Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tomato Seed Saving

Now is the time to save seeds from your Heirloom tomatoes.  Haven't done it before?  No worries - it's easy!!

Choose a ripe, perfect tomato – maybe even a little over-ripe.

Cut it in half.

Squeeze the seeds, gel, and juice out into a small bowl or jar.

Fill the container with two to three inches of water.

Label your container so you know which variety of tomato you saved seeds from. (You might think you will remember, but you won’t – label them!)

Set the labeled jar in an out-of-the way spot (not in direct sunlight) and wait.

After about three days, a film will start to form on the surface of the water. This means that the gelatinous coating on the seeds is dissolving.  It will turn to a white moldy, yucchy stuff.

Once you get white mold, pour it and any seeds that are floating (they won't germinate).  Keep all of the seeds sitting at the bottom of the bowl.
*You may have to repeat steps 6-8 a couple of times to make sure you get rid of all of the gelatin-like substance around the seeds.

After you've poured the mold and bad seeds off, drain your seeds through a fine mesh strainer (a painter’s cloth strainer works good) and rinse under running water. Move the seeds around with your fingers to remove any extra gel that may be clinging to them.

Put the rinsed seeds on a paper plate (Again, you won't remember what it is if you don't label it!) It is important to use paper plates or something similar - not your good china. You need something that will wick the water away from the seeds so they will dry and not get moldy.

Make sure your seeds are in a single layer on the plate, and set it aside a few days (away from any drafts - you don't want your seeds to get blown away!) so the seeds can completely dry.

Once they're dry, put them in a labeled envelope, or other paper container (Not a baggie or jar – they will get moldy) and store in a cool, dark, dry spot. I don’t like to keep mine in the fridge like a lot of people say you should because it is too cold and slows down the germination next year.

Tomato seeds will keep well and germinate reliably for 4-5 years if stored properly.

So, If you haven't collected seeds before, give it a try!  Get your hands dirty!


  1. I can't wait to try this! Thanks!

  2. We don't keep our seeds in the fridge either, I'd be afraid they'd get too damp. As we buy them in bulk anyway, we use paper coffee filters to strain and dry our seeds on. Works very well. You're right though, labeling is a MUST!

  3. Thanks for the great tip! Coffee filters would be perfect - and very inexpensive.

  4. How fun is this!!! Especially if you have a certain tomatoe you really enjoy. Can you do this with other veggies? Thanks for the idea.

  5. So cool! I feel educated. You have a lot of unique information on your web site. Now I just wish I had some heirloom tomato seeds from my predecessors' gardens. :) I think there would be something very special about growing "ancestors" of the plants your own ancestors had grown.


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