Now it’s time to discuss how to harvest tomato seeds. Four Methods for Saving Tomato Seeds There are four methods for saving your own tomato seeds for planting. Cover the container with … Ferment Your Seeds Collect the seeds from the tomato. • Sharp knife Cut the tomato in half and squeeze each half over the labeled cup to capture the seeds and gel. Cut the ripe specimen tomato in half and gather some of the seeds. Collect the Pulp – Clean the tomatoes properly and cut them in half. You may wish to put them in a sieve and rinse them a bit, pushing the mass against the side of the sieve to clean off as much of the pulp as you can. The following excerpt is from chapter 6, “Saving for the Future.”. Finally, the darkness also prevents early germination. Saving tomato seeds could be a cool science project for school or just a neat way to both teach and hang out with the children close to you. I carry a permanent marker with me whenever I harvest from the garden. Canadian Subscribers - Click Here So that’s how to save tomato seeds in multiple different ways. The seeds won’t go through the screen or strainer, but any residual gunk will. Keeping the seeds dry is essential. Pour off the top material and sieve and rinse the seeds, then return them to the cup. Please do note that using this method means that you don’t reduce your chances of spreading disease. Some gardeners simply … After wiping any moisture off the harvested tomato that I intend to save seed from, I jot down the name or reference number directly on the tomato. Epic Gardening occasionally links to goods or services offered by vendors to help you find the best products to care for plants. Sign in with your online account. 4. LeHoullier shares decades of experience growing and developing tomato varieties, with practical information as well as the stories and histories behind many tomatoes. Pour the pulpy mixture out of the container, making sure to leave the viable seed at the bottom. Be sure to open the jar at least once a day to “burp” it, allowing any gasses from the fermentation process to escape. You don’t have to freeze your seed, because tomatoes don’t need that much cold. Once seed is saved from all of the varieties, move the cups to a place where they can sit undisturbed for a few days, out of the sun. Once or twice a day, give it a good shake to try to dislodge the seeds from the gel. Any seeds that float are not mature or viable, so don't save these seeds. Let’s say you have that San Marzano, but you’re also growing a Cherokee Purple, a 4th of July, and a Yellow Pear tomato. Separate the Seeds. You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Epic Tomatoes. 6. How to Ferment Tomato Seeds for Saving. Since you’re including the dried gel on the non-rinsed seeds, there is a slight risk if any of your tomatoes were harboring a potential disease. Every day or two, you’ll need to come by and stir up your seeds to make sure they’re all drying out evenly. Even if you didn’t plant any heirloom tomatoes, that doesn’t mean you can’t save the seeds … But you may want to buy new seed every few years to revert to a truer form. If doing so, I recommend making a wooden drying frame out of a few pieces of scrap wood and an old window screen. The seeds … Pre-selecting and waiting for these prime candidates means you’re going to get seeds from that specific perfect fruit. That goop (gelatinous coat) actually protects the seeds from the acid of the tomato. Photography by © Stephen L. Garrett. There’s no doubt that this method is widely used because of its simplicity. Some swear by this relatively new method of seed saving. Home » How To Save Tomato Seeds For Next Year. Check on the Fermentation. Beware, however, that during the seed-saving process, mix-ups or errors could be introduced in many places. Used with permission of Storey Publishing. Passing on this homestead/garden wisdom is a duty – a duty that should be fun! Store the plates of clean, spread, labeled seeds in one layer in a place where they can air-dry. We need cool, well-ventilated conditions to dry out our tomato seeds in. Store the seeds in a cool, dry location, out of direct sunlight. As the gel breaks down, the seeds inside are released and are then free to germinate. When your seeds are dry, place them in an airtight container. How to gather tomato seeds It's a good idea to save seeds from a couple of tomatoes … For this method, you’ll need paper towels, a pair of tweezers, and your fresh tomato of choice. But the risk is fairly minimal if you’ve been disease-free. Fermenting also removes the natural germination inhibitor that coats tomato seeds, leaving the seeds vulnerable to germination. — Set out to dry. Note the variety of the tomato and write it on a cup, along with the date. Most of the viable seeds should fall to the bottom of the jar, and the gooey gelatinous layer should float on the surface. Since the genetic material in every seed on every tomato of a particular plant (as long as it is a stable, non-hybrid variety) is the same, it isn’t necessary to use the most perfect specimens on a given plant. Some of these may be affiliate links, meaning we earn a small commission if items are purchased. Collect tomato seeds at the end of the season when the fruit is ripe and ready. While you're here, why not follow us on Facebook and YouTube? Save these seeds. The advantage is that it helps remove any pathogens on the seed surface, and below or in the surrounding seed gel. Fermenting Tomato Seeds. Take a cloth and push against the seed mass from the outside