I remember an old friend of our family who, every time he ate an especially yummy tomato, would squeeze out a few seeds into a bowl to save for next year. In the spring, he had a bowl of "who-knows-what-kind" of tomato seeds to plant.
I enjoy trying new things and this year, just for fun, I decided to save some of my own tomato seeds to plant next year. But I chose to be a little more deliberate about my seed saving than our friend.
First I chose a lovely Amish Paste tomato from the garden.
Amish Paste is an open-pollinated (sometimes called an heirloom) tomato. This means that it is not a hybrid. A hybrid is created by crossing to different parent plants to make seed for a new hybrid variety. Seeds saved from a hybrid tomato will not produce tomatoes like the tomato they were taken from so choose an open-pollinated tomato.
Tomato flowers will generally fertilize themselves so even if you grow several kinds of tomatoes, you should have pure seed. It is possible, especially for larger flowering varieties, to cross pollinate and make their own hybrid, but from what I've read, it is not likely.
Choose a tomato that has the characteristics that you want. I chose a tomato from a plant that had been slow to catch blight, in hopes that it has some genetic resistance to blight. You might choose your earliest, tastiest, largest, healthiest, or other characteristic that you wish to select for next year.
You will still get to eat the tomato, so it is not a sacrifice to choose the best.
Cut open the tomato and squeeze some seeds into a jar. If you have several varieties of tomatoes, be sure to label each jar.
At this point I chose to ferment the tomato seeds. This is not absolutely necessary but it helps the tomato seeds to separate from the gel and can help get rid of the bad seeds.
Make sure the seeds are covered with liquid. If the tomato did not have enough juice, just add a little water to the jar.
Set the jar in a dark place for 3 to 5 days.
The seeds will probably grow a layer of mold on top. That is normal. Just remove the mold and add some more water and stir. Wait a few minutes. The good seeds should sink. Carefully pour off the water and the bad seeds and bits of pulp.
I used a sieve to help pour off the remaining water.
I rinsed the seeds until none of the pulp remained.
Then place the seeds on a paper plate or piece of newspaper. Don't use a paper towel because the seeds will stick and be nearly impossible to remove. But don't use a plastic or glass plate as you want the water to be absorbed.
Let the seeds completely dry for a day or two. Then place the seeds in an airtight container or bag. Tomato seeds will last for years at room temperature and will last even longer if kept in the refrigerator or freezer - as long as they are kept completely dry.
Next spring, I'll let you know how these seeds grow.
Have you ever saved tomato seeds?