Last week, I decided it was time to gather some of my tomato seeds for next year. I'm growing a saucing type called Sheboygan, which I got from Uprising Organics. Sheboygan is a delicious tomato. When I taste it next to the other (hybrid) varieties I'm growing, it's a no-brainer--Seboygan is far and away the best. It's bright and sweet and tomatoey. It's what I was using when I made my tomato candy.
But it also has a few problems. The stem end isn't ripening with the rest of it, which means that only about 75-80% of each tomato is usable. The plants are really viney--probably closer to the natural state of tomatoes, but many varieties have been bred to be bushier, because they're easier to support. Sheboygan requires a lot of trellising. It's also an heirloom, which means that it's prone to cracking. And finally, the plants are lacking some vigor. They are yellowing and kind of sad looking, even as they pump out amazing tomatoes. So all in all, I love Sheboygan, but if I'm ever going to grow it as my primary tomato variety, it needs some work.
|Sheboygan in its greener days|
I took them home, cut each tomato in half, and squeezed the seeds into a bowl.
Then I left the bowl on the counter for a few days to ferment. Tomato seeds, as you've probably noted, are encased in a jelly-like sac. To save the seeds, you need to get them out of that sac, a step that is done by fermentation. I didn't take a picture of the bowl of seeds after they'd been fermenting for a few days, so I'll paint one for you. It was covered with a layer of whitish mold and a cloud of fruit flies, and it smelled terrible.
Luckily, it's easy to separate the good seeds from all that goop. I added some water to the bowl, stirred it around vigorously, then let things settle a bit. Good seeds sink, so after a moment, I poured the moldy water, hollow seeds, and fermented tomato gel off the top. I did this step several times, and before long I had a nice collection of wet but otherwise clean-looking seeds in the bowl, which I dumped onto a small plate.
Then it was just a matter stirring them around from time to time so they don't stick together, and waiting for the seeds to dry. It only took a couple of days.
|Voila! Tomato seeds!|