Personal Projects - Tomatoe seed collecting

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I recently decided to take a day, every fortnight,  to assign to my personal projects.  

Well, that idea went out the window, and the one day a fortnight turned into one day every now and then when I get the chance.  'So be it' I say.  We do what we can hey !! 

I'm becoming more and more obsessed with my garden and the produce I am growing.  It tastes so good.  Fresh food, grown by us, no chemicals not even any organic sprays.  It's humbling to actually grow food.  It helps me understand that if I ever purchase fruit and vegetables outside what I grow,  that I am getting them for virtually nothing.  $4 for a lettuce when it takes at least 5 weeks of growing and nurturing to get it to a harvestable point.

It can take 6 months to grow a fist of garlic and that is just the time it takes once you have prepared the soil and prepared the cloves for planting.  Since growing a lot of my own food I have not been able to take fruit and veggies for granted.  I just know how long it takes to grow a simple cucumber or bean.  I look at huge supermarket grown capsicums and think " I know that is not grown over time and with patience".  They are just too big to be real.  The sweetness has been bread out of them for size and transportation requirements.  The capsicums that I grow can be eaten like a crisp crunchy apple straight off my plants.  The joy of growing food is endless and the joy of eating it straight off the plant is hard to equal.  

It is my philosophy to just leave all the critters that attack my garden, yes I curse them on occasion, but I leave them to do their bidding.  The worst I can manage is to squish a snail (it goes straight back on the garden) and squish some aphids or rub off a caterpillar.

So far so good.  Sometimes it's heartbreaking to see a plant go down under the weight of aphids and cabbage moth butterflies but now the wasps are coming into my garden to even things out a bit.  The balance of nature always teaches me so much. If we kill the pests what will their predators eat.  

The project below is based around documenting how I collect the seed from my favourite tomato variety.  I have grown these old tomatoes in my garden for the last few years , ever since I found them at a local Farmers Market.  I still can't grow enough in my small space so I still buy them when in season at the Farmers Market as back ups.  

Well here it is.  A series of images that I will be using as part of my 'how to save tomatoe seed' project.  I hope you enjoy.

There are little notes under each image to tell you what you need to do.  Happy gardening and joyful eating.

Take one amazing tomato,  (the original brought over from Italy by a great grandfather around 50 years ago). Cut it in half so you can scoop out the middle section including pulp.  Any tomatoe you love the flavour of will do.

Look at the beauty and colour of this exquisite tomato.  Not to mention the seed count.  I love this tomato because it is so seedy and juicy and tastes so divine. I cannot tell you how much I miss it when the season ends.

Start scooping out the pulp and seeds and discard the skin.  Collect it in a container, bowl or jar.  I scoop mine into a bowl then transfer over to a mason jar.

The beautiful pulp and seeds in my little bowl.  All pulp and seeds connected at the moment and ready to be put into my mason jar to fester away for a few days.

Transfer to a jar and allow to sit at room temperature for a few days with the lid open so it can ferment.  This is the really important part.  It may attract flies but that's no problem.  This process happens in nature if the tomato is left to its own devices and the fermentation helps to remove chemicals in the pulp that inhibit germination.  It also helps to seperate the pulp from the seeds

Here it is fermenting away.  It looks so gorgeous at this point and almost like tomatoe and cheese topping on pizza.  I love this process.

Transfer the pulp to a sieve, one that is fine enough so you do not lose the seeds.

The pulp and seeds in the sieve ready to be separated.  

The Stunning pulp / seeds up close.  So lets get into it !!

Run the pulp and seeds under water and use your hands to squeeze the pulp, rub it around and break it down so it seperates completely from the seed.  I just rub it against the sieve and break down the pulp by squiching it into the mesh. i also squish it in my hands.  I capture all of this water in a tub so I can use it on my garden.

Get stuck right in and push the pulp through the sieve. It's fun.  Kids will love it, they love the muckiness of it.

The pulp will end up looking like tinned tamatoes, very sloshy.

Work most of the pulp out through the sieve.  You will be left with mainly skin and seeds.

This is the way I like it to look before I transfer it to a big bowl of water, usually a tub.  You can work more pulp out if you want.

Put this muck into a tub and fill with water.  The left image is of the seeds sinking to the bottom of a tub of water and the skin and remaining pulp floating around up the top.  I like to scoop out the  skin / pulp and remove it and put it in the compost.  I then pour the water carefully onto my garden, leaving the seeds at the bottom to then go back into a sieve to collect.

Left image is of the seeds at the bottom of my tub or water.  Image on the right are the seeds once poured into the sieve.

Strain the seed.

Turn the seed out onto a cloth or kitchen paper.  I use a cloth as I find the kitchen paper sticks to the seed and then the seed becomes difficult to remove.  It is also trickier to separate the seed when it's on kitchen paper. 

The seeds will end up in clumps.  Let the clumps dry a little and then go back to the clumps of seed and seperate them out.  Just with your fingers.  I usually rub between my fingers or lay my hand flat on the cloth after a day of drying and rub them apart.  

You will now be left with a lovely selection of seeds.  Just allow them to dry in a warm area for a couple of weeks then collect them up and lay them in a container without a lid or put them in a paper packet and label them.

Kylie Grinham