Saving Tomato Seeds to Replant

Tips for saving tomato seeds for next year's garden

By: Sandy Feather 2014
Penn State Extension

Q. Is there anything special I need to do to save seeds from my tomatoes? I planted several heirloom varieties this year and would like to try saving my own seeds.

A. Be sure the tomatoes you want to save seed from are open-pollinated varieties, rather than hybrids. Seed saved from hybrids may produce plants and fruit that are not the same as the parent plant, and you may be disappointed in the quality of the fruit. Saving seed from tomatoes is not just a matter of harvesting the seeds and letting them dry, but it is not difficult.

Next years tomato seeds

Extracting Tomato Seeds

The gel inside the tomato that holds the seeds contains growth inhibitors that keep them from germinating inside the fruit. This must be fermented off before storing the seed for winter.


Simply harvest fruit from the desired plants when it is ripe. Cut the fruit and squeeze the pulp into a container. Add a little water and allow it to stand at room temperature for two to four days. Stir the pulp occasionally. When the seeds settle out, pour off the liquid. Spread the seeds on a paper towel in a single layer and allow them to dry thoroughly.

How to Overwinter Tomato Seeds

It is important that seeds are stored under cool, dry conditions. Place the seeds in an envelope marked with the variety. Then place the envelopes in an airtight container.

The little packets of silica gel that are packed with electronic equipment, shoes, etc. can be saved and placed in the container with the seed packages to absorb any excess moisture. Store the container(s) in your refrigerator until you are ready to plant the seeds.


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