How to Save Seeds from Peppers and Tomatoes
Recommended Seed Saving Books
Collecting and saving pepper seeds that you've grown is a great way to save money on gardening, but also a way to choose those varieties that have done exceptionally well in your area to reproduce again. A great garden one year will produce seeds for the next, free. All varieties of peppers, from mild bells to hot peppers, as well as tomatoes, can be collected the same way.
Tomatoes and peppers are an easy way to introduce yourself to saving seeds. Choose only those vegetable varieties that are not hybrids from two different varieties. While they may be specially formulated to resist certain garden spoilers, such as bugs or rot, or grown for a certain color or flavor, they usually give seeds that will not sprout for gardening. Non-hybrid varieties will ensure the seeds that sprout are the ones that were saved in the first place.
Heirloom types of tomatoes and peppers, old-fashioned types with sometimes a rainbow of colors and flavors, go in and out of fashion and can be hard to find from one year to the next. Saving the seeds can ensure the repeated growing of your favorite varieties. Saving seeds also ensures that the best performers in your garden have the ability to reproduce next year's harvest.
Here are some helpful tips before you begin to save seeds:
- Acceptable containers for saving seeds are small baby food jars, plastic storage containers, zipper baggies and envelopes with a tight seal. Anything that you can easily store away and keep moisture from.
- If you are concerned with the heat of hot peppers, wear gloves when cutting and removing the seeds from the fresh peppers.
Things you'll need:
- Non-hybrid varieties of tomato and pepper plants, mature and healthy growing
- Sifter/Strainer/Sieve for draining
- Paper towels
Place to air dry them, with little humidity
- Air-tight container for storage
Steps for Saving Pepper and Tomato Seeds:
In your garden, identify the pepper and tomato plants that are the healthiest. By doing this, you are choosing the tomatoes that are the strongest contenders for reproducing the best crop for the next year. Again, make sure your plants of choice are non-hybrid varieties. The same applies for sweet and hot chile peppers, and cherry and large tomatoes.
- Pick the peppers and tomatoes that are at their peak of ripeness. Make sure all are free from rot, insects, and are still on the stem. Do not pick those that are rotted, have disease, or are falling off from the stems onto the ground.
- For tomatoes: cut the skin off with a paring knife and remove the pulp from the sides. Carefully separate the seeds from the tomato pulp and the flesh, and rinse in a bowl of water. Let the seeds soak in a bowl of fresh water for about a day.
- For the peppers: cut the tops and bottoms off of the peppers and carefully slice at the ribs to
separate them from the walls of the peppers. Separate the seeds from the pulp and rinse off in a bowl of water. Set the seeds to soak in a clean bowl of water for about a day. If you're concerned, where gloves to avoid skin contact with the hot chile pepper seeds and flesh.
- Pour the bowl of water and seeds through a strainer or sieve, then remove any pulp that still remain with the seeds, if any. Turn the sieve upside down and tap the bottom to make sure all the seeds are removed to the paper toweling.
- Gently separate the seeds and place in dry, well ventilated area with very little humidity.
Test for seed dryness after about 7 days of drying. Take some of the tomato or pepper seeds and try to bend them. If they are pliable, they still have a bit of moisture and need additional time to dry. If they break or snap easily, they are dry and ready for storage.
- Collect all the properly dried seeds and place in an air-tight container. Label with name and variety of seed, and also when the seeds were collected and saved. The year and date will be important to note so you can see which harvest is which, if keeping seeds year after year. Keep in a dry, low humid area for storage.