This year we bought all of our tomato plants as starts from a local garden shop. Since they were organically grown heirloom varieties, they were a bit pricey. It’s definitely not cost effective to purchase starts year after year, so I decided to preserve some of the seeds from our two favorite varieties, Brandywine and San Marzano, to grow them again next year. Hopefully, after a few years of this, we will have plants completely suited to our local growing conditions.
As usual, I did a quick Google search to get started. After reading through a few websites, I realized that the basics include gathering, fermenting, drying and storing the seeds. Easy peasy.
- Cut a tomato in half and remove some of the seeds and pulp.
- Placed the seeds in a small glass bowl, cover it with plastic wrap (poke a hole on top) and set it in a warm spot. (I used our kitchen windowsill, but it is somewhat shaded. You may not want to bake the seeds in full sun.)
- Let the seeds sit for 3-4 days, giving the bowl a swirl every day. It’s fine if a bit of scum forms around the edges.
- Next, carefully pour off the majority of the liquid, dump the seeds into a fine sieve and give them a good rinse.
- Spread the seeds out on a paper towel in a single layer, and let them sit for a few days until they are completely dry. (You might want to flip the seeds after a day or two to make sure they dry on both sides.)
- Seal the dry seeds in a small envelope, label the envelope and then store in a cool, dry place.
I’m already looking forward to next tomato season. There is nothing quite like a juicy heirloom tomato just off the vine!