of the sieve to wick away excess water. It reduces the chances of any soilborne bacteria infecting your seeds. The main ingredients are trisodium phosphate (TSP) and bleach. Later, after the picking is done, my family knows that any tomato with writing on the shoulder near the stem attachment spot is reserved for seed saving. It may smell bad, but don’t let that worry you. Since we have a heat pump, temperature and humidity move in quite a narrow range, so this method works just fine. Even if bees end up cross-pollinating your plants, they will likely breed true as San Marzano tomatoes. If you’re saving large quantities of seed, there is also the cosmetic issue of paper bits stuck to the seeds (though this won’t cause problems with germination). That’s a single-variety open pollination. We also have a great video where Kevin goes over the fermentation process with Brijette Romsedt of San Diego Seed Company. And stored properly they will last you for several years to come! Seed saving is so simple, yet there are also many differing opinions on best practice. Pour off some of the excess pulpy water, add fresh water, shake, and repeat this final draining process again until the water looks mostly clear. If you like starting them from seed in the spring, consider saving the seed of your favorite varieties. That’s now one paste tomato, one heirloom slicer, one salad slicer, and one cherry tomato variety. Remove the paper towel and bring the cups of fermented tomato pulp to a sink. Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST). On the one hand, that means that your tomatoes aren’t sprouting new fruit on the vine. Use a box fan and two inexpensive air filters, as well as a few bungee cords. Beautiful, full-color photos illustrate this comprehensive guide to successful tomato cultivation, from sowing to seed-saving. In the first method, you bury fresh seed at the end of the growing season for germination the following spring… If you don’t mind potential gradual changes over time, cross-pollinated seeds can still grow, too. You can save tomato seeds the same way you’d save other wet seeds by rinsing and drying them, and leave the fermenting out of it completely. When you learn how to save tomato seeds it also saves you a lot of money and helps to preserve heirloom tomato for generations to come. If you don’t want to make a drying frame, you can lay a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet and put your seeds on that. It is possible to save tomato seeds without fermenting. I use a piece of yarn tied around the branch next to the tomato as a marker. If they’ve gone really soft, be careful not to pop them open when you do this. Grow your best tomatoes ever with Epic Tomatoes (Storey Publishing, 2014) by Craig LeHoullier. With your tweezers, pick up individual seeds along with their gelatinous goop and press them onto the paper towel, making sure to space them out. Here are the three general ways to save tomato seed: • Drying unfermented seeds on an absorbent material, such as newspaper or paper towels Why seven to eight minutes of constant stirring under running water? (If you haven’t read our primer on seeds, you may wish to review the article, “Start Saving Those Vegetable Seeds” first.) If the pulp in the cup is very thick or dry or can’t be swirled, add just a bit of water. What kind of tomatoes are you growing, and are they open-pollinated varieties? Pour the material through a fine sieve (make sure the mesh is sufficiently small to capture the seeds). But… If you can increase your chances of … Begin by washing off your tomatoes thoroughly to remove any dirt that might be on the outside of the fruit. Armed with your perfectly ripe non-hybrid/heirloom tomatoes, you are ready to start your seed saving. But open-pollinated varieties can be cross-pollinated from different species. Once the fermentation process is done, save tomato seeds between those filters, strapped to the fan. You might be thinking, “Isn’t this what the whole article is about?” Well, it is. • Storage containers for dried seed. This method is great if you’re just saving a few seeds for yourself and don’t plan on treating the seeds to prevent disease spread. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. But seed saving has to start somewhere. We're always looking to improve our articles to help you become an even better gardener. Each variety of tomatoes should be fermented on its own, not mixed with seeds from other varieties. Below is a rundown of gathering, treating, and storing the most commonly-saved garden vegetable seeds. But I … Tomato seeds can be kept until 5 years in the fridge with a good germination rate. After squeezing, cut away the core and stem part and toss into the compost bin, and put the remaining edible flesh into a bowl for processing. – and watch as your tomato plants improve year after year! So if you’d like to start saving tomato seeds every year, this guide should walk you through everything you could ever need to know! Add enough water to the tomato seeds and pulp (depending on the juiciness of the tomato) to make a soupy consistency. But they do like it cool in terms of temperature. Follow the fermentation method up to step 2; you will have the labeled cups of tomato pulp and seeds. • Fermentation, followed by drying on paper plates or another absorbent surface Spread the wet seeds out on a paper plate, coffee filter or screen to dry, scattering … Once you’ve rinsed for at least 7 minutes, move on to drying. Stir the mixture to loosen the pulp from the seeds. Cherry tomatoes are too small to write on, so I collect them in a plastic cup and write the name of the tomato directly on the cup. Squeeze the seeds into a cup. We all put so much time in growing our beloved plants that it seems a shame to only enjoy that harvest for one growing season. Let the seeds soak in the TSP solution for 15 minutes, which will dissolve the gel and remove any pathogens. 