There are a lot of websitestelling you how to save tomato seeds. It seems that all of them have an quite elaborate way to separate the seeds from the gelatinous tomato meat that surrounds them inside the tomato. I think there is a much easier way and I want to share that with you.
I watched a video of someone saving their tomato seeds. They cut the tomato in half, then scooped all of the insides out with a spoon. They filled a canning jar with all this tomato meat and then added just a little bit of water. They covered the container to keep bugs out and then left it to sit. As it ferments the seeds rise to the top and site under a layer of mold. Once this has happened, which takes anywhere from a few days to a week or more, you can scoop off the mold, strain the seeds, dry them and then store them.
This worked well (although it is extra work), and in the video they had hundreds of seeds. The couple who made the video were homesteaders, so I will assume they are growing a lot of tomatoes and need hundreds of seeds.
I’m just a gardener. This year I have planted about 50 tomato plants which is probably about 30 more than too many for us. I really only need a dozen plants or so to get the crop of fresh tomatoes we are looking for. I may try canning this year since I have so many, or I’ll be giving a lot of tomatoes away. I have so many plants because I planted all the seeds I saved from last year’s crop. Of course I could of just thrown 30 sprouts into the compost, but that’s not fun now is it!
Here is how I save my seeds. I select the best looking tomato from a plant and pick it when it is just ripe. I do believe that the seeds are in their prime when the fruit is ripe, but not over ripe. Many other sources agree that you should use the best looking and tasting tomatoes for seed saving.
I take the fruit to my cutting board and slice it into whatever size slices I want. Hamburger sized, or sometimes even cubes or quarters. It really doesn’t matter. However you like the eat the tomato will work just fine. With this method the more cuts you make the more seeds you will get.
Then I eat the tomato. What is now left is some gooey mess on my cutting board that has a bunch of seeds in it. If there are not enough seeds go ahead and cut up another tomato. Be sure to eat it. This method does not require you to sacrifice a tomato just to get the seeds out of it.
OK, now take a clean fresh paper towel and wipe up the mess on your cutting board being careful to get all of the seeds onto the paper towel. Get a plate, paper is fine, and spread the paper towel out as flat as you can on the plate. No needs to fuss, just get it so air will dry it.
In a couple of days check on it. It should be completely dry. If it isn’t wait another few days for it to dry. If it is moldy or scuzzy looking, you may not of got it spread out enough to dry, or maybe it’s in a damp location. It should be all dried out within a few days. I have done mine on a windowsill that can be bright in the morning, but is just daylight the rest of the day. You can do it anywhere. I recommend in daylight, not in the dark, but any place that will allow it to dry. Therefore the basement is not a good idea.
At this point I take the paper towel into my hands and kind of scrunch it up and then scrape or rub the seeds off onto the plate. They should pretty much be separate from that gooey membrane they were so completely enveloped in. Once they are all off the paper towel and onto the plate I simply sift them off into the envelope that they will be stored in until next spring. I might need to pick at some paper towel that is stuck to the seeds, (you can really store them away like that) or if you have enough you can just toss them.
Some of the other sites online recommend to store them in the refrigerator for the winter but I prefer a desk drawer. Anywhere that is dry seems to be a good place for me. I don’t find that refrigeration is required at all.
The first year I used this method to save seeds I thought it wouldn’t work. After reading all these other websites I thought the seeds needed this moldy fermentation process for some reason. So I planted some into a six pack. Just a couple of weeks later I had six plants growing. This spring I planted all the seed that I had, which turned up to be about 50 plants. I found a place for them all, although I had to dig over some new garden, and fit a few into the flower border around the house. I’m now eating those tomatoes and I can attest that all the extra work with mold and fermentation is just not necessary. After all … you are wiping the cutting board clean anyway right?