Organic Gardening, Sept/Oct 1992
Save Some Seeds For Next Season
by Suzanne Ashworth
Seeds of tomatoes, peppers, melons and winter squash are ready for saving when the fruits are ripe and ready to eat. Peppers are the easiest. The seeds are mature after the peppers have changed color to their final stage of ripeness. Cut the peppers open, scrape the seeds onto a plate, eat the pepper and let the seeds dry in a non-humid, shaded place, testing them occasionally until they break rather than bend. What could be simpler? (Note: Dry all your "wet" seeds on a glass or ceramic plate. Spread the seeds evenly over the surface of the plate and stir twice daily to ensure even drying and to keep them from clumping together. Do not dry seeds on paper plates or paper towels - they'll stick like glue. And do not dry them in a warm oven or any place the temperature exceeds 95° F. A food dehydrator with an accurate thermometer set at 85° F works well.)
Muskmelons, watermelons and winter squash? Super easy to handle at seed-saving time. Cut muskmelons open, scoop the seeds into a strainer, rinse and set out to dry. Watermelons are almost as easy. After finishing off the tasty flesh, put the seeds (spitting contests optional) in a strainer and add a drop of dish washing liquid to remove any sugar and saliva left on the seeds. Mix, rinse and dry. Winter squashes need to be carefully cut to expose the seed cavity. Do not cut straight through the center of the squash - you'll cut through some seeds, too. Just stick the knife in as far as necessary to cut through the flesh and move it around the circumference. (Be careful - some squashes will fight back!) Pull the seeds from the fibers, rinse and dry. And don't cut a squash before you're ready to eat it - seeds can be saved from most winter squashes many months after harvest (although a few long-storage varieties may have sprouted seeds inside after six months or so).