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General information and discussion about cultivating tomatillos.

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Old April 20, 2013   #1
brokenbar
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Default Totally Tomatillo

Wow...we have so many new members! I thought I would post my Tomatillo information for the benefit of any who have never grown them. Tomatillos are one of my favorite things to grow but frankly, they are rude!

They will crowd, choke and grow over their unlucky tomato or pepper flatmates in the greenhouse faster than you can believe. You will re-pot them way to many times because they grow about 3 times as fast as tomatoes ( so don't start them too early...)

In the garden, they are a plant on steroids. I live in Mexico and they grow wild here. They completely take over and choke out all other things in their path. You must stake them because if you don't, they will sprawl at an alarming rate and your tomato and pepper plants will be in peril. One woman wrote on her blog "Thank God they are not frost hardy or they would take over the world..." She isn't kidding.

Did I mention they re-seed with a vengeance? I keep black plastic under my plants and keep dropped fruit picked up but even then...I still get little tomatillo plants coming up in the most unlikely places. Frankly, I grow them and the other juvenile delinquent plants (cherry tomatoes, dill, cilantro) in a "special" area all their own. The soil is lousy, there are lots of little rocks and the sun bakes on it 15 hours a day and yet they thrive...go figure.

After all the negatives one is probably wondering why anyone would grow them...SALSA VERDE....a staple in my cooking and in my families meals. In Mexico, they use it on and in everything. I have posted many great recipes using tomatillos here on the forum.

The varieties I grow are:

Cisneros
Grand Maje
Large Purple (From Bakercreek Heirlooms) It is about 3 times the size of the little gumball shaped purple tomatillos one commonly sees.

In addition to salsa verde, I allow some of my green varieties to trun yellow which is when they become very sweet. I cook them into a sauce and can it. I can then open a jar and add mango's, a little red onion, hot peppers and some lime juice for a delicious spicey/sweet salsa.

I use the purple variety for Salsa Violetta, a new family favorite and the single item I can for which I get the most requests. It is also a hot/sweet sauce, a lovely color and terrific served over chicken or pork.

If you have never tried Salsa Verde, you are missing out. My garden would never be complete without tomatillos, no matter what a pain in the behind they are. Those giant plants, loaded with fruit just make you smile!
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Last edited by brokenbar; April 21, 2013 at 05:01 PM.
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Old April 20, 2013   #2
Sun City Linda
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I remember how freely they reseed!

Last edited by Sun City Linda; April 20, 2013 at 10:52 PM. Reason: typo
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Old April 20, 2013   #3
tlintx
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Is salsa verde similar to tex-mex green sauce? Have you ever made tomatillo jam?

I am thinking about pairing mango-tomatillo salsa with Yellowfin tacos. Now I'm hungry.

Oh, and do you really need two tomatillos for a crop?
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Old April 21, 2013   #4
spacetogrow
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Thank you for the info.

I think I read somewhere that you can bury the stem of leggy tomatillo transplants like you can with tomatoes. Does that sound right?
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Old April 21, 2013   #5
brokenbar
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Salsa Verde is Mexican green sauce. I also use it for enchilada sauce. You do need two plants for pollination. And yes, you can bury the stem (you might need a backhoe) I pretty much have to tie my tomatillo plants up every day as they seem to go into overdrive at night. Use large circumference string/twine on tomatillos as the stems are not nearly as tough as tomato plants and fine twine will cut right through them. The varieties I listed are not as susceptible to fruit drop in the wind as some others.

When I lived in Wyoming, neighbors loved getting 5 gallons of processed tomatillo sauce from me (tomato sauce also...then had "radar" and always seemed to turn up when I was processing something )
My Mexican neighbors have been fascinated with my drying technique for my tomatoes and now they are all drying their as well. I have no idea why, but none of them dried tomatoes previously. They dry SCADS of chili's as well as spices.

Mango salsa / yellowfin tacos...I am drooling. We can go to the docks and get fresh fish every day so now that is on my list.
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Old April 21, 2013   #6
socalgardengal
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I'll take some tacos please! I'm growing tomatillos for the first time. Potting up today to 1 gallon containers and can't wait to see them fruit. Thanks for all the info
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Old April 21, 2013   #7
Cole_Robbie
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I like my tomatillo sauce on pork and chicken. I cover a pork chop with it, wrap in foil, and grill. The sauce cooks down and the acidity of it makes the meat tender. Baked chicken is good with it, too.
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Old April 21, 2013   #8
brokenbar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cole_Robbie View Post
I like my tomatillo sauce on pork and chicken. I cover a pork chop with it, wrap in foil, and grill. The sauce cooks down and the acidity of it makes the meat tender. Baked chicken is good with it, too.
My Husband does the same thing except he uses fresh shrimp. Sadly, I am allergic to shellfish DRATS
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Old April 21, 2013   #9
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My all time favorite use for tomatillos is in Chili Verde made with chunks of pork shoulder cooked to the point where the meat is fall apart tender. The process is similar to making a beef stew, except the base is roasted tomatillos and garlic blended together with peppers such as jalapeños and poblanos, and a whole lot of cilantro. It's on of our favorite winter dinners.

Thanks for the insight on growing them, Brokenbar. I always wondered how much different they would be to grow than tomatoes.
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Old April 25, 2013   #10
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I have tomatillos that pop up everywhere from the previous gardener. I always re-pot half a dozen or so and find a suitable spot for them. Chile Verde with pork shoulder is also one of my very favorite things to make from the tomatillos
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Old April 25, 2013   #11
austinnhanasmom
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I love verde salsa.

I canned tomatillo salsa 2 seasons ago and I didn't love the finished product.

BUT, I found this authentic Mexican restaurant that served the most amazing salsa verde.

I added 2 avocados, and a bit of creme frache, to my canned salsa and after immersion blending, it is HEAVEN!

I didn't grow tomatillos last year but bought a plant this year. I guess I need to go buy another - for pollination . The plant that I bought has blooms and even little fruits, but any excuse to return to the nursery is good for me!

I bought some very small tomatillos at a Mexican grocer last fall and found that they make a sweeter verde. I saved seeds but then failed to start them this year, so I'm not sure they will sprout.
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Old April 25, 2013   #12
BucksCountyGirl
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I guess this might be a silly question given the colorful description of plant habit above, but do you think it would be possible to grow them in containers? That way I could keep them in my driveway, safely away from my better behaved veggies.
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Old April 25, 2013   #13
Iva
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Just have two pics to add, I love tomatillos too:


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Old April 25, 2013   #14
Patihum
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Definitely going to check the recipe and preserving forum for your posts! I've been mostly growing them for my husband's chili verde. He smokes the pork shoulder first and then makes the chili. Wonderful stuff on eggs in the morning. I guess I started mine too early because I've already repotted them once and some are flowering. I've been picking the flowers off. The soil is still too cold to plant here besides the fact that the other morning it was 30 degrees.
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Old April 25, 2013   #15
brokenbar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BucksCountyGirl View Post
I guess this might be a silly question given the colorful description of plant habit above, but do you think it would be possible to grow them in containers? That way I could keep them in my driveway, safely away from my better behaved veggies.
They grow great in 5 gallon buckets. It does contain them some but I had a friend who had a 7 foot plus one in a 5 gallon bucket!
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