Saving Tomato Seeds
the Easy Way
I have seen complex instructions on the internet about saving tomato seeds......sterile this and sterile that. I have saved lots of seeds and didn’t know that I was supposed to make it a difficult job. So the following is the way I do it.
I take a nice ripe tomato from the plant. If it has a bad spot or two, or a bird has pecked it is not a problem.
I usually cut the tomato up in chunks or sometimes just stuff it in a glass quart jar like an old mayonnaise jar. I add water to about 3/4 full and place it in the shade outside where it will be left to the elements for a couple of weeks. Next time I do it I will give a more accurate length of time.
After a couple of weeks you will see an ugly mess with rotten pulp and a white fungus on top of it. If you pick up the jar and swirl it you should seed tomato seeds on the bottom of the glass jar. Mix it with a stick if you want and just make sure that the seeds fall to the bottom. You might notice that it has an unpleasant smell .... kinda like rotten tomatoes.
What you are after is to get that gelatin like pulp off the seeds. Natural fermentation of the tomato will do this so your seeds will be clear with no pulp on them and visible at the bottom of the jar..
So far pretty simple. Well the rest is not difficult either. Pour off the top stuff and leave the seeds in the bottom of the jar. Fill the jar again with water and swirl it around. As the seeds settle, pour of the junk on top. After you do this about 3 times you should have clear water with no trash in it and all your seeds at the bottom.
Now all you have to do is pour the seeds out with a little water into a coffee filter. I use a rubber band to hold the filter over the top of a coffee cup. This concentrates the seeds in the filter and then I use a paper towel and dump the seeds out onto the paper towel. After I spread the seeds out and let them dry I fold the towel over over the seeds a few times. then mark the towel with the variety and date, put a rubber band on it and here are my seeds for next year.
Did you know that tomato seeds last for 7 to 10 years. You will note that the seed packets in the stores don’t tell you that, they want you to buy new fresh seeds every year. Below added July 7, 2018.
While were on the subject, I often run a test by putting 10 seeds on a paper towel that has been folded around them. I moisten the towel with water and put it in a warm place to see how long it takes to germinate.
There are other vegetables that you can process the same way. I have done both cucumbers and hot peppers this way. In fact I saved about 3000 serabi pepper seeds this way in august of 2017. I was making hot pepper vinegar for some friends and had lots of ripe Serranos left over. Photo of hot vinegar bottle, wrong photo on purpose. Will replace.