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How to Save Tomato Seeds

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Gardeners love to order seeds, and I am no exception. But over the past two years, since 2020, we’ve seen that seeds can sometimes be a scarce commodity, and that should waken us up to the fact that we need to develop our seed saving skills. Learning how to save tomato seeds is an easy way to begin your own seed bank, and I’ll walk you through the easy steps to do it.

Cut tomatoes with seeds shown

As I’ve tried to be more mindful of what I truly need, this has translated into using what I already have and trying to save the seed varieties I thoroughly enjoy. Seeds from my very own garden is a great start to being less wasteful and more self-sufficient. Saving tomato seeds is super quick and easy and a great way to get started with seed saving.

Why save garden seeds?

One of the more expensive parts of planting a garden each year can be buying seeds and plants. This can be especially true if you prefer heirloom varieties or organic seeds. But if you have a little patience and a spare jar, you can easily save your own seeds from a variety of plants. Just be sure you have a good system in place for organizing your seeds. (See my full post on seed organization.)

This year, I purchased two Jellybean tomato varieties from our local cooperative extension plant sale. They grew so well (are still growing in fact!) that I knew I wanted to save some seeds for replanting next year.

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I wasn’t 100% certain that these weren’t a hybrid, so do be aware of this as you begin saving seeds. Hybrid varieties will lose some of the qualities the original plant and fruit possessed as the the seed is saved and replanted. For guaranteed results, save seeds from heirloom plants if possible.

Seed Saving Supplies and Resources

The supplies for saving seeds at home is pretty simple, so don’t over think it. Most of these items you’ll have on hand in your day to day kitchen.

  • Ripe tomato (I used 2 since jellybean tomatoes are small)
  • Clear jar (jelly jar or baby food jar)
  • Water
  • Paper Towels
  • Envelope (or a cool, dry place to store your seeds)

For a deeper look into seed saving, try these resources:

Tomato Seed saving step-by-step

  1. Cut open the ripe tomato, and gently squeeze or scoop out the seeds and pulp into a clear jar. 
open tomato with seeds
cut tomato with seeds shown
  1. Add an inch of water above the seeds and pulp and place a lid on the jar. 
seeds and pulp
seeds and pulp in jar
  1. Over the course of two or three days, gently swirl the water in the jar several times a day. You will notice that the pulp releases from the seeds, and they settle to the bottom of the jar.
tomato seeds in water
seeds and water in jar
  1. Drain water out of jar, and spread seeds onto paper towel. Allow to dry completely. 
  2. Store in an envelope or baggie. (I use simple mail envelopes.) Don’t forget to label the envelope, so you know what’s inside. Keep seeds in a cool, dry place until you’re ready to plant your seeds in the spring!
seeds on towel
Saved tomato seeds drying on paper towels

And that’s all there is to it. Saving seeds was not a new concept to our grand parents and great grandparents, but it seems to be less common these days. Save those dollars you’d be spending on a new package of seeds and instead use what’s growing in your very own garden.

Have another way to save tomato seeds? Let us know in the comments below!

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