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Saving Tomato Seeds

October 4th, 2010

I’ve been saving tomato seeds for a few of my favorite varieties including: ‘Principe Borghese’, ‘White Beauty’, ‘Brandywine’ and ‘Goldman’s Italian American’ tomatoes. Saving tomato seeds is an easy process, if you have a favorite heirloom variety you should give it a try to preserve it.

The most important part is choosing a few of your best tomatoes. Obviously these tomatoes have had great germination and have good genes to pass on. Ideally you’d want to choose a few nice ones from different plants (of the same variety of course), but don’t worry if you only planted one plant, the seeds will still be OK. I only have on ‘Brandywine’ plant and I save seed from it every year.

All you need to do to save tomato seeds is to scoop out the seeds and gel and put them into a jar. Add some water and let them sit until a scum/mold forms on the top of the jar. This process ferments the seeds and helps remove them from the gel, I’m guessing it also helps kill bacteria and disease. All the seeds will sink to the bottom when they’re ready to rinse. Generally I let mine sit for a week or two.

You’ll want to skim off the scum/mold, then pour the contents of the jar into a colander and rinse them to get rid of all the gel and any scum. Next you’ll want to spread the seeds on a towel to dry (I prefer a cloth towel as I find the seeds don’t stick as much as they do on a paper towel). When they’re good and dry, put them in a small envelope and label, they’ll be ready to sprout next spring. Make sure you keep them labeled throughout the process as you don’t want to mix them up! Label the jar, label the towel you’re drying them on, and label the envelope, believe me you won’t remember – I know from experience!

Not only is saving your own seeds a great way to keep you favorite tomatoes around, but it’s also a great way to save some money on seeds and have some from trading with friends. You can also give them away to encourage others to garden and grow some of their own food. I’ll be giving away some of mine in a few weeks when I have them all saved.

Do you save your own tomato seeds?

14 Comments to “Saving Tomato Seeds”
  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by mark mile, Susy Morris. Susy Morris said: Saving #Tomato Seeds #heirloomseeds #savingseeds #tomatoseeds […]

    Reply to Tweets that mention How to Save Tomato Seeds | Chiot’s Run —'s comment

  2. Sense of Home on October 4, 2010 at 9:34 am

    I have never saved tomato seeds, I found the process very interesting. Thanks for sharing.


    Reply to Sense of Home's comment

  3. Michelle on October 4, 2010 at 10:27 am

    I plan to in the near future. thanks for the info.

    Reply to Michelle's comment

  4. Kaytee on October 4, 2010 at 10:54 am

    I’m going to save some seeds from the Polish Lingusia plants I grew this year. The are fantastic plants.

    Reply to Kaytee's comment

  5. Miranda on October 4, 2010 at 11:32 am

    Wow – perfect timing.
    I just decided to save some seeds from my two happiest tomato plants from this year.
    Question- can you save seeds from nasty fruits – or should you pick really pretty fruits? My porter is riddled with nasty bugs, but as i’ve tossed a few rotting fruits into the garden and now see poorly timed volunteers springing up, i’m guessing the quality of the fruit i pick doesn’t matter.

    Reply to Miranda's comment

    • Susy on October 4, 2010 at 7:51 pm

      Feel free to save seeds from some nasty fruit. Sometimes when I have one that goes bad on the counter I save the seed and don’t eat it. I generally try to save seeds from the ones that aren’t cracked, but if that’s all you have go ahead!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  6. MAYBELLINE on October 4, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    I really need to start saving seeds. That’s on my list for 2011.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

  7. Karen on October 4, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    Thanks for this information. It was very helpful.

    Reply to Karen's comment

  8. Tommy on October 4, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    Will any tomato seeds work from the garden? I remember reading somewhere that some seeds will not germinate—is that hybrid fruits/vegetables? I never remember. Thanks!

    Reply to Tommy's comment

    • David King on October 12, 2010 at 12:25 am

      You can save seeds from any tomatoes, BUT the hybrids (Big Boy etc) won’t produce the same tomato next year as you had this year. Probably won’t produce a tomato worth eating. The lack of certainty makes wasting the space in your garden a poor gamble. Better to grow non-hybrid varieties you CAN save. david

      Reply to David King's comment

      • Rocky on August 31, 2012 at 12:54 pm

        I know this is a very old post, but I thought I will try anyway. My question is about saving heirloom vegetable seeds. I understand that F1 hybrid will not breed true, but my feeling is that even heirloom vegetable, say tomato, will not breed true if they cross pollinate with other variety of tomato growing nearby. In a small backyard garden, if you are growing more than one variety of tomato, your are going to get some hybridization. So to keep an heirloom variety to breed true, what do gardeners need to do? Grow only one heirloom variety at a time isolated miles away from any other source of cross pollination?

        to Rocky's comment

      • Susy on August 31, 2012 at 1:39 pm

        They can cross-pollinate, but generally they won’t. What you can do to ensure true sees is to hand pollinate and then put a little mesh bag around the blossom. When the tiny fruit form you can take it off – but make sure to mark that fruit. I generally prefer to choose the nicest biggest tomato to save fruit from.

        to Susy's comment

  9. David King on October 12, 2010 at 12:21 am

    HI… I posted a link to this on my Garden Notes ( trying to use the Trackback URL, but I have no idea if it’s working at all. If the instructions on using a Trackback URL was as clear as your instructions on tomato seed saving, the world would be a safer place.


    Reply to David King's comment

  10. Rocky on August 31, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Thank you for answering my question on this old post. I just collected tomato seeds from several of my favorite tomato varieties. Your suggestion is excellent and much appreciated. Although it is bit too late to try that trick this season. Tomato blossom pollinated this time of year will not have time to mature in our climate. I think, since tomato flowers come complete and they self-pollinate, the chance of cross pollination is small, as you said, I hope. I will find out next year! By the way, I collected seeds from an heirloom Trombetta squash belonging in C. moschata last year. I was growing no other squash of this species, but had C. maxima (kabocha squash) and C. pepo (zucchini). My reading source said that they will not cross hybridize, but they are wrong. I used seed from a single fruit, and planted 10 this year. Of 10 plants only 4 of them are showing characteristic trumpet shaped squash right now, others are bearing fruit more akin to kabocha and/or zucchini. I have not harvested any of them yet. May be a new breed of squash taste better.

    Reply to Rocky's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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