Purple Tomatillo: Description, Flavor, Benefits, And Uses

The Purple Tomatillo, sometimes called the husk tomato, is a small, round fruit native to Central and South America. It grows in a papery husk and has a unique flavor ranging from sweet to tart. Purple Tomatillos are becoming increasingly popular in the United States and are frequently used in Mexican cuisine. Their distinct purple hue sets them apart from other tomatillos, making them especially attractive in salads and salsas. Here, we’ll explore what Purple Tomatillos are and how to use them.

What is Purple Tomatillo?

Purple Tomatillo is a unique variety with a deep purple hue and a sweet, tangy flavor. Unlike its green counterpart, the Purple Tomatillo is a bit sweeter and has notes of citrus that make it perfect for sauces, salsas, and other recipes. It’s also popular in salads, soups, and other savory dishes.

The Purple Tomatillo is high in antioxidants, Vitamin C, and Vitamin A, making it a healthy meal choice. It’s also easy to grow in gardens or containers and can be harvested over the summer for a fresh taste. The Purple Tomatillo will surely be a hit in your kitchen with its unique flavor and color.

Purple Tomatillo Description

History and Origin of Purple Tomatillo:

The Purple Tomatillo (Physalis philadelphica) is a member of the nightshade family, Solanaceae. It is native to Central and South America and has been used for generations in traditional cuisine. It was first reported by the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century and was later introduced to Europe and other parts of the world.

The Purple Tomatillo is an annual plant growing up to 1.5 meters tall with an upright and branching stem. Its leaves are heart-shaped, and its flowers have five purple petals. As the name suggests, the fruit is a purple-colored tomato-like fruit enclosed in a papery husk. The Purple Tomatillo is a close relative of the common tomatillo, but its fruits are larger and have a sweeter flavor.

Description of the Purple Tomatillo:

The Purple Tomatillo is a variety of tomatillo, a small round tomato-like fruit with an outer husk. It is approximately 2-3 cm (0.8-1.2 inches) in diameter and grows on the vine in clusters of three to five fruits. It has a deep purple color and is firm and juicy when ripe. 

The flavor is slightly tart, with hints of sweetness and smokiness. This tomatillo variety can be eaten raw, cooked, or used to make salsas and sauces. It is also a popular ingredient in Mexican cuisine. Purple Tomatillos are a great source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, iron, calcium, and magnesium.

Flavor Profile of Purple Tomatillo:

The flavor profile of Purple Tomatillo is complex and unique. It has a sweet yet tart taste with hints of citrus, lemon, and slight smokiness. The texture resembles a traditional tomato but with a bit more crunch. Purple tomatillo adds color and flavor to any dish, from salsa to salads to soups. It’s also a great addition to guacamole for a pop of color and flavor. This unique vegetable can also be roasted, grilled, or even baked for a variety of delicious dishes.

Health Benefits of Purple Tomatillo: 

Purple Tomatillo is a superfood packed with essential nutrients and vitamins that can improve your overall health. Rich in Vitamin A, it helps to maintain healthy eyesight and skin. Its high levels of Vitamin C help to boost immunity, while its high folate content is great for cardiovascular health and fertility. It is also a good source of dietary fiber, helping to support digestive health and improve cholesterol levels.

The purple tomatillo can be cooked in various ways, from fried or roasted in salads, as a salsa, or in other recipes like ceviche. Its unique flavor, texture, and color make it a versatile ingredient. With all these health benefits, the purple tomatillo is an excellent choice for adding to your diet.

Cultivation of the Purple Tomatillo: 

Once the seeds have been sown in peat pots, they should be placed in a warm and sunny location with temperatures between 65 and 75°F (18 -24°C). The soil should be kept moist but not overly wet. Once the seedlings are 2-3 inches tall (5-7 cm), thin them out to about 12 inches apart (30 cm) and transplant them into a garden bed or container filled with rich, well-draining soil. Be sure to water the plants regularly and place mulch in the area over the roots to retain moisture. The tomatillo plants should be spaced apart at 3 feet (90 cm), and stakes should be placed around each plant for support as they grow larger.

When the plants are about 2 feet (60 cm)tall, they should be pruned for maximum production. Pruning is done by cutting off the top growth of stems and leaves to encourage the plants to branch out and produce more fruit. The tomatillos will produce a purple paper-like husk that will turn yellowish when ripe. Harvesting can begin when the husks become yellowish and start to open. Tomatillos can be eaten fresh or used in cooking.

Harvesting of the Purple Tomatillo:

Harvesting of the Purple Tomatillo usually occurs when the fruits reach 1.5 – 2 cm in diameter or are firm to the touch. Fruits should be harvested at a deep purple color before beginning to split, indicating that they have reached maturity.

The plant will continue to produce fruits until frost, so for optimal harvest, it’s important to check the plants every few days and harvest as often as possible. It is also recommended to pick the fruits early in the morning when they are still cool from the night before. Once harvested, Purple Tomatillo can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to two weeks.

Harvested Purple Tomatillo

Where Does Purple Tomatillo Grow? 

