Monday, August 25, 2014

When Should You Pick Your Tomatillos? (and other information about shy tomatoes)

This was a question I wouldn't have ever imagined having to google a few years ago.  We picked up four tiny tomatillo plant seedlings at the market this spring and are completely amazed at the size of these plants.  We let them get a little out of hand, and we now have tomatillos everywhere! 

They are even climbing up the sunflowers that are towering over the garden.

So, to answer my question above, when harvesting them you wait until the husk starts to separate, and turn brown.  It's pretty easy to tell, and they'll snap right off the vine almost as easily as a tomato. Brian actually started plucking them right away when the husk split and they were still green, but they ripened up in the fridge over a couple weeks before I came home.

This one's ready to go.

We learned even more about tomatillos this year when one of our plant's tomatillos had a definite purple look to them, and we had to google that too.  Apparently one of our four plants was of the purple variety.  Most of them were really only purple on the outside (maybe not all the way ripe), but several were purple all the way through like this one.

And I remembered that the great thing about tomatillos compared to tomatoes is that you do NOT have to skin or seed them, as you might tomatoes.  We used the recipe from the Ball Blue Book cookbook (rather than my old recipe here, which isn't a proven canning recipe), and actually canned our first months worth of fruit, almost 8 pounds worth.  I haven't canned in a good decade or so, since my bad jelly incident in 2003, and found it time consuming but worthwhile.

Tomatillo salsa has a definite sweetness to it that you don't get from tomato salsa.  

In other garden related news, we brought back some of my grandma's cucumbers from her beautiful, meticulous garden, and made some fridge pickles based on this recipe here from the food in jars website.  I have never made homemade pickles before, but I normally go through at least a jar of dill pickles every week so these have been fun to have on hand.
Our other main harvest from our garden have been tomatoes.  Brian brought a tomato plant home from work one day (a freebie someone was getting rid of), and we transplanted it into one of my patio pots, thinking it would be a small balcony plant.  But after it was damaged in the first storm that came by, I replaced it thinking it wouldn't survive.  We put it down in the garden just in case it did, and it sure surpassed all our expectations by doing well.  We let it get as large as it could within the garden, and have already taken 5 pounds of edible fruit from it.  It definitely taught me some lessons in patience and expectations.  We made about 3.5 jars worth of spaghetti sauce out of our tomatoes so far, and expect to get a few more jars worth.

And our tiny little plot of garden is not done yet!  I'm hoping to harvest the sunflowers, and after Brian harvested all the corn a couple of pepper plants that we had given up on long ago surfaced and are maturing everyday!  Plus we've had lots of beautiful flowers all season.  I think our first year having a back-yard and garden was a success.

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