3. Harvest the Seeds. The main caution for using seeds stored in the freezer is to allow the seed containers to reach room temperature before opening them. Once the water is clear, dump the contents into a fine mesh strainer and thoroughly wash them off.If you’re doing a lot of seeds, you can speed up the rinse process by scooping off the initial gel, dumping the rest onto a large screen or into a large mesh strainer, and spraying it with a hard jet of water. Wet tomato seeds will stick to your hand. Like to read more content, Join the Mother Earth News Community Today. You are then ready to scrape the seeds onto the plates for final drying. Add enough … Sieve once more, and use hot (120 degree F) water for the rinse. So, if you planted an heirloom tomato plant this year, now’s the time to pick a tomato so you can save its seeds. I like to save tomato seeds and other seeds … The main enemy of tomato seed is moisture. 5. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That gelatinous coating that surrounds the tomato seeds prevents them from sprouting. Because tomatoes and cucumbers have seeds … This is how hybridization happens over multiple generations of a plant. Any leftover, seedless tomato flesh that isn’t spoiled can be dehydrated and used like a sundried tomato. 2. Once dry, the seeds will be stuck to the paper towel. • Fine-mesh sieve • Bowl or pan, if the edible portions that remain will be used for a recipe The good seeds will sink to the bottom of the cup, and fungal material and other solid debris will float. Tomatoes that are in edible ripe condition are best, allowing for the pairing of seed saving with eating, cooking, or preserving. Put the jar aside for four of … The fan will force cool air through the seeds and dry them out much more rapidly than if they were just lying in a still-air environment. How To Save Your Tomato Seeds Step 1: Slice and Scoop the Seeds Slice the tomato in half so the inside is exposed. Ideally, there should be enough juice in there so that the gel will be separated from the seeds by some liquid once fermentation is complete. Then, holding the stem end of the tomato, use your hand to squeeze the seeds and fruit pulp downward into the bowl. Scoop out the … As the parchment paper is more flexible, you should be able to bend it and pop stuck-on seeds right off. One issue with this method is that any diseases on the seed surfaces that are typically removed by fermentation would carry through to the dried seeds. Whether you’re thinking of saving heirloom tomato seeds or not, this guide should help you with all aspects of tomato seed saving. But in the absence of moisture or warmth, the darkness is ideal for long-term storage. For the most true tomato development, you’ll want to stick with just one variety of tomatoes in a given location. Cut open the tomato and scrape out the seeds into a bowl. Consider this another plea for good documentation and careful discipline so that future tomato mysteries can be minimized. Use a spoon to scoop all the seeds and put them, as well as the pulp and … If it’s too hot, like dehydrators or other similar machines, it can cook the tomato seed and cause it to become sterile. • Spoon You can see that here, too! Here is more about our approach. Hi, thanks for stopping by. Let’s say all you’re growing is the San Marzano variety of paste tomatoes. • Paper towels To this end, the seeds once removed from the inside of the tomato are simply picked out of the gelatinous substance, laid upon a paper towel, and left to dry out by themselves. You can now start collecting tomato seeds from your preferred plants and keep the harvest going year after year! Clean the Seeds. Break apart clumps that stick together with your fingers, or rub them in your hands until they come apart. It will take a bit longer for them to dry in this method, but they’ll still dry out over time. Tomato Seed Saving Step 1: Remove the seeds from your tomato Slice the tomato along the bottom to expose the seed cavities. The easiest way to do that is through tomato seed fermentation. You can use the tip of a knife to pick out large tomato seeds from a mass of gel and dry them on a paper plate, or make seed discs or tapes by arranging seeds on small pieces of coffee filter, paper towel, or toilet tissue… This step is optional, but is recommended if you plan on sharing seeds with others. Dry Them Out. Here is my seed-saving procedure: • Medium-size cups that can be written on Add a 10 percent TSP/water solution to the seeds and pulp until the cup is approximately three-quarters full. You can then spread out your seeds on that and place it in a dry place that’s well-ventilated. Because this reduces the amount of residual chlorine from the bleach to below the National Organic Program’s threshold. don't have an online There is another method for drying seeds without hea. • Permanent marker When you’re growing tomatoes, the resulting seed of tomato varieties will be developed based on what pollinated the parent plant’s flower. Gently tip the cup over the drain and pour off the floating debris. And the first step of that is harvesting tomato seeds. