How to save tomato seeds

  • When you save seed from your best-performing plants grown with your own cultural conditions, you gradually develop varieties that are better adapted to your soil, climate and growing practices. By carefully observing your plants, you can save seed from the ones that best meet your needs for germination, ripening time, yield, flavour, storage qualities, disease resistance and so on.
  • We ferment tomato seeds when saving them because the yeast removes diseases like blight that could affect the next crop.
  • Choose your best and ripest tomatoes, slice them open and scrape as many seeds as possible into a glass jar.
  • Cherry tomatoes are full of seeds, the large meaty ones have more flesh and less seeds.
  • Rob gathers around 100 seeds from two big Beefsteak tomatoes. He’ll probably lose 20 per cent of that when he scrapes off the fermented top, but 80 seeds is more than you’ll personally need.
  • Now add water to the seeds in the jar.
  • Don’t put the lid of the jar back on because gases will form inside and need to escape. Instead, place a piece of tinfoil, to allow air in, loosely over the jar.
  • Leave the jar in a warm spot for 3-4 days.
  • When you have a nice smelly layer of fermentation in the jar, it’s time for the next stage.
  • Carefully spoon off the fermented layer. Pour remaining matter into a sieve and wash gently. The pulp should all wash away.
  • Lay out one sheet of kitchen towel. If you like, you can spoon the seeds into 3 lines on the paper – this way, next spring, you simply lay the paper and seeds onto a soil-filled seed tray and not have to handle the seeds again before germination.
  • Leave the seeds to dry for about a week in a place that’s out of the full sun.
  • Once dry, label the piece of paper, fold up and put in a zip lock bag and label the bag, and pop in the fridge.
  • These seeds will last up to 5 years.

Camera: Jarod Murray
Editor: Thomas Asche
Production equipment and post-production services provided by The Black Forest Breathes