Friday, August 21, 2015

Collecting and Saving Teeny Yellow Tomato Seeds

Today we have teeny yellow (and red) tomatoes coming out our yin-yan.

I am joyful with such abundance during a year of drought, and grateful for the friends who passed the wonderful little yellow tomato starter plants on to us (when we had opted not to grow tomatoes this year after a couple of bleak harvests).

These tomatoes were labeled "Tumblers".  My gardener-daughter-in-law was here earlier in the summer and exclaimed several times over how sweet and tasty the tiny yellow tomatoes were.. like candy.  Could she have some of the seed?

Soooo.... I am saving seeds... and with a method that will work for any other tiny tomato (grape, cherry, etc.).

HARVEST: For the best possible seed production, let your fruit ripen on the vine if at all possible (and you know that it happens quickly with these little tomatoes).  

If you want to ripen the little guys you save from the first frost, they WILL ripen, but slowly, and in a cool, dry location. Seeds will always be most viable if collected from fruits that have at least turned colour... and definitely MOST viable of all from a very ripe fruit.  (Of course, this is where you also get your very delicious flavour, from the vine-ripened tomato-- but try not to eat them all!  Save the Seeds!)

PROCESS: Working with little tomatoes is easy-peasy-- no arduous slicing and wasteful elimination of the flesh around the stem-- just slice them in half around their middle/equator.  

Gently squeeze or scoop out the seeds from the vertical cavitiesCareful work will give you the rest of the little gems to sun-dry (or dehydrate), add to a salad or other dishes, or just enjoy as they are! 
Put the gelatinous matter and seeds into a small jar.   If you use less than about a 1/2 of a 1/2-pint jar of seeds and jelly, then add a little water.  

Cover with something like a coffee filter held in place with a rubber band.  Put somewhere warm, around 65-70° F, 20C,  like the top of the fridge.

Leave the solution in a warm place for about 3 days, stirring daily.

A surprising black fungus mat will develop over the surface of the mixture after just a couple of days.  But the GOOD NEWS is that this nasty looking fungus is a super-bonus: not only does the fungus consume the jelly gook that coats each seed and stops  germination but it also forms antibiotics that interrupt production of seed-borne diseases (such as canker, bacterial spot, and speck.) 

Finally, about the fourth day, pour warm water up to the rim of the jar.  Allow  the contents to settle and pour off the slowlyPulp and immature seeds will float on the top, and exit with the water. The heavier 'viable seeds' will sink to the bottom of the jar and nestle together there.  
Viable seeds will sink to the bottom of the jar

Re-fill the jar with warm water and pour it off repetitively until you are satisfied that the seeds that line the bottom of the jar are the clean, viable seeds you are looking for.  

Tip the clean seeds into a fine strainer and let the last droplets of water drain 

Turn the strainer upside down over a paper towel or piece of newspaper. Let the seeds dry completely (takes a day or two).

Gently separate the clumps into individual seeds,  and store in a small envelope, plastic bag, or plastic pill container.  I read somewhere about someone's grandfather who unreeled a toilet tissue roll and let the seeds dry there, then rolled it back up again to have a ready made seed mat for planting. 


You can find this article on my Pinterest board for Tiny Tomatoes, along with a couple of dozen great recipes for Tiny Tomatoes... 
 and here is a favourite easy recipe for that abundance:
Oven-Fry Garlic Tiny Tomatoes: Pre-set oven to 350F. Mix tomato halves in bowl with Olive Oil, cracked Black Pepper, Minced Garlic, a little Celtic Sea Salt or Kosher Salt.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Use as a pasta sauce too!

Have a look HERE at 15 plants you can grow yourself cheap or free! 

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