How to Save Tomato Seeds: A Step-by-Step Guide to Preserving and Storing Tomato Seeds

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How to Save Tomato Seeds: A Step-by-Step Guide to Preserving and Storing Tomato Seeds

When you grow your own tomatoes, you’ll have access to a variety of delicious and unique heirloom varieties that you won’t find in the grocery store. If you plan on saving tomato seeds from these heirlooms for future planting, there are some simple methods you can follow to ensure you’re properly storing them for use again.

The first step in saving tomato seeds is to harvest the tomatoes when they are fully ripe. Once you’ve selected the tomatoes you want to save, cut them open and scoop out the pulp into a bowl. It’s important to separate the pulp from the seeds, as the fermentation process will be the most effective when the seeds are clean and dry.

To ferment the tomato seeds, cover the pulp with a bit of water and allow it to sit in a warm location for about 2 days. During this time, the fermentation process will break down the coating on the seeds, helping them to germinate more evenly. It’s also a good idea to stir the mixture once or twice a day to prevent any mold from growing.

After the fermentation process is complete, pour the mixture through a fine mesh filter to separate the seeds from the pulp. Rinse the seeds well with clean water, and then spread them out on a surface covered with newspaper or a towel to dry. Allow the seeds to dry completely, which can take up to 1 week depending on the warmth and humidity in your area.

Once the tomato seeds are dry, you can store them for future use. One option is to place them in an airtight container, such as a small glass jar or an envelope, and store them in a cool, dark location. Another method is to put the seeds in a paper towel and fold it up, then store the towel in a clearly labeled envelope. Whichever method you choose, be sure to keep the seeds dry and free from moisture, as any residual moisture can cause them to rot.

By following these simple steps, you can easily save tomato seeds from your favorite heirloom varieties and grow them again in future seasons. With this modern twist on an age-old practice, you can continue to enjoy the pleasing smell and taste of your own homegrown tomatoes year after year!

How to Save Tomato Seeds to Grow Next Year

Saving tomato seeds is a perfect way to repeat your favorite tomato varieties year after year. It’s a simple and rewarding process that can be done by hand. Often, home gardeners choose to save seeds from heirloom varieties rather than the ones found in grocery stores. These heirloom varieties offer a wider range of flavors and are often more pleasing to the palate.

The first step is to choose the perfect tomato fruits for seed saving. Look for fully ripe and heavy tomatoes. The best method is to scoop out the seeds and gel into a quart-sized jar along with one to two cups of water. Soak the mixture for a few days, stirring occasionally to break apart the gel.

Once the fermentation process is complete, pour the mixture into a bowl and rinse the seeds. If you prefer organic methods, you can use a mesh towel to strain the seeds and then wash them. If you choose the fermentation method, be sure to follow the instructions for preserving and storing fermented seeds.

After the seeds are clean and dry, it’s time to store them for the next year. You can use a paper envelope or a small glass jar to keep the seeds safe. Make sure to label the container with the tomato variety and the date of harvest.

My favorite method for storing tomato seeds is to use a small envelope or a piece of newspaper. Fold the seeds into the paper and secure the edges with tape or a stapler. This makes it easy to store the seeds and keep them organized.

When you’re ready to plant your saved tomato seeds, choose a sunny location and prepare the soil according to your specific tomato variety. Plant the seeds according to the instructions on the seed packet, and water them regularly.

By following these simple steps, you can save and store tomato seeds for long-term use. It’s a rewarding and cost-effective way to grow your own delicious tomatoes year after year. Happy tomato growing!

When to Save Tomato Seeds

Knowing when to save tomato seeds is crucial for successfully growing tomatoes from saved seed. By understanding the proper timing, you can ensure that your seeds are saved correctly and will be viable for future planting. Here’s what you need to know:

Tomato seeds are ready to be saved when the tomatoes are fully ripe. Choose ripe, disease-free tomatoes for seed saving. Be sure to select tomatoes from open-pollinated or heirloom varieties, as hybrid tomatoes may not produce true to type.

Once you have selected the tomatoes, you will need to remove the seeds from the pulp. To do this, cut the tomatoes in half and squeeze gently to release the seed-pulp mixture. Spoon the mixture into a clean bowl and add water. Stir the mixture well, then set it aside for a few days to ferment. This fermentation process helps remove the gelatinous coating around the seeds, which can inhibit germination.

After the fermentation period, pour the mixture through a mesh filter to remove any remaining pulp. Rinse the seeds well under running water, stirring them gently to ensure that all the pulp is removed.

Next, spread the cleaned seeds on a plate lined with parchment paper or a coffee filter. Allow the seeds to dry completely in a well-ventilated area. This can take anywhere from several days to a couple of weeks, depending on the humidity and temperature. Make sure the seeds are evenly spaced and not touching each other to prevent mold or rot.

Once the seeds are dry, store them in a clean, dry, and airtight container. Label the container with the variety, date, and any other relevant information. Keep the container in a cool, dark place, such as a pantry or refrigerator, to ensure the long-term viability of the seeds. The ideal temperature for seed storage is around 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius).

It’s important to note that saving tomato seeds isn’t always the best option. Some tomato varieties are better purchased from reputable seed suppliers each year, as their seeds may not store well or may not produce the same results after being saved. If you notice that your saved seeds are not sprouting or producing true to type after a few years, it may be time to refresh your stock by purchasing new seeds.

