I created Epic Gardening to help teach 10,000,000 people how to grow anything, no matter where they live in the world. Allow the contents to settle for a few minutes. On the one hand, that means that your tomatoes aren’t sprouting new fruit on the vine. Consider this another plea for good documentation and careful discipline so that future tomato mysteries can be minimized. Seed saving is so simple, yet there are also many differing opinions on best practice. Most of the viable seeds should fall to the bottom of the jar, and the gooey gelatinous layer should float on the surface. Tap the strainer or rub your hand under it to remove excess water. Then, holding the stem end of the tomato, use your hand to squeeze the seeds and fruit pulp downward into the bowl. The cup contents can be quite concentrated, viscous, and opaque at this point so be very careful to not allow any seeds to escape along with the upper debris. Used with permission of Storey Publishing. Already a Member? To do this, slice your ripe heirloom tomato … Immediately dump the seeds back into the strainer and rinse them under cold running water for at least 7 minutes, constantly stirring or agitating the seeds to make sure they are completely rinsed off. This is a very simple way to save small quantities of tomato seeds. • Bowl or pan, if the edible portions that remain will be used for a recipe Add enough … I use a piece of yarn tied around the branch next to the tomato as a marker. Cut open the tomato and scrape out the seeds into a bowl. If the weather is cooler, it could take up to 5 days for the fermentation to take place and the fungal layer to form. That reinforces your chances for getting more fruit just like those! You might be thinking, “Isn’t this what the whole article is about?” Well, it is. Tomatoes and Cucumbers. — Set out to dry. When you’re growing tomatoes, the resulting seed of tomato varieties will be developed based on what pollinated the parent plant’s flower. Once the pulp starts to ferment (indicated by an offensive smell and the presence of a layer of white, or occasionally black, fungus), it’s time to rinse the seeds. But it also means that for the best seeds, you’ll need to remove that gel. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. So that’s how to save tomato seeds in multiple different ways. Peel off the seeds and store them. The smell will be pretty bad, so outdoors in a protected place or a garage works well. 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). Begin by washing off your tomatoes thoroughly to remove any dirt that might be on the outside of the fruit. The tomato is the most popular garden vegetable in the US and Canada. 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. How to Ferment Tomato Seeds for Saving. Photography by © Stephen L. Garrett. Grow your best tomatoes ever with Epic Tomatoes (Storey Publishing, 2014) by Craig LeHoullier. You can now start collecting tomato seeds from your preferred plants and keep the harvest going year after year! 2. Then with the help of a spoon … Some of these may be affiliate links, meaning we earn a small commission if items are purchased. 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. The most important thing to watch for is that the tomatoes on a given plant are true to type — that they match your expectations from either the description or past experience. Below is a rundown of gathering, treating, and storing the most commonly-saved garden vegetable seeds. Stir the mixture to loosen the pulp from the seeds. Separate the Seeds. Pre-selecting and waiting for these prime candidates means you’re going to get seeds from that specific perfect fruit. Put your tomato juice, seeds, and gel into a quart-sized mason jar. You are then ready to scrape the seeds onto the plates for final drying. If doing so, I recommend making a wooden drying frame out of a few pieces of scrap wood and an old window screen. Now it’s time to discuss how to harvest tomato seeds. The seeds end up clean, attractive, and easy to package and store. 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. 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. 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. 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. Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price. 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. We also have a great video where Kevin goes over the fermentation process with Brijette Romsedt of San Diego Seed Company. 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). 