How to Harvest Tomato Seeds Now for Free Tomato Plants Later

It’s that time of year again when chilly autumn nights reign & the threat of frost starts to loom. I’m always a bit relieved when cooler temperatures arrive since that means I don’t have to water my garden as often. However, it also means that most of my plants will soon fade off into the sunset. Tomatoes & basil are usually the first of my plants to not survive cool nighttime temperatures. As of right now, all but one of my tomato plants have died off & my basil is kaput. I harvested all of the tomatoes that were still on the dead plants & brought them inside to ripen. Normally, this would be the end of my tomato gardening tasks, but since this is the year of seeds for me, I decided to save some seeds from this year’s tomatoes to grow next year. How did I do it? Keep on reading for my harvesting tomato seeds tutorial.

black brandywine tomato picture
Look at all of the seeds!


  • Tomatoes
  • Knife
  • Spoon
  • Bowl
  • Water
  • Paper towels


  1. Cut tomatoes in half & scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Place the seeds in a bowl.
  2. Rinse the seeds with water a few times.
  3. Spoon out a few seeds at a time & place on a paper towel. Top with another paper towel & gently rub off the pulp by massaging the seeds between the two paper towels. Make sure to remove all of the pulp.
  4. Put dry tomato seeds on a new paper towel to dry completely. Set aside for a few days.
  5. Place seeds in an envelope. Label the envelope with the variety of tomato seeds & the date when you stored them. Store in a cool & dry place until they are ready to be planted in the spring.
harvesting san marzano tomato seeds picture
San Marzano seeds are over here looking like straight gold to me.


  • Choose seeds from healthy tomatoes. This gives you a better chance for healthy seeds.
  • Any leftover tomato pulp might make the seeds rot, so make sure to remove them completely.
sun sugar tomato seed harvesting picture
Teeny tiny Sun Sugar tomato with a knife for scale.

I was able to harvest seeds from a few of my Sun Sugar (these are my favorite tomatoes of all-time, check out my review), San Marzano & Black Brandywine tomatoes. I also still have a few Brandywine seeds left from this spring that I’ll try to plant again next year. Like I said in my latest Tomato Wars article where I compared starting tomato seeds four different ways, I didn’t have the best of luck growing tomatoes from seeds this year. But that’s not going to stop me from continuing to start tomatoes from seed. I am super excited to try to grow tomatoes from seeds that I saved myself. Growing plants from seeds that you saved yourself from previous plants just seems like straight-up magic to me. 

harvesting tomato seeds image
All of the tomato seeds that I harvested for the day.

Not having to buy a bunch of seeds or tomato plants is also a huge motivating factor for me in regard to seed-saving. Gardening can be such a pricey hobby, so I’m always on the lookout for budget-friendly ways to garden. My goal is to one day grow most of my veggies & annual flowers from seeds that I saved myself. I have had a lot of luck growing flowers from seeds this year, so I’ve been saving up a flower seed storm (check out my marigold seed saving article). Now, I don’t plan on growing entirely from saved seeds, because I know some new veggies & flowers will always catch my eye. But, it would be so nice to have the bulk of my seasonal gardening essentially be started for free. Nice for me & for my pocketbook.

water bath tomato seed picture
The seeds in their little water bath.

Well, what are you waiting for? Gardening season is quickly coming to a close & those tomatoes of yours aren’t going to keep on popping up for much longer. Harvest a few tomato seeds of your own & save them for next year. Future you will thank present day you! Happy gardening, everyone!

harvested tomato seed picture
I never thought that my chicken scratch hand writing would make an appearance on this website, yet here we are.

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