Saving your heirloom tomato seeds to plant next year saves you a little money, but the big payoff is the satisfaction of knowing exactly the type of tomatoes you’ll harvest. Once you learn the technique, you’ll never have to worry about the availability of your favorite heirlooms again. Saving seeds from year to year is only practical for heirloom or open-pollinating tomato types. Hybrids may produce tomatoes that don’t look or taste like the originals.
1.Slice open a fully ripe heirloom tomato, and scoop the seeds and surrounding gel into a container. Add water until the container is nearly half full.
2.Set the container aside, and allow the contents to ferment for three to five days. Do not place a lid on the container. Swirl or stir the contents twice a day. As the mixture ferments, the bad seeds and gel float to the top, while the good seeds sink to the bottom.
3.Skim off the mold and debris from the top. Pour the remaining contents of the container through a strainer to separate the seeds from the liquid.
4.Spread the seeds on paper in a single layer to dry. Drying takes about three days.
5.Label an envelope with the type of tomato and the date. Pour the seeds into the envelope, and place the envelope in a dry container with a tight-fitting lid.
6.Wrap 1 to 2 tbsp. of powdered milk in a tissue, and place it in the container. The milk acts as a desiccant, absorbing any moisture that gets inside the container.
7.Place the lid on the container, and keep it in the refrigerator.