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Saving tomato seeds

(Laura) Olympia, WA(Zone 8a)

Ok, I have some heirloom tomatoes, do I just take the seeds, rinse and dry them, or do I need to do something special?

Portland, OR(Zone 8a)

Hi Laura,

There are more steps for tomatoes that will help germination and help prevent disease. Cut the tomato in half lengthwise and scoop out the goop and seeds. Then put it all in a jar and cover with water. Cover the top of the jar with cheese cloth or other material that is porous enough to let air in and out. You could use wax paper and poke holes in it. I use a small canning jar and secure the cloth with just the band.

Place this in a warm place. Sunny window sill, top of the fridge or water heater. The process is fermentation and will take a few days. Once a day stir the contents of the jar. When the fermentation is done most of the glop should be floating on the surface.

Now you can remove the glop and rinse the seeds well in a fine sieve. Spread them out on a dry surface. I find a coffee filter is a good thing to use. You want the seeds to be as single layer and as separate as possible and make sure they dry thoroughly before storing. The seeds should move around freely and not stick together.

I like to store mine in paper envelopes. Little manila coin envelopes are ideal for small quantities. Some people use plastic but I worry that moisture might get trapped in and ruin the seeds. Then comes the long wait until it is time to plant.

Anyway that is how I do it and it works. There may be better or just different methods. I hope this helps and good luck.

Greenacres, WA

Your directions on how to do it is very good. It sounds like you can use this method with any seed.

Portland, OR(Zone 8a)

marciaspe: Not sure what you mean by any seed. The reason, as I understand it, that you do this with tomato seeds is that the gelatinous substance that surrounds the seeds is there specifically to prevent the seeds from sprouting inside the tomato. Left to its own devices the tomato would fall to the ground and gradually rot away until all that was left would be the seeds. Or, it would be eaten and the animal's digestive function would serve the same purpose of removing the protective layers. This is just my understanding from things I have gleaned and not based on any real knowlege. Amazing the lengths we go to in order to reproduce what happens naturally.

To soak seeds that do not need the fermentation process would risk the seed starting to sprout in the water and the subsequent drying could easily make the seed non-germinating.


Sometimes, if you are as neglectful as I am, tomato seeds sprout during this process, as well!
I've never bothered with covering the glass or jar. Seems like extra work and materials.
Oh, and Laura, don't forget to label the jars/glasses/or whatever!!! I did that one year and din't know what I was growing the next year until I had tomatoes on the vine! Entertaining, but dumb!


Downers Grove, IL(Zone 5a)

Don't forget the wonderful aroma you have for a day or two! One year I about drove myself crazy cleaning, cleaning, cleaning until I finally figured it out LOL!

(Laura) Olympia, WA(Zone 8a)

I forgot to add water and they molded, I'll have to try again next time.

Laura, They are supposed to! It should not be a problem. If you have not thrown them out, just add water now. Of course, if you still have plenty of the same tomatoes you an start over!

(Laura) Olympia, WA(Zone 8a)

It was just an heirloom from Safeway, I'll try again. So they are supposed to mold?

Yes, as Z says, the whole point is to ferment off the sticky goo that surrounds the seeds. This is also done with cucumber seeds, by the way. Of, course, you want the mold to separate from the seeds. If tou do this right, usually most of the good seeds sink to the bottom, making it easy to pour off the fermented goo and the immature seeds.

(Laura) Olympia, WA(Zone 8a)

Sounds good, I'll pick up another heirloom next time I go to the store or Farmer's market.

Greenacres, WA

I thought about using this method for Kiwi or cantalope or simular type of seeds.

Kiwi, maybe. Melons do not need anything more than to be carhully washed off and then dried.

Greenacres, WA

You are so right. I saved some from Kiwi fruit and it was a big job.
this way would be so much easier. I am going to start some more in the spring
and try to see if mulching them deep, will save them through the cold. I am in Spokane WA

Hi Marcia! What a coincidence! I grew up in Spokane! It's always a surprise to meet another Spokanite here on DG with me so long away!

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

If you check the resource "sticky" thread at the top of the tomato forum, you'll find a great tutorial by Horseshoe on how to ferment tomato seeds for seed saving... pretty much as Michael said. :-)

I remove the gunk from the seeds after fermenting by adding water, swishing, and pouring the water off (repeatedly). The seeds sink to the bottom of the glass, and everything else floats up and gets rinsed away.

I think cucumber seeds are also saved this way, as P. said.

Greenacres, WA

Potagere You are a long ways from home.
critterologist thanks for the reply I will try it next spring.

Well, this IS home now!
You need to try the seed saving this summer. By next Spring, any of this year's tomatoes will gave done the fermenting for you!

Greenacres, WA

Ok thanks, I'll do that. What time of day is it there now? My time is 2:03am
How do you like it there?

It's now 11:08. We are 9 hours later than you!
I really love it here. We live in the country, in a small village on the slopes of the Jura, where we have a view over the valley of the Rhone River and Lake Geneva to the Alps that would cost us a million bucks in the US! People are friendly & courteous. The weather is generally pretty pleasant. We'll be back in Spokane on home leave next month and I can't say I'm looking forward to it. My daughter told me its 95 and dry!

(Laura) Olympia, WA(Zone 8a)

Potagere - The weather will have cooled down by the time you get here. It's only Wed. it's only supposed to have a high of 67 degrees. You should remember, "if you don't like the weather wait 5 min."

Ah, yes. But that's Olympia! My sister-in-law is on the phone reporting 103 yesterday abd high 90s in Spokane today, where the saying goes: "If you don't like the weather, move."

(Laura) Olympia, WA(Zone 8a)

Sorry, the 67 was for Spokane. I meant to make that clearer. My cousin is getting married over there on Friday, so I've vaguely been paying attention to the weather over there. My aunt and her family live on the other side of the mountains.

Well, in any case, you're probably right that it will be cooler in late September!

Greenacres, WA

Today was 96 degrees and 62 Degrees tonight, we had thunder and winds,causing some fires when the trees were blown over on the electric lines.
I know this is a gardening site but would love to see pictures of gardens were you are.
Spokane Valley

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