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. Once the lid is on the jar, give it a good shake and then set it in a location that’s 70 degrees Fahrenheit or less. In the first method, you bury fresh seed at the end of the growing season for germination the following spring… • Permanent marker The paper towel will break down and the seeds will germinate. It will take a bit longer for them to dry in this method, but they’ll still dry out over time. Even if you didn’t plant any heirloom tomatoes, that doesn’t mean you can’t save the seeds … Because tomatoes and cucumbers have seeds … 7. Squeeze the seeds into a cup. Once dry, the seeds will be stuck to the paper towel. The fruit itself will taste like what you planted, but the seeds may now be carrying traits from other species. You don’t have to freeze your seed, because tomatoes don’t need that much cold. Label a paper plate with the variety, scrape up the seeds into a mass with the spoon, and press them onto the plate in a single layer. • Paper towels There’s no doubt that this method is widely used because of its simplicity. Add a 10 percent bleach solution to the seeds until the cup is about one-quarter full, and soak them for one to two minutes. Pour the pulpy mixture out of the container, making sure to leave the viable seed at the bottom. We need cool, well-ventilated conditions to dry out our tomato seeds in. 6. Learn how to save tomato seeds – it’s so easy! Some people at this point opt to treat the seed to prevent transmission of any diseases. At MOTHER EARTH NEWS for 50 years and counting, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. But open-pollinated varieties can be cross-pollinated from different species. The seeds … With the back of a spoon, push the seeds against the sieve under a stream of water to ensure any remaining non-seed solids rinse through. Over a week or so, the seeds will dry and adhere to the drying surface. Store the plates of clean, spread, labeled seeds in one layer in a place where they can air-dry. Add enough water to the tomato seeds and pulp (depending on the juiciness of the tomato) to make a soupy consistency. How to gather tomato seeds It's a good idea to save seeds from a couple of tomatoes … Pour the material through a fine sieve (make sure the mesh is sufficiently small to capture the seeds). Eventually, the gel coating will break down on its own, which is why it’s possible to plant a chunk of seedy tomato and get sprouts. For the most true tomato development, you’ll want to stick with just one variety of tomatoes in a given location. Instructions. Slice the tomato and scoop or squeeze out the seeds with their surrounding goop into a cup. While seeds don’t need light to sprout, any that have access to warmth and moisture still might. Hi, I'm Kevin. Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST). 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. Every day or two, you’ll need to come by and stir up your seeds to make sure they’re all drying out evenly. don't have an online Store the seeds in a cool, dry location, out of direct sunlight. 3. The advantage is that it helps remove any pathogens on the seed surface, and below or in the surrounding seed gel. The good seeds will sink to the bottom of the cup, and fungal material and other solid debris will float. Cover the cups loosely with a paper towel. If it’s too hot, like dehydrators or other similar machines, it can cook the tomato seed and cause it to become sterile. So, if you planted an heirloom tomato plant this year, now’s the time to pick a tomato so you can save its seeds. 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. Spread the wet seeds out on a paper plate, coffee filter or screen to dry, scattering … Some swear by this relatively new method of seed saving. When your seeds are dry, place them in an airtight container. If you don’t mind potential gradual changes over time, cross-pollinated seeds can still grow, too. Put the jar aside for four of … Each variety of tomatoes should be fermented on its own, not mixed with seeds from other varieties. As the gel breaks down, the seeds inside are released and are then free to germinate. Ferment Your Seeds Collect the seeds from the tomato. Harvest the Seeds. The other interesting thing I’ve learned about tomato seed is its surprising longevity, which is not something you would know if you read many commercial seed catalogs, whose success is based on bringing people back to purchase seeds each year. Check on the Fermentation. Otherwise, unwanted moisture from the air will be drawn into the containers and negate the work that was done to enhance the seed life. Some people like to collect and save tomato seeds without going through the fermentation process. When it comes time to plant next year, cut or rip off individual segments of towel and tomato seeds for planting. Date and label with the tomato variety. Canadian Subscribers - Click Here Passing on this homestead/garden wisdom is a duty – a duty that should be fun! And the first step of that is harvesting tomato seeds. 1. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. 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. Sacrifice a few of these over-ripe tomatoes to squeeze into juice, too. Sign in with your online account. • Sharp knife I like to store mine in an airtight container, in paper envelopes with a moisture absorbing silica packet amongst them. 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