Kristen Martinek1 Comment

Saving Your Tomato Seeds: A Simple Tutorial

Kristen Martinek1 Comment
Saving Your Tomato Seeds: A Simple Tutorial

I may be slightly biased but I do believe everything tastes better when it's in season and picked at peak ripeness. I'll chock that one up to years of growing my own food; I've become spoilt on good food and there are some things I can't eat when they are out of season. Among the top of this list is tomatoes... I simply cannot bring myself to eat them in the middle of winter because they lack the most important part: flavor! If you don't believe me, eat a tomato this upcoming winter. Notice how you're eating mushy air. 

So, imagine (or for some of you recall) a moment when you bite into a freshly picked, perfectly ripe tomato on a hot, summer day. The taste so sweet & exquisite, the smell intoxicating, and the juices flowing out of every nook & cranny. Food should be eliciting pleasurable experiences like this - stopping you in your tracks and saying oh my gawwwd.  You take this bite and think oh my gosh! I could live off these delicious tomatoes. Lucky you, you have the ability to do just that all for likely less than the cost of one sad winter tomato by saving some seeds this year. The whole process takes about 

But you'll need to jump on this quickly as tomato season is about to be over! 

How to Save your tomato seeds

The first and most important step in saving your seeds is finding the variety(ies) you love. If you're growing tomatoes, this may prove easier because you already know which ones are growing well in your area and that taste best. But you can just as easily save seeds from your favorite tomatoes you're getting from the farmers' market, in your CSA box or even at the store. Whatever floats your boat, ya know?

  1. Remove any remaining stem if present. Slice the tomatoes in half, with the stem side up. 
Sliced tomatoes ready for seed saving  

Sliced tomatoes ready for seed saving

 

1. Take a spoon and gently push out the seeds (& the gel they are encased in) into a small jar or container. Try and keep out as much flesh as you can {set aside for eating}.  

2. Once you've collected as many seeds as you want, add about 1/2 cup of water and cover with a lid. Give it a shake and set aside, outside of direct sunlight, for three to five days. Make sure to label each container with the tomato variety.

Tomato, melon & cucumber seeds fermenting

Tomato, melon & cucumber seeds fermenting

 

3. After 3-5 days, the seeds will be fermented and ready to be dried. There will be a frothy like layer on top - an indication that the lacto-fermentation process is in fact working. Spoon away that film & using a fine mesh strainer, drain the seeds as best as you can and pick out any additional pulp if there is any. Give them a good rinse. 

4. Add some fresh water back into your jar and give it a stir. Repeat another 2-3 times until most of the pulp is gone. Drain the seeds as best as you can.

6. Now it's time to dry your seeds! Transfer your seeds in a single layer on a small screen or freezer paper. It's best not to let them dry on plastic or ceramic plates because you need the water to be wicked away. Let seeds dry for a good 5-7 days, until they are fully dry. If you rush this process, they will get moldy. 

7. Once your seeds are dry, transfer them into an air-tight container (or reuse an old seed packet). I love using old spice jars, small four ounce mason jars or anything else that is lying around that provides a solid seal. And be sure to label the variety & year!

Storing your seeds

I prefer to store my seeds (housed in seed packets) in the freezer to prevent exposure to excess heat or humidity - but you can just as easily store in a cooler section of your house or garage out of direct sunlight. You are aiming to keep them in a space with low humidity. For seeds that are in glass containers, I recommend storing outside of the freezer, so that moisture doesn't collect on the inside of the jars when removing from the freezer. It only takes a few seconds for that to happen - running the risk of your seeds getting wet. 

And there you have it! You're all set to grow your own tomatoes next season from seeds of this year's harvest. Easy peasy. If you have the space, you can grow an abundance of delicious tomatoes and preserve them to last you all winter long :)