Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tasty tomato? Save some seeds!

In retrospect, I am thinking I should have maybe saved some seeds from this weekend's Tastiest Tomato contest instead of scarfing my samples quite so quickly. Those yellow ones were especially delicious, but by now the seeds are somewhere in my lower intestine. Alas.


In truth, saving seeds for replanting is not that difficult, especially for things like pumpkins or melons or peppers. Or, of course, tomatoes. I'd gone to a workshop on seed saving a couple of years ago, and have dabbled in saving my own ever since. (Incidentally, I've got a stockpile of dried fenugreek pods in case anyone wants to try growing it next year. I use it in Indian food, though apparently it is also a natural supplement for increasing breast milk. Seems like a disproportionate number of friends have kids they're nursing these days, so I could suddenly become the recently neglected friend they start calling again for an herbal supplement. Anyway....) After mom asked me a few months ago, and then a series of friends have inquired about how to save seeds in recent weeks, it occurred to me that perhaps some of my fellow food lovers might appreciate some basic instructions for capturing some of their favorite nightshade seeds for replanting.

I recall one older farmer I'd met along my cross-country research telling me that the way she'd always done it was if someone in the house bit into a tomato and it was especially delicious, they would scoop out the seeds, smear them on a piece of paper, and save them for planting the next year. I suppose one's method could be a little more refined and scientific than that -- recording which variety one is eating, for instance, so you'll know what you're planting -- but the steps would be pretty much the same.

Simple Tomato Seed Saving
  1. Cut or bite into a tomato.
  2. If it's delicious, scoop out some of the seeds.
  3. Plunk them into a small jar with some clean water, seal with a lid, and shake well.
  4. Let the tomato seed mush jar ferment for a few days on the counter -- this will separate the seeds from the gelatinous stuff.
  5. Rinse off the tomato seeds.
  6. Smear the clean seeds across an unused paper coffee filter (or other clean and sturdy paper)
  7. Air dry seeds on the filter/paper for a few days.
  8. Seal your dried seeds in an airtight container and keep somewhere cool and dark til you're ready to plant.
That's it, you're done. No need to buy tomato seeds next year! A single, scrumptious tomato yields hundreds of seeds, so you might even think about saving some for a seed swap this fall....


  1. A note from my Aunt Cami: "I thought you might like the technique I use. I got this from my next former door neighbor's ex who was born in Italy, and known to be a phenomenal gardener. You just cut your tomatoes over a glass or plate. This way several seeds automatically drop into the glass or onto the plate. Cover with an inch or more of bottled H20, and change the H20 every day or 2. The seeds that float can be discarded, as well as any pith, when changing the water. After a week or even 2, just throw them in soil and water them (out here daily)...Voila! I have even kept them in the H20 a few weeks, at which point you seed rudimentary sprouts...I always get a bumper crops and have far better results than gorwing from the standard nursery plant. In Phoenix, I plant on Columbus Day weekend, and the last of the tomatoes burn out @ the end of May." Thanks for the tips! :)

  2. Bizarrely, even though I presented that workshop, I still haven't saved any seeds. My tomatoes have been a bit crummy this year, so I don't feel motivated to save them. But if my butternut squash comes out well, I'll probably save some from that as they're really easy.


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