For three days I left the seeds to ferment, waiting for the seeds to separate off from the gunk and float to the bottom of the jar if good or to the top if bad. The instructions from the Real Seeds Catalogue page were very specific on the amount of time the seeds were to be left in the water: 3 days – no more no less. Another source reckoned that by now a horrible scum would have formed on top and that this needed to be carefully scooped off and disposed off. Well my seeds didn’t have any scum and all the seeds had pretty much sunk to the bottom of the jar, so I was not entirely sure that this stage of the seed saving had worked but I decided to carry on to the next stage anyway. I will be saving seeds from another outdoor grown tomato and it will be interesting to see if the reaction is any different.
So with the three day fermenting period over with the next step was to carefully drain the water, together with the red flesh that had been attached to some of the seeds but had in fact separated off, and then tip the seeds into a sieve. The seeds were then carefully rinsed under the cold tap, for a few minutes to ensure that they were as clean as possible but once all the remaining detritus had been rinsed away, I noticed that each seed still had a small protective jellylike cover over them. My reading of the fermenting process had led me to suppose that the fermentation process would have removed all such coatings from the seeds, leaving them bare and clean.
Well there was nothing I could do about it now and I know people who have simply scooped seeds out of shop bought tomatoes, jelly and all, and left them to dry out on a saucer or plate and so I don’t believe the jelly will cause an issue so long as the seed is viable to start with.
I tipped the seeds onto a clean saucer and left them on the kitchen windowsill to dry out, gently stirring them with my finger every now and again to stop them from sticking to the saucer and each other. It only took between 4 and 5 days for the jelly to dry up and I have now been left with a mound of dried out little seeds. I know it will be a little while before the seeds have dried out completely and so I will leave them where they are for now, with some pea and bean seeds for company. In a few weeks time I will transfer the seeds into a seed envelope to keep them dry, ready for use next season.
In the mean time, I have spotted a perfectly formed tomato on one of the outside plants which will make for a perfect seed donor once it has fully ripened and I will be repeating this whole process then. It will be interesting to see if the fermentation process creates the same end product and in any case, only time will tell if any of the seed I have saved will prove viable.