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How to Save Tomato Seeds
by Kerry Heafner - posted 09/18/15


How to Save Tomato Seeds
video transcript

Well, today I'm going to show you how to save seeds from everybody's favorite crop. Our homegrown tomato. So, lets go back to the kitchen, and I'll show you how to save tomato seeds.

So, we're going to start by simply slicing a tomato open. And you can see how the seeds are kind of embedded in this juice on the inside. Tomatoes are actually berries. They're fleshy, mini-seeded fruits, and we're going to have to get the seeds out by simply squeezing the contents into this bowl.

Now, the next step is simply pouring all the seeds along with the juice and some of the pulp into a mason jar like you might use to make pickles in. The idea now is to allow the contents of the jar to ferment so microorganism can digest away all the pulp and the jelly around the seeds that might impede germination next season. And the way we're going to do that is we're are going to simply cover the top of the jar with a piece of precut cheese cloth. And you can find cheesecloth in any home center or paint store. And we're just simply going to put the lid down over the cheese cloth like that and make sure it's secure. Now, we'll set this in a dark area in the kitchen — say on top of the refrigerator or way back in back the kitchen cabinets and allow it to ferment for a couple of weeks.

So, here we are about two weeks later. and this is our jar of seeds and you'll notice a couple of things. first of all there's the layer of mold growing on top of the liquid. I know it looks gross, but those microorganisms are crucial to this process. They digest away the pieces of the pulp and the jelly like substance that coated the seeds inside the fruit. You'll also notice that some of the seeds have settled to the bottom of the jar, and those will be the viable seeds. The nonviable seeds are still suspended in the solution.

So, to get the seeds out of the bottom of the jar. We are going to take the lid off, remove the cheesecloth   and pour the contents of the jar mold and all (well maybe we'll leave some of the mold in the jar … as much as we can anyway) into this handheld strainer. And now we'll just run this under a stream of water to wash the seeds off.

So, after washing our seeds are now clean, and we're ready to spread them out on some wax paper to dry before we package them up. So, now we're going to pour the clean seeds out of the strainer onto some wax paper, and we're going to use wax paper to prevent the wet seeds from sticking down like they would if we used regular paper. And we're just going to spread these out so they can air dry for a couple days. So, after several days of air drying our seeds are ready to be poured off the wax paper in to some coin envelopes which are available at your local office supply store. And I've precut the wax paper to a smaller size so we can deal with it a lot easer. And I've creased it to make pouring the seeds a lot easier. Some are inevitably going to jump away. So, now our seeds can be stored until next season. All we have to do is label the envelope so we make sure we have the right variety next year.

Good luck saving seeds for your vegetable garden next season. I'm Kerry Heafner with the LSU Ag Center.


Kerry D. Heafner is assistant extension agent in horticulture at the LSU AgCenter’s Ouachita Parish extension office in West Monroe. He is NE Region coordinator for the Louisiana Master Gardener program, and is an adjunct instructor of biology at Louisiana Delta Community College in Monroe.