How to Save Tomato Seeds
Slideshow: Saving Your Favourite Tomatoes for Next Season
If you enjoy eating tomatoes ripe from your garden, consider saving the seed of some of this season’s harvest for next year. Saving tomato seeds is easy. The basic rule is to choose heirloom and open-pollinated tomatoes for seed saving rather than hybrids, because cross-mated hybrid tomatoes will not produce true copies.
In nature, fruits such as tomatoes ferment before detaching their seeds from the pulp. If you want to save tomato seeds, you need to “wet process” the seeds in much the same way nature does.
1. Choose a healthy, open-pollinated tomato. Save tomatoes when they are good and ripe (but not overripe) and slip right off the vine. Select healthy specimens that reflect the qualities (such as good size, great flavour or resistance to disease) you most want to encourage in next year’s crop.
2. Cut the tomato and scoop the seeds, gel and juice into a cup.
3. Add 1/2 cup of filtered, non-chlorinated water and let the tomato gel set for 3 days to ferment.
4. As it ferments, the mixture becomes cloudy and the seeds come loose from the gel. The good seeds sink to the bottom.
5. After 3 days, mould will start to form on the surface. Pour off any mould and floating seeds, and capture the remaining seeds with a small strainer.
6. Rinse the seeds under running water to remove any remaining gel.
7. Dump the seeds onto a paper towel and spread them out to dry at room temperature. Do not dry them in the sun.
8. When the seeds are completely dry, save them in a sealed container and store in a cool, dry place. Depending on the variety, tomato seeds will last for as long as 4 to 10 years.
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