A relative of the tomato, tomatillos originate from South America. Unlike tomatoes, tomatillos develop inside a green papery hood. They taste somewhat like a green pepper combined with fruity lime juice, and are great for making salsa, sauces, and soups. Tomatillos are best eaten when green and young, about the size of a ping pong ball or a little smaller. When mature, tomatillos start to turn purple and develop a more sour flavour.
Tomatillos are remarkably hardy and grow well in the UK climate. The plants are easy to grow from seed in the spring, and are much easier to care for than tomatoes, as they do not need pruning or staking. The plants grow quite tall and wide, but will be happy in the same size pot used for tomatoes, or planted directly in soil once the last frost has passed. Tomatillos grow well inside a polytunnel or greenhouse, but this is not required to secure a harvest. Tomatillos self seed freely so, with luck, you may find young plants growing around your garden or plot the following year that can be nurtured to harvest.
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