they won’t be destroyed.
However, they tend to be harder, and not as sweet when they are small. So it’s best to allow them to ripen on the plant whenever possible.
Harvesting tomatillos is easy, but the trick is knowing how to tell when they are ripe. Once you learn what to look for, you’ll know exactly when to pick them for the freshest and sweetest flavor.
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Share your tips for harvesting tomatillos in the comments section below.