Saving Tomato Seeds

It’s time to save seeds from all those wonderful tomatoes coming out of the garden.  I remember my grandmother’s little seed packets that she made herself using paper envelopes and the seeds from her garden.  I remember using them to plant, but I don’t remember her drying the seeds in the fall, so I wasn’t sure how she did it.   I decided to save some tomato seeds this year, and I need to show this before the tomatoes are all gone in case you want to save yours too.  These tomatoes came from my garden, all except the large yellow one.

Tomatoes at From My Carolina Home

Tomato seeds are embedded in tomato jelly, and I found an easy way to get them clean by doing an internet search.  I really do not know if my gran did it this way or not, but it worked very well, so here is how I did it.  First, I gathered my tomatoes, and labeled three vintage mason jars with the three different varieties.   Start by cutting the tomatoes in half along the middle horizontally.

Saving Tomato Seeds at From My Carolina Home

Scoop the seeds and jelly into the jar, getting as much out as you can.

Saving Tomato Seeds at From My Carolina Home

Now, add some water to the jar, not a lot, about the same amount as the seeds and jelly. Roughly double the volume.

Saving Tomato Seeds at From My Carolina Home

Here is the Cherokee Purple seeded with its jar of seeds and water.  There was a bit more I went back to get.  I sliced the tomato left for sandwiches and tomato pie.

Saving Tomato Seeds at From My Carolina Home

Then I did several red heirlooms.

Saving Tomato Seeds at From My Carolina Home

I like yellow tomatoes too, this one came from the store. By saving its seeds, I might have some in my garden next year.

Saving Tomato Seeds at From My Carolina Home

Now, let them sit on the counter and ferment for several days. I left mine for a week, shaking the jars several times over the week. A week later, there is a definite separation between the pulp and the water.

Saving Tomato Seeds at From My Carolina Home

Now, dump the seeds into a fine mesh strainer and rinse under running water.

Saving Tomato Seeds at From My Carolina Home

The jelly will rinse off easily.

Saving Tomato Seeds at From My Carolina Home

Then spread the seeds out on a paper towel and allow them to dry. I wrote the variety on the towel and prepared a little plastic bag to hold them with a bit of paper labeled with the name. Each variety got its own paper towel for drying.  Those seeds look identical, so you have to take care in labeling and keeping them straight with more than one variety.

Saving Tomato Seeds at From My Carolina Home

I let the seeds dry for a least a day, and put them in the little bags. I stored them with my other seeds in the basement, cool and dry. I hope that they grow next year, will see!!  The second harvest gave me more red heirlooms and a medium size Cherokee purple.

Tomatoes at From My Carolina Home

More Cherokee Purples from the garden, along with some basic red slicers locally grown from the store.

Tomato Pie at From My Carolina Home

And I’ll save more seeds just to be increase the odds that I get viable ones.

Saving Tomato Seeds at From My Carolina Home

Have you ever saved seeds?

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Saving Tomato Seeds at From My Carolina Home

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19 thoughts on “Saving Tomato Seeds

  1. debdevo

    I can’t believe you are STILL getting tomatoes from your garden!!! For the most part our plants were done at least a month ago…the heat just seemed to wither them. Can’t wait for the pie recipe!

  2. I would love to do this! I gave up gardening for a couple of years because I was tired of fighting the losing battle with the neighbourhood rabbits! But I think I have a way to make a raised bed and would love to get back into it again.

  3. lehl

    We take a ripe tomato and put the seeds on paper towel and keep transferring to another paper towel till all the moisture is gone. then put paper towel with tomato seeds on top of refrigerator for a week or so then put in paper envelope have done this for over 50 years.

  4. We save seeds from everything we can, and the heirloom varieties have sure made that easy. The hybrids aren’t usually any good, or the result is a little scary! This year we have saved corn, cantaloupe and beans, and I expect we will save tomato, peppers and spinach if they last long enough to,go to seed. We allow the herbs to reseed themselves in their little greenhouse…will see if that works.😄 it’s too bad that the veggies don’t do as well as the weeds!!

  5. Mary Jo

    I saved seeds without planning to! I have a compost bin and early in the spring, I took out some of the compost and added it to the pots that I grow my tomatoes in. I decided after that not to plant any plants since there is a great produce stand really close to me house that has wonderful produce. After a few days I looked in the pots and there were tomato plants…Lots of plants. I thinned them down to 2 in each pot and have had more tomatoes than we can eat! My neighbors have benefited.
    My grandfather was a farmer and never a year past that he didn’t save lots and lots of seeds from all kinds of things…especially tomatoes and watermelons!

    1. Melita Todd

      My composted tomatoes from this summers crop have come up and producing. Since it’s October already don’t know how they will do but it’s fun to watch. I am in Alabama and it’s still summer here.

  6. catsandroses

    My Mom saves her heirloom tomato seeds each year, with the original plant coming from my long deceased Grandmom. She has the best tomatoes, and both of my east coast sisters grow theirs from those seeds as well. She just sticks some seeds on a paper towel, lets them dry for a few days, then puts them in a paper envelope (no plastic, as the slightest bit of moisture could make them moldy). Our tomato growing season is too short to grow from seed — I always buy the largest plants I can find from the nursery to make sure I have fresh tomatoes. I do save the seeds from flowers, though, spreading them to other areas of my yard. And recently took some cuttings to propagate more roses — LOVE it when they ‘take’ and I get new plants from the mommy plants. I only grew one rose plant from a seed, and it was rather unusual, since a hybrid. Was fun to see it bloom that first time, having grown it from seed.

  7. Hmmm never thought to do this. But then again I’m not a big gardener. But oh do I appreciate good cooking…as that pie looks yummy!!!

  8. I saved tomato seeds for years, and did it exactly the way you’ve described. Dried-on pulp always seemed to reduce my germination rate, and this was the easiest way to remove it. Enjoy those tomatoes!

  9. karenfae

    those are beautiful looking tomatoes – I hadn’t thought to save seeds but all the tomatoes that the bugs had been getting at I tossed on the ground of the raised beds – I might get some volunteer tomato plants next year. My brother has some beautiful pumpkins this year and he got his seeds last year from a guy that has been saving his pumpkin seeds year after year and has some of the prettiest light orange color pumpkins they look like a heritage type if you know what I mean not bright orange and not pink – but somewhere in between

  10. I have never saved seeds, but you have made it look very doable! When I lived in Rochester, there was a grower that sold 20+ heirloom tomato plant varieties and the soil there was so good. I miss the heirloom tomatoes, I need to grow some next year.

  11. Hi Carole,
    I was so not exposed to anything like this growing up – it’s a shame. I never knew you could save the seeds. Duh – I never have it a thought. I can hardly wait to see if they grow next year! ~smile~ Roseanne

  12. dezertsuz

    That was really interesting. I’ve not saved tomato seeds, though I’ve saved pepper seeds before, and apple, too. I’m looking forward to your next tomato pie experiment.

  13. Beverly A Shavey

    I save my seeds in paper envelopes to prevent any chance of a mold ruining them. Had that happen a couple times with plastic bag storage. Just saying for your consideration and perhaps as a heads up. Paper has been best for me.

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