How to Save Tomato Seeds

How to save tomato seeds

How to Save Tomato Seeds

Saving seeds from tomatoes is a little different than saving seeds from most vegetables.  It is not hard at all, just a little more time consuming, but VERY worth it.  Not very long ago nearly all people who lived in rural America considered it a norm to save seed back for next season.  More than likely your grandparents grew their favored variety of tomatoes that they had saved throught the years.  I intend to uphold that great tradition; I believe it is essential to the sustainable lifestyle.

Choose healthy and vigorous plants that produced well to harvest seed from.  The characteristics of each plant shows through the next generations.  Also, be sure that they are separated other varieties by at least 10 feet.  This insures that next year’s crop will be pure and true to the current one.  Older varieties have longer styles ( therefore more potential for cross pollination) and may need to be separated by another 10 or 15 feet.

1.  Pick several high quality tomatoes from a few of your best tomato plants.  It can be difficult to sacrifice good tomatoes, but you’ll thank yourself next year.

2.  Cut the fruit in half.  Squeeze the seeds into a clean container.  Double the volume of liquid by adding equal parts pure water.

3.  Let the tomatoes ferment in a warm, far away place (they stink!) for 3 days or until a scum form on the top.  Add more water and stir.

4.  Pour water off of the top discarding the seeds that float.  The good seeds will drop to the bottom of the container.  Add more water and continue until only good seeds remain.

5.  Transfer seeds into a strainer and dry with a towel. Place seeds on a clean plate until completely dry.

6.  Store seeds in a small glass jar in a cool, dark place.

You will not regret doing saving your tomato seeds. In just a few years you will probably want to enter your tomatoes into a contest…if you don’t eat it first!

Happy Growing and Cooking!

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  1. Stacy, when you say “pure water”, what do you mean?

    1. Stacy Harris says:

      Really, any clean water will do. Chlorine may kill seeds, but I have used faucet water before and did not have any trouble. If you have a well. Pump water is great.I hope that your seeds do well for you!

      1. Thank you for clarifying. Thought I was going to have to get purified water.

  2. Stacy, does it matter if the seeds ferment in a place that is dark? Or should they be in the light? Mine are fermenting in a shed right now where it is dark.

    1. Stacy Harris says:

      Hey there Ben! Well, I ferment my seeds on my back porch out of the sun, but in a warm place. What matters here is that they ferment in a warm location (70 to 80 degrees is great). It is good not to let it get cooler than 65 degrees. It does not have to be dark. I don’t leave mine in direct sunlight though. What is great about saving seeds in this manner is that if fermented properly and stored properly, it only takes a few days for germination when you get ready to plant them. After about 2 years though, the seeds begin to lose viability. They will store for 5 to 10 years! Have fun as you save seeds!

  3. Kate Wilson says:

    Yay! I always wondered how this was done, but it’s one of those things I never got around to researching. Thanks for sharing, Stacy! 🙂

  4. Steve Phifer says:

    It is possible to save seeds from green tomatoes or must they be allowed to ripen?

    1. Stacy Harris says:

      You can save them, but you will probably have very poor production in that the seeds are immature. Let me know if I can answer anything else.

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