How to Save Seeds From Mature Vegetables


Once gardening gets into your blood, the idea of saving seeds to replant for the next season seems like a reasonable proposition. However, the process is not always as easy as it might appear and cannot always be done by using mature vegetables. Saving seeds from some vegetables requires you to plant your crop in certain ways to prevent cross pollination or to wait multiple years for success. Luckily, growing some vegetables from the seeds of mature plants is a fairly easy process. Experts at the International Seed Saving Institute recommend that beginners start with beans, peas, peppers or tomatoes.

Saving Seeds from Beans and Peas

Step 1

Pick pods off plants after they have dried and turned brown. This will occur anywhere from four to six weeks after the pods mature and would have been ready for picking and eating.

Step 2

Open the pods by hand to remove the seeds. If any seeds are not completely dry, spread them out indoors until they are completely dry.

Step 3

Store the seeds in paper envelopes that you have marked for each vegetable and keep them in a dry location until planting.

Saving Seeds from Peppers

Step 1

Pick peppers when fully ripe. Both sweet peppers and hot peppers are ripe when the skin turns red.

Step 2

Cut the pepper and manually remove the seeds from the core.

Step 3

Spread out the seeds on paper to dry. The seeds will be thoroughly dry when you can break one when bending it.

Step 4

Store the seeds in a marked paper envelope until planting.

Saving Seeds from Tomatoes

Step 1

Pick tomatoes when thoroughly ripe and red.

Step 2

Cut the tomato in half horizontally.

Step 3

Remove the seeds and the jelly from the center of the fruit and place into a jar with 1/4 cup water.

Step 4

Cover the jar loosely with a paper towel and place at room temperature for three days. Stir the mixture once daily.

Step 5

Separate the seeds from the jelly after three days. Fill the jar with tepid water and pour out the jelly and light-weight, immature seeds while letting the heavier, mature seeds settle at the bottom of the jar. Repeat this step until all the jelly and immature seeds have been drained and the mature seeds remain at the bottom of the jar.

Step 6

Strain water from the remaining seeds by pouring them through a fine sieve onto a paper towel or paper.

Step 7

Dry the seeds on a paper towel or plain paper for two days.

Step 8

Gently break apart any seed clumps and place in a marked paper envelope.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't be alarmed to see a layer of fungus growing in your tomato jars. The fungus is natural and serves a beneficial purpose in breaking down the tomato jelly and providing antibodies to prevent tomato diseases.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper or paper towels
  • Small jar
  • Knife
  • Sieve
  • Pen
  • Paper envelopes


  • International Seed Saving Institute: saving seeds, seed-saving education and permaculture: Beginner
  • International Seed Saving Institute: saving seeds, seed-saving education and permaculture: Basic Seed Saving
Keywords: saving seeds, mature vegetable seeds, drying seeds

About this Author

A freelance writer with an extensive career in education, Susan Lundman taught writing and communication at the Military Academy at West Point, at military bases overseas and at community colleges in the United States. Working in a non-profit agency for 20 years, she wrote grant requests, promotional material, and operating guides. Lundman's expertise includes backpacking, dance, gardening and healthy living.