Saving tomato seeds


When my first tiny orange tomatoes ripened in June I was smiling and dancing about! More than the soupy air and spontaneous thunderstorms, tomatoes are summer. So, I ate four and set aside two- for seeds.

Last fall we spent a glorious sunny day at the Harvest Heritage festival. Under one of the tents were tomato samples and it was there that I found four or so delicious varieties that I wanted to grow. So, I took a taste and kept a piece from each of the kinds that I enjoyed most (And I bought several packets of herb and veggie seeds, I’m not a total free-loader!). When I got home I extracted the seeds and got them ready for the following spring. And now, miracle of miracles, I’m eating those same tomatoes off of the vine!

Tomatoes from scavenged seed (and several types of basil from purchased seed) 

Around that same time my husband went on his own tomato excursion to the grocery store and bought several different varieties of local heirloom tomatoes. Those suckers weren’t cheap but we certainly got our money’s worth: I removed seeds from those special fruits and they too are responsible for this season’s bounty.

If you want to save some of your own favorite tomato seeds here’s the method I used:

You’ll need:
-a clean cutting board
-slicing knife
-glass jar or drinking glass
-fine sieve (I use a tea strainer)
-paper towels or paper bag


-First you will cut the tomato horizontally through the middle (stem dimple is north pole, fat middle is equator- slice through equator).
-Then squeeze the seeds and tomato goop surrounding the seeds into the glass. There are a lot of seeds in there so you can do what I did which was eat half the tomato and de-seed the other half.
-Eat or compost the skin and tomato flesh. Yum.
-Fill the glass so that all of the seeds/goop is covered by at least two inches of water.
-Set aside. I put mine on a sunny windowsill but I’m not sure if that makes things go more quickly or not.

Seeds in water on windowsill

-After about 3-4 days the water will be gross. This is a good sign as it means the goop is separating from the seeds.
-Pour the water, goop and all, into the sieve. The seeds should remain sans goop.
-Rinse the seeds and spread in a single, well-spaced layer onto the paper towel or if you are like me and don’t use paper towels, a brown paper bag will do nicely (a dish towel will most likely cause the seeds to stick to the fibers of the cloth and could make for a difficult last step).
*Make sure you label the paper if you are doing more than one type of tomato as the seeds look alike.
-Let the seeds fully dry for another day or two.
-Transfer the seeds into labeled envelopes. Seal and store in a cool dry place.

Do you save your seeds? Any tips?