I'm sure you remember how freaking excited I've been about my Brandywine Tomatoes- they are an heirloom variety whose lineage can be traced back to the 1800s thanks to frontier American farmers and the Seed Savers Exchange. I'm continuing this rich history by saving my Brandywine Tomato seeds to plant next year!
Saving tomato seeds requires more work than just pulling them out of your tomatoes and putting them in a bag until Spring. It has been a 4-day process that included some SERIOUS mold!
How to Save Your Tomato Seeds
ONE: Collect Your Supplies
All you need is a cutting board, a knife, a small bowl or cup, some cheesecloth or papertowl, and of course, a tomato! You want to save seeds from your strongest, healthiest tomatoes and plants. Plants are just like people in that the baby resembles the parents. So, the seeds from a strong parent plant are most likely to hold the genetics for a strong baby plant.
TWO: Cut 'Em Up and Squish 'Em Out
I know you have never seen a tomato as beautiful as my Brandywine here. I will give you a minute to close your gaping mouth...
So, just cut open your tomato and pull out all the squishies. "Squishies" is a technical term for the seeds and gooey membrane between the tomato meat. Put the seeds AND membrane in the small bowl, and then save the tomato to cook for dinner!
THREE: Cover & Wait
Cover the bowl with something airy like cheesecloth or a papertowel, not saran wrap. I added a rubberband around the cheesecloth to keep out the fruit flies I've been battling lately. Put the bowl in your windowsill for 4 days. The windowsill in which you place your seeds must have good plant-karma so the seeds will soak up happiness and joy and beauty and love while they're drying.
FOUR: Woohoo, Mold!
After a few days, if you peek into the bowl you'll start to see mold growing! This is a GOOD thing. Tomato seeds have a tough protective casing, and they need a little help coming out of their shells (like shy people!). When mold grows naturally on the seeds, it actually eats holes in the casing, making it easier for the seeds to germinate next fall.
On the fourth day, uncover the bowl and you should see something like this (above).
FIVE: Eww, Mold...
The seeds we need are actually hiding under this mold cover. To get to them, put some warm water in the bowl and wait a minute or two. Once it is wet, the mold cover will slide right off. There will be seeds stuck in the mold, so keep carefully rinsing to loosen the seeds from the mold film. Continue to rinse until you have independent seeds.
As you continue rinsing, pour the seeds into a fine mesh strainer to remove all squishies and mold. You can see there are still seeds stuck to the mold above- keep rinsing out the bowl!
This is the product of all that seed rinsing!
Put your seeds on a napkin to dry completely. As soon as they're dry, collect the seeds in a container, label them so you don't forget, and stick them in your fridge until spring.