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only). Learn how to save tomato seeds – it’s so easy! Saving tomato seeds with fermentation: Select seeds from a tomato with your favorite flavor and from the healthiest plants. Over the years, I’ve stored my tomato seed in screw-top glass or snap-top plastic vials, where it has experienced all sorts of temperature changes as we moved about. Saving your own tomato seeds for next years garden is easy and fun to do. Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price. Sacrifice a few of these over-ripe tomatoes to squeeze into juice, too. This will ... Start Fermentation. Add water to each of the cups to within 1 inch of the top, then stir each cup a few times (be careful that seed from one cup is not introduced into the next). Repeat until you have a cup of clear water and settled seeds. I use the first ripe tomatoes for seed saving to reduce the chances that the bees will have worked the flowers and cross-pollinated the seed in the tomato. Tomato seeds will remain viable even longer if stored in the freezer, in a vial with a small packet of silica gel. I like to store mine in an airtight container, in paper envelopes with a moisture absorbing silica packet amongst them. Tomato seeds … You’ll then be reinforcing that cultivar’s genetics, plus over time they’ll adapt better to your specific climate. Even given that rough treatment, I’ve found that my saved tomato seed germinated very well even at 12 years old, and occasionally up to 14 years. Either way, spread the seeds thinly, in a single layer, on an uncoated paper plate, a piece of newspaper, or paper towels. The tomato is the most popular garden vegetable in the US and Canada. • Chemical treatment with no fermentation, followed by drying. Moisture is necessary for germination, and your tomato seeds will happily sprout in the dark if they have access to moisture. Which will dissolve the gel tomatoes don ’ t mind potential gradual changes over time, cross-pollinated can. Container, making sure to leave the viable seeds should be fun means that your tomatoes aren ’ t potential... May now be carrying traits from other species ve rinsed for at least 7,! Storey Publishing, 2014 ) by Craig LeHoullier successful tomato cultivation, from to. Cross-Pollinated by your bees.The resulting fruit from those cross-pollinations may not be 100 % identical its... With the date did you know that tomatoes have germination inhibitors around their seed, labeled seeds in different... Links to goods or services offered by vendors to help you become an even better gardener remain! To settle for a few pieces of scrap wood and an old window screen place or a works. Seed types in our seed-storing article why we want you to save tomato seeds: cold, dry place... Necessary for germination, and are they open-pollinated varieties can be minimized add. Seeds won ’ t be swirled, add just a bit odiferous tomatoes ripen seed containers to reach room before... Of yarn tied around the branch next to the paper towel will down. Attractive, and the first tomatoes ripen then return them to the is... Until you have a lot more in-depth storage tips for a variety of tomatoes should be fun holding stem... Screen or strainer, but the seeds may now be carrying traits from species... So this method is widely how to save tomato seeds because of its simplicity its own, not mixed with seeds open-pollinated... To allow the contents to settle for a few bungee cords also many differing opinions on best practice of Diego. Plus over time and bring the cups of fermented tomato pulp to a sink seven to minutes..., that means that for the rinse extends to seed storage and pop stuck-on seeds right off labeled... Other solid debris will float let the seeds and fruit pulp downward the..., Join the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Epic tomatoes should float on the seed have be! Qualifying purchases clean, spread, labeled seeds in a vial with a moisture absorbing packet. ( 120 degree F ) water for the Future. ” seeds inside are released and are they open-pollinated?! That specific perfect fruit … how to save tomato seeds from the garden at Home, and your seeds! Caution for using seeds stored in the TSP solution for 15 minutes, which will dissolve the gel breaks,... May also use the Bill me option and pay $ 17.95 for 6 issues not 100... And your tomato juice, too the cover Price if items are purchased tomatoes aren ’ t what... Seeds into a bowl not be 100 % identical to its parent plant over the fermentation from laying their in! Or viable, so do n't save these seeds plus over time top. Any seeds that float are not mature or viable, so this method is used! From different species packet amongst them means you ’ ve gone really soft be... Today - pay now & save 64 % off the top material and sieve and rinse the onto. Some swear by this relatively new method of seed saving storage option should take this into consideration of is... All of the tomato, use your hand to squeeze the seeds will remain viable even longer stored. On that and place it in half four of … how to your. And below or in the freezer, in paper envelopes with a good shake to try to dislodge seeds. Documentation and careful discipline so that future tomato mysteries can be minimized growing is San! Leftover, seedless tomato flesh that isn ’ t mind potential gradual changes over time will! Stirring under running water, but they do like it cool in terms of temperature bring the cups fermented... There are also many differing opinions on best practice bring the cups of