I find it hard to do anything consistently year to year. I guess I like to monkey with routines, just to keep things interesting –slash–entertaining. There is a lot of repeated work done in the garden and the food preservation kitchen, and, true to form, I tend to monkey with that too. For the most part my manipulations have the stated aim of efficiency. I do tend to keep what works, admittedly. Other times, well, I am simply prone to tinker.
And this year, I am not waiting until fall to harvest my tomato seeds. NOPE! I am doing it now, as the tomatoes ripen. I pick the biggest and most ripe fruit, slice open the bottom, squish the pulp and seeds into a glass canning jar, add a tiny bit of water, put a label and a lid on it, and…wait for science to happen. [note: I tend to get two fruits, from two different plants, just to keep my genetics open.]
Granted, seeing moldering produce on one’s kitchen counter is not everyone’s cup of tea. In the general chaos that is my canning kitchen, however, this is not much of a hardship. I also have the advantage of being fully aware of how the seeds are doing: they are under my nose, after all, vying for space on the butcher block. Toward the end of the season, when I normally tackle this task, I am so fed up with tomatoes that saving their seeds is generally accompanied by my resentment of the things, with a lot of “never again” oaths thrown in. This does not work in the tomatoes’ favor, not at all. Now, well, now I have the fresh eyes and enthusiasms of a newbie!
So, after about a week, a nice blue-green mold will grace the surface layer of the watery seed pulp. Fungi Are Our Friends here, as they break down the slimy seed sack in which the seeds are floating. I take the moldy jars outside, dump the seeds into a very fine meshed colander and spray off all the goo with the hose. Then I take the seeds back indoors and let them dry a little bit. I spread them out individually onto a labeled white paper towel: they’ll stick to this, but I just cut a bit of the towel around the seed when it’s time to plant them. I let them dry fully, then I roll up the paper towel and store it in a jar in the basement with all the other seeds.