This vegetable is native to Mexico and Guatemala. It has adapted to other climates through cultivation. In California, purple tomatillo is commercially grown in the Central Valley, where temperatures reach as high as 90°F (32°C). The hot weather helps the tomatillos mature quickly and produces a larger crop size.

In Texas, growers have developed an outdoor garden variety. These tomatillos thrive in the semi-arid climate and can withstand longer summer days than other varieties. In Florida, the purple tomatillo is grown year-round and yields a sweet tomato-like flavor when harvested at the peak of ripeness.

In Europe, the purple tomatillo is beginning to be cultivated in greenhouses due to its frost sensitivity. It has been noted to produce larger fruit and higher yields when grown in cooler climates, such as the Netherlands. In Asia, purple tomatillo is grown in many countries, including India, Thailand, Vietnam, and Taiwan. The temperate climate of these countries allows for a longer growing season and yields larger plants with better-sized fruits.

Purple tomatillos are also grown in Africa and South America. More research needs to be done to determine the best growing conditions for this unique fruit in these areas. This vegetable will become a staple in many households with its high nutritional content. You can find purple tomatillo seeds and plants worldwide at most nurseries and garden centers. 

What are the things you need to keep in mind when buying Purple Tomatillo?

  1. Check for freshness: Make sure the tomatillos you purchase are bright green and not too soft or bruised. You want to get the freshest Purple Tomatillo possible.
  2. Choose firm fruits: Look for firm and unblemished fruits that are of a uniform size, free from defects, and have no discoloration or soft spots.
  3. Don’t overdo it: Purple Tomatillos don’t have an extremely long shelf life, so only buy what you can use within a few days of purchasing them.
  4. Store properly: Keep the tomatillos in the refrigerator in an unsealed plastic bag or container for up to three days. If you want to store them longer, you can freeze them for up to 3 months.
  5. Know the color: Purple is not always the same shade and may range from deep eggplant-colored skin to a lighter lavender hue, depending on variety and ripeness.
  6. Taste test: As with any fruit, try a tomatillo before you buy and see if it fits your liking. Some varieties can have a more tart taste than others.
  7. Remember, freshness and quality are key when purchasing Purple Tomatillos! Enjoy your delicious purple fruits. 
  8. Look for organic: If possible, look for organic tomatillos since they are much less likely to be sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals. Be sure to read the label carefully before making your purchase.
  9. Know the season: Purple Tomatillos are available from late summer into fall, so be aware of when they’re in the season before purchasing them. The best time to buy them is when they’re at their peak ripeness which will offer optimal flavor. Furthermore, fresh tomatoes also tend to cost less during the season’s height. As always, shop smartly and enjoy all that nature has to offer.

What is the Best Way to Store Purple Tomatillo?

The best way to store Purple Tomatillos is to keep them dry in a cool and dark place. Ensure the area has plenty of ventilation, as high humidity can cause the fruits to spoil quickly. Once harvested or purchased, the tomatillos should be stored in a perforated plastic bag or container with ventilation holes at room temperature for up to two weeks. 

For longer-term storage, tomatillos should be wrapped individually in paper towels and placed in labeled sealed containers or zip-top bags before refrigeration for up to eight weeks. If freezing is desired, the tomatillos should first be cooked, peeled, and then frozen for long-term storage. When thawed, the texture of the tomatillo will be altered, but they can still be used in various recipes.

When using frozen tomatillos, it’s important to ensure they are completely thawed before use and to avoid refreezing them, as this may cause the fruits to spoil more quickly. Proper storage is key in ensuring the maximum freshness of Purple Tomatillo for longer periods. Enjoy your delicious and nutritious Purple Tomatillos.

How to Use Purple Tomatillo in Recipes with Others?

Purple Tomatillos can be used in various recipes, including salsas, salads, and soups. They are great for adding sweetness and a unique flavor to any dish.When using Purple Tomatillos in recipes with other ingredients, it’s important to remember that they are quite tart, so it’s best to balance the flavors by adding sweeter elements such as onions or garlic. You can add spices, such as cumin or chili powder, to create a more savory dish.

To make the salsa:

  1. Combine diced purple tomatillos with chopped onion and garlic and season with salt and pepper.
  2. For extra heat, try experimenting with jalapenos or another type of chili pepper.
  3. If you prefer a sweeter salsa, add some diced mango or pineapple for a delicious fruity flavor.
  4. In salads, purple tomatillos can add vivid color and flavor. To make a simple salad, combine diced tomatillos with cucumbers and red onion, then season with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. You could also use chopped cilantro for an extra bit of freshness.

Finally, you can use purple tomatillos in soups such as gazpacho or tortilla soup. Puree the tomatillos with vegetable broth and seasonings before adding them to the soup pot and other ingredients such as vegetables or meat. Blend the tomatillos with a little sour cream or yogurt before adding it to the pot for a more creamy soup. No matter how you choose to use Purple Tomatillos in your recipes, they will surely add a unique flavor and color to any dish. 


Purple Tomatillos are versatile in various recipes, including salsas, salads, and soups. They are great for adding sweetness and a unique flavor to any dish. Whether you use them in savory or sweet dishes, Purple Tomatillos will add more flavor and color to your meals. Happy cooking!

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