Saving Tomato Seeds – How To Save Heirloom Tomato Seeds For Next Year!

If you are tired of paying top dollar for tomato transplants each and every spring, then this is the year to start saving tomato seeds from your garden!

Saving seeds is not only easy and fun, but a great way to save on your gardening budget.

Saving Tomato Seeds – The Basics

saving vegetable seeds
Select the best tomatoes for saving seed.

When it comes to saving seeds from tomatoes, there are some varieties that work, and some that won’t.

Open-pollinated tomatoes, or heirloom tomatoes as they are often called, are the only varieties that can be saved from year to year. With heirloom varieties, what you save is what you will get the following year.

Hybrid tomatoes, on the other hand, do not work in the same way. Hybrids are a cross of two or more tomato plants. They are bred to create a unique and new tomato plant and tomato. The seeds from a hybrid tomato will not replicate the hybrid when re-planted. Instead, they revert back to one of the original tomato plants crossed, or a mutation of it.

It often results in a plant that will not bear fruit, or creates a completely different tomato all together. Not a good thing when you need to know what you are growing in the garden!

The “How To” Of Saving Tomato Seeds

The tomato seed-saving process is unique when compared to saving seeds from other vegetables. Tomato seeds have a gelatinous coating on their outer skin. This coating, if left in tact, makes it very difficult for the seed to germinate the following year.

If a tomato plant were to grow uninterrupted in the wild, its fruit would ripen and then fall to the ground. In doing so, it would eventually rot and decompose. This process of rotting is what breaks down the gelatinous outer coat of the seed. Once removed, it allows for easy germination.

So when it comes to saving seeds, following nature’s lead is your best bet for success.

Saving Seeds – The Process

saving tomato seeds
When a tomato begins to decompose, it breaks down the protective outer coating of the seeds.

When saving tomato seeds, begin by selecting a healthy, ripe tomato from your best plant. Whether saving seeds from a tomato, a pepper, or any vegetable, you’ll want to save seeds from the healthiest vegetable on the best-looking plant.

By selecting from the best stock, you are ensuring the best chance for good growth, health and success. It all comes down to good genetic.

By selecting the best tomatoes, it strengthens the odds for the good genes to be passed on.

Next, cut the tomato in half and scoop out the pulp and seeds into a clean mason jar. There is no need to add any water or a lid.

Place the jar in a warm, humid location that is a bit out-of-the-way of everyday traffic. The goal here is to let the tomato rot a few days, and there is nothing like the smell of a rotting tomato to awaken the senses.


In a few days, the tomato will begin to decompose. Usually, within 3 to 5 days, the pulp will be encased in white or green fuzzy mold. It can take a bit longer in some instances. Once the tomato has become engulfed in mold, it is time to get to work.

Begin by pouring water into the jar and wash off the mold, – repeating the process a few time to get the seeds clean. The good seeds will sink to the bottom, allowing you to skim off the pulp and bad seeds.

After washing, lay seeds out on a paper towel or newspaper to dry for a few days. It is very important to let seeds dry completely before storing.

To store, put the seeds in a sealed plastic baggie, or mason jar with a covered lid. Store seeds in a cool, dry and dark place. If you have room, a refrigerator makes an excellent storage location for seeds.

All that is left is to start your seeds next spring! For more on seed and transplanting, check out our article : Hardening Off Vegetable Transplants

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