Saving Tomato Seed

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Learn how to save tomato seed for future crops.

Learn about saving tomato seed from your garden with this helpful seed saving guide.

Saving Tomato Seed

To extract tomato seed from the fruit, cut the fruit in half along the equator and squeeze the seeds, with the juice and some pulp, into a plastic yogurt or cottage cheese container. Place the container in a warm spot to allow this slurry to ferment. The fermentation is desirable for two reasons: Yeasts will rot away the placental sack in which each seed resides, leaving behind clean, easy-to-use seed and removing any bacterial diseases that could affect the next crop.

After two to three days of fermentation, a thick, moldy mass will form on the surface. Stir vigorously to break up the mass, and the good seeds will sink to the bottom. Decant the floating seeds carefully, and add more water. Repeat the process until all that remains is clean water and good seed. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer and allow to drip dry before spreading the seeds on a plate for their final, thorough drying.

John Navazio, Ph.D., is director of seed grower development at the Abundant Life Seed Foundation in Port Townsend, Washington, and owner of his own company, Seed Movement, in Bellingham, Washington.

Read more about growing and saving seeds: Grow Your Own Seeds.