Canning tomatillos at home is a quick and easy way to preserve whole tomatillos for use all year long. Most tomatillo recipes start by simmering the tomatillos, and canning them ahead of time will save effort and allow you to get dinner on the table faster on a busy weeknight.
Every year we grow tomatillos in our garden, and we often harvest 40 to 50 pounds of fruit from just a few plants. They’re exceptionally productive, without any care or tending. Just one or two forgotten fruits and you’ll have tomatillo volunteers for years to come.
It’s been two years since I actually planted tomatillos in my garden, but the volunteers keep coming up. The seeds will sprout up and produce in sections of lawn, or in the compacted area right next to the gravel driveway. There’s really no stopping them.
Most years, I preserve tomatillos in a home-canned green sauce for enchiladas and marinades. My recipe is adapted from a ball canning recipe and has a lot of added lime juice. The lime juice adds great flavor to the sauce.
Sometimes though, you just want plain tomatillos for a recipe, and that’s when canning plain tomatillos works wonderfully.
Acidification for Safely Canning Tomatillos
You’ll still need to add a bit of acidity to the jars, as you do in tomato canning recipes. Similar to tomatoes, tomatillos are right on the borderline when it comes to acidity for safe water bath canning.
There used to be approved canning recipes for putting up tomatillos just in plain water, but that’s no longer recommended. It’s largely because their acidity can vary so much based on growing conditions, and there are a number of sweeter modern varieties that just aren’t acidic enough for safe canning.
The national center for food preservation recommends the following:
“To ensure safe acidity, add two tablespoons of bottled lemon juice or ½ teaspoon of citric acid per quart jar of tomatillos. For pints, use one tablespoon bottled lemon juice or ¼ teaspoon citric acid. Acid can be added directly to the jars before filling with product. Add sugar to offset acid taste, if desired. Four tablespoons of a 5-percent acidity vinegar per quart may be used instead of lemon juice or citric acid. However, vinegar may cause undesirable flavor changes.”
Though a few studies have shown that tomatillos are generally more acidic than tomatoes, and well below the safe cutoff for canning without added acid, the National Center for Home Food Preservation still calls for adding lemon juice to the canning liquid at a rate of one tablespoon per pint.
While it may not be strictly necessary to add acid, the lemon juice adds extra flavor to the canned tomatillos and better safe than sorry. Either way, acid or not, the tomatillos are canned in a water bath canner with 1/2 inch headspace for 40 minutes for pints and 45 minutes for quarts.
How to Can Tomatillos
Since tomatillos need to be hot packed, the fruits must be cooked before they go into the canning jars. A quick simmer in boiling water is sufficient, but you can also roast the tomatillos in the oven for more flavor. Many recipes call for roasted tomatillos anyway, and that extra dry heat before canning will add a smokey, caramelized flavor to the canned tomatillos.
The fruits lose a substantial amount of their volume in the initial pre-cook before hot packing, and a full pound of tomatillos can fit into a single pint mason jar, or two pounds per quart jar.
Since the fruits have a tough skin, it’s helpful to pierce each one with a needle or fork before pre-cooking. This will keep them from popping, and result in cleaner jars of canned tomatillos with more intact whole fruits.
The tomatillos don’t need to be chopped or peeled of their inner skin before canning, just remove the papery outer husk, and parboil or roast before packing them into canning jars.
Tomatillos should then be packed into prepared canning jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Seal with 2 part lids and then process in a water bath canner for 40 minutes for pints and 45 minutes for quarts.
Ways to Preserve Tomatillos
Looking for more ways to preserve tomatillos?
- Tomatillo Salsa Recipe for Canning
- Freezing Tomatillos
- Fermented salsa verde with tomatillos (made with lacto-fermentation, like homemade sauerkraut)
Simple canned whole tomatillos are versatile in recipes, and can be quickly put up using a water bath canner.
- 9 lbs Tomatillos, fresh
- bottled lemon juice, see notes
- boiling water
- Remove the papery outer husks from the tomatillos and pierce each one with a needle or fork (optional).
- Simmer tomatillos in boiling water for about 5 minutes, until they lose their bright green color.
- Add one tablespoon of lemon juice to each pint canning jar (or 2 tbsp for quarts). Pack whole tomatillos into canning jars and cover with boiling water, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
- Seal with 2 part lids and process in a water bath canner for 40 minutes (pints) or 45 minutes (quarts) adjusting for altitude.
- If you prefer, tomatillos can be pressure canned at 10 pounds pressure for 10 minutes instead, but pressure canning is not strictly required as they are a high acid food.
The recipe makes roughly 9 pints.
The lemon juice is added to each canning jar at a rate of 1 tablespoon per pint or two tablespoons per quart. With this recipe for one canner batch of pints, you should need about 9 tablespoons of lemon juice. If you have more than 9 pints, you'll need more lemon juice.
Be sure you use 2 tablespoons per jar if canning in quarts. For a standard canner batch of 7 quarts, you'd need about 14 to 16 pounds of tomatillos and 14 tablespoons of lemon juice.
If you're above 1,000 feet in elevation, you may need to adjust canning times or pressures for pressure canning for all canning recipes. There is guidance on altitude adjustments here.
Summer Canning Recipes
Looking for more easy summer canning recipes?
Food Preservation Tutorials
Canning food at home is just the beginning…
- How to Make Apple Cider Vinegar
- Beginners Guide to Cheesemaking
- Beginners Guide to Lacto-Fermentation
- How to Make Mead (Honey Wine)