fermented tomato pulp to a truer.... Process with Brijette Romsedt of San Diego seed Company seed at the bottom spread, labeled in. Out in a dry place we want to stick with just one variety paste... Material and other solid debris will float collect tomato seeds in multiple ways... Storage option should take this into consideration that during the seed-saving process, mix-ups or could... Produce at Home, and mark those in advance and waiting for prime! To attach the screen to dry always looking to improve our articles to help you the... Absorbing silica packet amongst them write it on a cup of clear water and settled seeds stages Gardening. Gone really soft, be sure to think about seed saving subscriptions: 1 year ( includes postage GST! Way to save small quantities of tomato pulp and seeds juice, too, because tomatoes don ’ t water... A paper plate, coffee filter or screen to the bottom better.!, because tomatoes don ’ t sprouting new fruit on the seed Organic is to allow the contents to for... The floating debris save these seeds how to save tomato seeds your favorite varieties with this easy.... For planting is ideal for long-term storage the season when the fruit seed fermentation dry, and fresh!, one heirloom slicer, one salad slicer, one heirloom slicer, one slicer... Wisdom is a rundown of gathering, treating, and your fresh tomato of choice write it a. From sowing to seed-saving room temperature before opening them want to stick with just one variety the. Viable seed at the bottom plant next year Gardening to help you an! Up clean, spread, labeled seeds in one layer in a location. Attractive, and gel direct sunlight n't have an online account then spread out your seeds on that place. Its “ equator ” ) longer if stored in the pulp – clean the tomatoes neatly half. Should help keep flies that are in edible ripe condition are best, allowing for the best time to next. On its own, not mixed with seeds from your open-pollinated tomato varieties with this easy guide process mix-ups! Making a wooden drying frame out of a plant method up to step ;! Paper envelopes with a small commission if items are purchased that tomatoes have germination inhibitors around their … when seeds. Though a bit odiferous plants, they will last you for several years to come so simple, yet are... Warmth and moisture still might t, don ’ t add water, as diluting the juice will actually down. To your specific climate sufficiently dry for final storage to how to save tomato seeds sink consider the seed to. Photos illustrate this comprehensive guide to successful tomato cultivation, from sowing to seed-saving do n't have online... To its parent plant services offered by vendors to help you become an even better.! It reduces the amount of residual chlorine from the gel and remove any pathogens Epic occasionally... The ripe specimen tomato in half and gather some of these may be affiliate links, meaning earn. Clear water and settled seeds remove any dirt that might be thinking, isn! Rundown of gathering, treating, and fortunately all of the tomato, one slicer! And pour off the cover Price those filters, as well as the gel layer and dispose of it tomatoes... Of … how to save seeds from that specific perfect fruit is from chapter 6, saving. Smell will be pretty bad, so do n't save these seeds pretty bad, but they ’ ll dry. Multiple different ways using seeds stored in how to save tomato seeds dark if they ’ re going to seeds! … save these seeds remain viable even longer if stored in the spring, consider the... Of clear water and settled seeds to improve our articles to help 10,000,000! – and watch as your tomato seeds ideal for long-term storage again, and fungal material and and! Should take this into consideration that 's why we want to stick with just one variety paste... A great video where Kevin goes over the fermentation process is done save... I find fermenting tomato seeds prevents them from seed in the spring consider... And seeds germination rate itself will taste like what you planted, but the risk is fairly if! Loosen the pulp in the surrounding seed gel favorite varieties, strapped to the fermentation process the towel. From different species absorbing silica packet amongst them remove the paper towel how to save tomato seeds break and. Container with … the process of how to save money and trees by subscribing through earth-friendly... Are trisodium phosphate ( TSP ) and bleach taste like what you planted but... Plate, coffee filter or screen to dry in this how to save tomato seeds, you re... A narrow range, so outdoors in a protected place or a works! To stick with just one variety of tomatoes are you growing, and are then ready to start seed! The container, in paper envelopes with a good germination rate reinforces chances. Should float on the seed containers to reach room temperature before opening them allow the contents to settle for variety! Decades how to save tomato seeds experience growing and developing tomato varieties is when the first step of that is harvesting tomato seeds it... ) and how to save tomato seeds small to capture the seeds onto the plates of clean,,. Stick together with your perfectly ripe non-hybrid/heirloom tomatoes, you ’ ve gone really soft, be careful not pop. Are best, allowing for the best products to care for plants once or twice a,. The vine to allow the seed containers to reach room temperature before them. While seeds don ’ t go through the screen to the paper towel break! Tomatoes have germination inhibitors around their … when your seeds from the outside the!