How to Save Your Tomato Seeds Successfully


How to prepare and store tomato seeds

It’s easy to save your own tomato seeds from one year to the next. Most tomatoes hold 100 or more seeds, so you only need a few fruits for seed saving. We’ll explain which kinds of tomatoes you can harvest seeds from and demonstrate how to prepare, dry and store your seeds.

Why Save Tomato Seeds

Tomato seeds are worth saving for many reasons. You’ll cut your seed bill. You’ll create tomatos perfectly suited to your growing conditions for better harvest success in the future. And growing heritage or heirloom tomatoes helps preserve this fantastic diversity of fruit for future generations.

Note: Seeds from F1 “hybrid” varieties won’t come true to type, so only save those from traditional, open-pollinated tomatoes, sometimes called heirloom or heritage varieties.

Collecting Tomato Seeds

Collect your seeds from fully ripe fruits. Cut the tomato open then scoop out the fleshy pulp containing the seeds into a glass jar. Smaller tomatoes can just be burst and squeezed out. Top up with a little water and label the jar with the variety.

Removing the Gel

The gel surrounding the seeds inhibits germination and must be removed. Leave for two to five days to begin fermenting. This will break down the seed coat while killing off many of the harmful bacteria and fungi lurking on the seeds.

Cleaning Tomato Seeds

Check and gently swirl the jar every day. The seeds are ready for cleaning when the pulp floats to the top. A surface layer of scum may also develop, while most of the seeds will have sunk to the bottom. Carefully skim off the pulp then tip the liquid and seeds into a strainer. Wash the seeds under running water, using the back of a wooden spoon to carefully remove any remaining material stuck to the seeds.

Drying Tomato Seeds

Spread the seeds onto paper towel to remove most of the water, then transfer them to a non-stick surface such as a dinner plate. Dry the seeds in a warm place out of direct sunlight. It will take two to three weeks for the seeds to completely dry out.

Storing Tomato Seeds

Gently scrape the seeds into labeled paper envelopes. Store them in a dry place at a cool, steady temperature. You could store envelopes in a tin or other sealed container, together with silica gel crystals to keep the air dry. Seeds can store for up to five years.

Saving your own tomato seeds really doesn’t take much effort and there’s something deeply satisfying about the whole process. What other vegetable seeds do you save? Pop a few lines in the comments section below and tell us.

Learn more about saving seeds here.

About The Author

Tim Goodwin

Tim Goodwin, the associate editor for The Old Farmer's Almanac, has been reading North America's oldest continuously published periodical since he was a young child, growing up just a short drive from the OFA office. Read More from Tim Goodwin

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Faye Bancroft (not verified)

6 years 11 months ago

I just emptied a potato raised bed,wonder what i can plant in a northern michigan climate?

Please see our planting calendar which will show you year-round planting dates for common crops based on your zip code: https://www.almanac.com/gardening/planting-dates

Fred B (not verified)

8 years 8 months ago

Can you save the seed from the tomato that you purchased from the grocery store?

If the tomato is an heirloom variety, you can save the seeds. However, most grocery store tomatoes are “hybrids” and not suitable for seed saving. The best bet is to find a farmers’ market or a friend who is a gardener or even a seed-swapping forum. Hope this answers your question.