When new gardeners begin thinking about saving vegetable seeds
for the future, the tomato is one of the first plants that comes to mind. Tomatoes
are easy to grow anywhere, and their seeds have a special process for saving.
Many vegetables have seeds that can just be collected and dried. Tomato seeds require a couple extra steps.
Begin by scooping seeds from a tomato into a clean bowl. Be sure to choose a tomato variety that you know is not hybrid
. Grocery store tomatoes are often hybrids and their seeds (surprisingly) produce small grape or cherry tomatoes.
If the seeds are not suspended in juice from the tomato, add some warm water to help separate the seeds and pulp. Cover the bowl with a piece of cheesecloth and set the bowl in a warm location (like on top of the refrigerator) for two to four days to let the mixture ferment. (Yes, it will stink.)
The fermentation stage is done when there is a layer of mold on top of the liquid and bubbles begin breaking the surface. Do not move the dish until this point, but do not let the seeds continue to ferment past this point or they may germinate.
Add clean water to the bowl and mix. The good seeds will fall to the bottom of the dish. Drain away the excess water and strain the seeds into a colander, rinsing well. Dry the seeds on a paper plate (shaking daily so they do not stick). Once they are completely dry, store tomato seeds
in an airtight container in a cool location.