By following these simple instructions for saving tomato seeds, you can grow your own tomatoes year after year, ensuring a steady supply of your favorite varieties. Just remember to choose your tomatoes wisely, process them correctly, and store them with care for the best results!


References:

  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture Seed Storage and Germination [Online] Available: https://www.arc.agric.za/arc-ppri/Documents/Webwerf%20Seed%20%20Storage%20and%20Germination.pdf [Accessed: March 18, 2022]
  2. Gardening Know How When To Harvest Tomato Seeds – How And When To Pick Tomato Seed Pods [Online] Available: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/tomato/pick-tomato-seed-pods.htm [Accessed: March 18, 2022]
  3. University of California Cooperative Extension The Care and Preservation of Heirloom Tomato Seed [Online] Available: http://ucce.ucdavis.edu/files/datastore/391-629.pdf [Accessed: March 18, 2022]
  4. Seed Savers Exchange How to Save Tomato Seeds [Online] Available: https://www.seedsavers.org/how-to-save-tomato-seeds [Accessed: March 18, 2022]

Working With Tomato Seeds

Once you’ve saved tomato seeds, it’s time to start working with them. The first step is to remove the seeds from the fruit. To do this, cut open the tomato and scoop out the pulp and seeds into a container. Stir the pulp and seeds together, using a spoon or similar tool. The pulp and seeds should be fully mixed.

Next, you’ll need to separate the seeds from the pulp. There are several methods you can use for this. One popular method is to ferment the seeds. To do this, place the pulp and seed mixture in an airtight container and let it sit for three to five days. During this time, the mixture will begin to ferment, and you’ll notice a distinct odor. After the fermenting period is over, pour the mixture into a quart-sized jar and fill it with water. The good seeds will sink to the bottom, while any bad seeds or debris will float to the top. Carefully pour off the floating debris, then pour the good seeds and water into a mesh strainer to separate them. Rinse the seeds well under running water to remove any remaining pulp.

If you prefer to skip the fermenting step, you can also remove the seeds directly from the pulp without fermenting them. Simply scoop out the pulp and seeds into a mesh strainer, and wash the seeds under running water to remove the pulp. This method works best if you’re only saving seeds from a few tomatoes.

Once you have separated the seeds from the pulp, it’s time to dry them. Spread the seeds out in a single layer on a clean, dry surface, such as a paper towel or a plate. Allow the seeds to dry completely, which may take up to a week or longer depending on the weather. Be sure to label the drying surface with the tomato variety to avoid confusion later on.

When the seeds are completely dry, they are ready for storing. One popular method of storing tomato seeds is to place them in a small envelope or paper bag and store them in a cool, dry place. Alternatively, you can store them in airtight containers, such as small glass jars or plastic bags. Be sure to label the storage containers with the tomato variety and the date the seeds were saved.

It’s important to properly store tomato seeds to ensure their viability. If stored correctly, tomato seeds can remain viable for several years. However, if they are not stored properly, their viability can decline over time. To increase the longevity of your saved tomato seeds, store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Avoid exposing the seeds to moisture or extreme temperature fluctuations, as this can decrease their viability.

When it’s time to plant your saved tomato seeds, remember that hybridized tomatoes may not produce the exact same fruit as the parent plant. If you want to ensure that you get the same tomato variety, it’s best to save seeds from open-pollinated or heirloom tomatoes. You may also notice that some tomato varieties require cross-pollination by bees or other insects, so if you want to maintain the purity of a particular variety, you’ll need to take steps to prevent cross-pollination with other varieties in your garden.

Working with tomato seeds can be a fun and rewarding experience for any gardener. By saving and storing your own tomato seeds, you’ll be able to grow and enjoy your favorite tomato varieties year after year.

Saving Tomato Seeds

If you’re a gardener who loves growing tomatoes, you might want to consider saving tomato seeds for future planting. Saving tomato seeds is a simple and rewarding process that allows you to preserve and propagate your favorite tomato varieties. Here are the steps to save tomato seeds:

  1. Choose what type of tomatoes to save: Select ripe, healthy tomatoes from the plants you want to save seeds from. You can choose heirloom or hybridized tomatoes based on your preference.
  2. Remove the seeds: Cut the tomatoes in half and scoop out the pulp containing the seeds into a quart-sized jar or container. You can also consider using a corer to easily remove the seeds.
  3. Fermentation method: This is an in-depth method for saving tomato seeds. Fill the jar with water and cover it with a clean cloth or plastic wrap. Let it sit at room temperature for about three to five days. During this time, the pulp will ferment, and the seeds will separate from the rest of the tomato. After fermentation, wash the seeds to remove any remaining pulp or mold.
  4. Drying method: If you prefer a simpler option, you can choose the drying method. Scrape the seeds and pulp into a container and add some water. Allow the mixture to sit for one to two days, rinsing it occasionally. Then, spread the tomato seeds on a paper towel or a clean tarp to dry. Make sure to separate the seeds from each other to avoid clumping.

Once the tomato seeds are dry, you can store them in a cool, dry place for up to a year. Consider using an airtight container or a paper envelope labeled with the tomato variety and the year they were saved.

Saving tomato seeds is a great way to preserve the characteristics of your favorite tomatoes and ensure a steady supply of seeds for future planting. Whether you choose the fermentation or drying method, always make sure to start with healthy and ripe tomatoes and follow the instructions carefully. Happy seed saving!

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.