The Violet Fern

A Colorful Tale of a Garden in the Making

Project: Saving Heirloom Tomato Seeds

4 Comments

On a return trip from Rochester, I fell in love with this beautiful, large tomato at an organic farm stand. It was huge – at least 5″ inches in diameter and felt like a baseball in my hand. I had to have it. The woman who owns the farm said I could save the seed. Yes, I had to save the seed and grow these in my garden next year! When we arrived home, I put it on this cute little plate and admired it for days – maybe a few too many days.

It is a German Striped Tomato, heirloom. Because it was love and meant to be, I then came across an article in Dave’s Garden newsletter on how to save heirloom tomato seeds. The author made it sound so easy that I said, “Hey, I can do this!” And you can, too. The best part about saving the seed is that you can still eat the tomato – and delicious it was. (I sliced it up and ate it on some sprouted bread with homemade cream cheese and a dash of salt and pepper.)

The first thing to do is to scoop out the seeds, along with the gel, into a jar.

Then add some water, about 1/2 cup. Store somewhere where the smell does not offend you, because it will smell. In about a week, a whitish/gray mold will form over the top. This is what you want. You are fermenting the seeds to weed out the bad and discourage disease. (According to the article I read, if you are trading tomato seed it is proper etiquette to ferment your seeds.) If you have a weak stomach, don’t look below. Eeeewwww!

Now, carefully scrape off the moldy film. I used a little spoon. Add a little water to the jar and stir. Good seeds sink. Bad seeds and any remaining pulpy gel will float. Keep stirring and carefully pouring off the water until all you have left is clean seed. Then strain the seed through a coffee filter or other material, and spread them out to let dry for a full day or two.
The seeds are now ready to store. I store my seeds in a little box.
I cannot wait to plant these in my garden. Hopefully, I’ve done this right and I will be slicing up baseball-sized German Striped Tomatoes next summer! I should also be able to save more seed and share.
If you cannot get your hands on a German Striped Tomato, but would like to grow them in your garden next season, Johnny’s offers the seed.
Source: Dave’s Garden Saving Heirloom Tomato Seeds by Paul Rodman
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Author: Kathy Sturr

Author of the Violet Fern blog, artist, and master gardener.

4 thoughts on “Project: Saving Heirloom Tomato Seeds

  1. Wow I had not gotten around to researching how to do this and here was your post. Wonderful…I will try this with some of my veggies in the future and look for this yummy one at Johnnie's. One of my goals is to work more with seed; growing from seed, saving seed etc.

  2. Just curious, are the seeds happy in ziplock plastic. Thought they needed paper to breathe?

  3. Donna, I recommend book: The Complete Guide to Saving Seeds by Robert E. Gough. I picked it for the library but now want to own a copy for myself! Elephant's Eye: I suppose paper would be better and I hate plastic more and more everyday, but we had a lot of these little bags from the shop and I thought I would put them to good use. I've used them for years … seeds have always come up for me, but I do make sure they are dried before I store. I know people who store seeds successfully in covered glass jars as well. Some people even store seeds on display in beautiful wooden cases. That would be my choice.

  4. that tomato looks so delish – but I always think it would be hard to support such heavy fruit? The seed method you show is fascinating, I had no idea about this process. Tomatos are amazing, aren't they – I don't know any other fruit I think that is so varied in size and colour.

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