How To Save Tomato Seeds For Next Years Garden

Here’s a simple step by step guide with pictures how to save some of your tomato seeds.

This year I grew some Brandywine heirloom tomatoes. I believe they were the best tasting I’ve ever grown so far. They were ridiculously delicious!

So, I’m going to grow some more next year. Why give up a good thing? If it’s not broke – don’t fix it!

It’s really easy to save tomato seeds. Although you do have to follow just a few particular steps to successfully save those seeds so they grow again next year.

Choose a Good Looking Tomato

What is the best tomato for saving seeds? It’s smart to use an especially healthy and good looking tomato. Those seeds inside will be more likely to grow into your best plants. I picked a large, plump, yummy-looking mater.

Scoop Out The Tomato Seeds Goop

Cut the tomato and spoon out those seeds. You don’t need “tons” unless you’re going to grow “tons” of tomatoes! There are a LOT of seeds inside a given tomato.

Ferment In A Canning Jar

Or any container. Add some water to the jar. Dump in your seed goop. Let stand for 5 – 7 days, more or less… What you want happening is a fuzzy (kinda nasty) growth development in that jar. It took mine 7 days. Your environmental conditions (temp and humidity) will affect how long it takes.

Why do we need to do this? Because the process will enable you to get the goop (which surrounds the seeds) OFF. Otherwise these seeds may not sprout properly.

Here’s how it looked after seven days:

Dump the Nasty Fermented Seed Goop In Strainer

Simply dump it out into a strainer. Strain the seeds with water. I used cool water. It will help to gently brush around the seeds with your fingers to assist in Goop-be-Gone…

Dry Tomato Seeds on Paper Towel

Then dump the seeds onto a paper towel on a plate. Let it dry out for a few days. Some of the seeds were still stuck together afterwards, but I just picked at them to get it apart.

Store Seeds In An Envelope

Put the seeds into a paper envelop. Label and date. Done!!

Although it’s end of October as of this post, just for grins I planted a few of my seeds. I know that it’s really not going to work (winter is coming), but just for fun I’ll see what they do indoors. I do have some plant lights…

[ Read: Brandywine Tomatoes, Jalapeno’s, and New Ace Bell Pepper Bumper Crop ]

[ Read: Tomato Companion Plants ]


  1. I don’t even ferment mine. I put in a mesh sieve and gently rub off the gel under running water then rinse under non chlorinated water. Dry on a paper plate, pick them off and store. The farm down the road has a yellow heirloom named Mr. Stripey I saved seed doing this method, did a sprout test and had 100 percent sprout. Have saved seed with both methods. Either way works.

  2. I have some cherry tomatoes that are pretty good. I leave the drops in the garden and rototill in the fall. Then I rototill in the spring and plant my garden. The cherry tomatoes have come back 4 years so far. I can’t seem to get rid of them!

  3. This method was given to me last week so I have not personally tried it. But the lady who gave it to me says it worked for her:

    *Put an inch of potting soil in a Cool Whip (or similar) container.
    *Next lay on top of the soil, a thick slice of the tomato whose seeds you want to save.
    *Cover with another layer of potting soil an inch thick.
    *Do not cover container. Do not water or disturb.
    *Let set over winter.
    *In Feb. begin to water and cover container with a plastic bag.
    *Set at a window, keeping soil moist, until seedlings appear.
    **It will take awhile**
    *Then transplant as you normally would.

    I think it mimics a volunteer in a garden. I want to try this next year.

    1. i did that with a fresh tomato… got a good stand….in small space …would space out seeds next time. put daylight bulb close to sol raise it just out of reach of tops.

  4. I just keep a few seeds from every tomato I harvest. The “goop” is a germination inhibitor, designed to protect the seed from sprouting too early and dying in the cold. In nature it ferments off during the winter and early spring, so the seed can sprout at the correct time.

    I use the strainer method rather than letting them sit around for a week.

    1. Last winter I had some store bought tomatoes that were really dry. Two were on the kitchen counter for a few days. Then they went full on alien with sprouting seeds making worm-like tracks under the skin. A couple days later the tomatoes looked like little chia pets with tiny tomato plants poking out of the skin. I should have planted them and got a head start on the tomato season.

      1. AZOffgrud,
        This happened to me, also.
        I cut them, not noticing añything on the outside.
        I thought they were worms and did the girly freak out. My grandson got the màgnifying glass out and said it was plants.
        After we all laughed at Grandma, we had a little science lesson.

  5. Ken, your seeds will sprout just fine. The plants may be spindly without the sunlight, but if you’re careful you’ll have fully grown plants to put in the ground in the spring.

  6. I aways save my San Marzano paste tomato seeds. I like that these plants are prolific and do not seem to be bothered by worms and pests so much. They never stop producing!

  7. I just smear the goop on a napkin and dry in the dehydrator or in oven with pilot light.Just cut off a piece of napkin with a couple seeds and plant the seed with napkin.Works great and it doesnt get easier than that.

  8. I have let a few heirloom tomatoes rot in the soil in the fall and they came up the next spring when I lived in Pennsylvania.

    One year the cherry tomatoes got scattered so half my yard was tomato sprouts the following spring, so I cut them down to 1/4 of my yard. I did no effort to do anything for cultivating, letting them grounded and I had a bounty I had to give away half the summer. They did so well I found out when my dogs dug holes in the yard, I buried their poop and covered them up and they didn’t dig there anymore. The tomatoes grew crazy where those former holes were.

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