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)
Canning Whole Tomatillos
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)
Thanks for this great information. Could I use lime juice in place of the lemon juice?
Yes, definitely! Lime juice sounds lovely and would be a good substitution in this recipe. The acid isn’t strictly required for canning safety, it’s just a flavor enhancer, so lime juice would be perfect.
Hi! I think I would prefer to roast the tomatillos instead of simmering in boiling water. How long do you think I should roast them for before canning? I can’t wait to try this. I have so many tomatillos I don’t know what to do with them!
When you say to use boiling water, do you mean from the pot or fresh water? This will be my first time canning so I’m making sure I have the details. Thanks for the recipe!
At what temperature and duration would you roast them in the oven for? (before canning)
Re: The added acid in the green tomatillo salsa.
The added lime juice is needed to cover the potential of C. botulinum risk in the onions.
Typically onions and recipes containing onions would have to be canned in a pressure canner.
Otherwise, onions would have to be pickled to safely can them in a hot water bath.
Most tomato and tomato sauce recipes w/o onion can be water bath canned. When you add onion, you have to process it in a pressure canner.
What kind of recipes do you use whole tomatillos in?
Tomatillos are just easy to can whole. I don’t typically use them whole but will puree them for salsa, soups, and stews.
What do you mean by ‘process in a water bath canner’? Does that mean ‘immerse in boiling water’? or what? Thank you very much. I’m new to this and have a lot of tomatillos
Can I put tomatillos in food processor and purée them and then can the purées tomatillos?
Yes, you can. There are many tomatillo salsa canning recipes out there if you decide to go that route.
Brianna St Clair
Is there anyway to not add the water? Like cut them in half and roast them, then can like that without the water? Or are they just not juicy enough?
They’re not juicy enough for that, but I believe you can also process them as a sauce instead and that might be a better option if you’re looking to avoid diluting them with water.
Thank you so much for info on canning tomatillos . First year growing and I know next year I will have plenty too,,,,,
Thank you Barbara
I used the whole tomatillos to make chile verde. It’s amazing! I brown chunks of pork in a little oil in my dutch oven and then add onions and Brown until soft. Then add a little garlic for a minute. Add some chicken stock, your tomatillos, and a good bunch of chopped, roasted Anaheim chiles. Add a couple tablespoons of cumin and let simmer on low for a couple hours. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over rice with some tortillas on the side. I love to add some white beans too sometimes for a little extra bulk. Phenomenal. Sorry I don’t use measurements. I just throw things in the pot lol. It works!
Thank you for posting this. I am growing tomatillos for the first time and looking for ideas on how to use them.
I just read your article about tomatillos, and I must say it was a delightful read. Your experience with growing tomatillos in your garden is quite impressive, and it’s amazing how you get 40 to 50 pounds of fruit from just a few plants. I must say, I envy your green thumb. I’ve tried my hand at gardening a few times, but I don’t think I have the talent for it. However, after reading your article, I might give growing tomatillos a try.
It’s interesting to learn that tomatillos are very productive, even without much care or tending. I love how you mention that just one or two forgotten fruits can lead to volunteers for years to come. It’s fascinating how nature works in such mysterious ways. It’s been a while since I had tomatillos, but reading your article has piqued my interest, and I’m thinking of trying out some new recipes with them.
Lastly, I must say that your writing style is very engaging, and I found myself engrossed in your experience. Your writing made me feel like I was right there with you, experiencing the joys of growing tomatillos. Thank you for sharing your experience with us, and I look forward to reading more of your articles in the future.