How to Collect Tomato Seeds


Tomato seed collecting is a non-wasteful approach to sustenance, as many people allow tomato seeds to literally disappear down the drain. Saving seeds is both an economical and personal reward of built-in return on original seed investment costs. Seed-saver organizations have been especially prolific in the culling and saving of heirloom and non-hybrid varieties of tomatoes through the years, and with a few simple steps you may replicate their efforts at home.

Step 1

Scoop the gelatinous matter containing seeds from the tomatoes into a large bowl. The contents will be sitting in this bowl for a few days so it needs to be large enough and handy enough for you to move around, access and manipulate the contents easily.

Step 2

Add enough water to adequately cover the seed matter and leave the bowl in a room temperature environment for two to three days. John Jett, a West Virginia University Extension horticulturist notes that the gelatinous liquid in which the seeds float is designed to prevent internal sprouting; it therefore has to be removed for the seed to germinate. When mold forms on the top of the water- seed mixture, this signals fermentation has occurred, which is the reaction process that removes the gelatin.

Step 3

Remove the mold from the liquid's surface. Rinse, drain in a fine strainer and repeat until all seeds are free of the gelatinous coating. Spread the tomato seeds across a paper towel or screen and place in a room-temperature, non-windy area until completely dry.

Step 4

Place the dry seeds into an envelope to store for future use. Label the envelope with the date of seed storage and type of tomato. Store the seeds in a cool dry place to allow them an optimal chance to remain viable for producing healthy, prolific tomato crops in your future vegetable gardens.

Tips and Warnings

  • Use a very small-holed screen strainer during the straining and rinsing process to protect loss of seeds.

Things You'll Need

  • Fresh ripe tomatoes
  • Bowl
  • Fine screen strainer


  • West Virginia University Agricultural Extension: Seed Saving Tips

Who Can Help

  • The Seed Savers Exchange: Overview
Keywords: tomato seed collecting, saving tomato seeds, collecting tomato seeds

About this Author

Sheri Lacker has more than 30 years' experience as a writer, photographer and multimedia artist. Her work has been used by Warner Brothers, Barbour/Langley and Casey Kasem Presents, among others. Her awards include the Theatre Excellence Scholarship and Guest-Artist-in-Res. Lacker studied journalism, Web design and historical research at the University of Memphis.