How to Preserve Seeds from Bell Peppers

Two Parts:Harvesting the seedsPreserving the seeds

If you're a keen gardener and you'd like to keep the heritage of your bell pepper (Capsicum spp.) crop, you can do this by preserving the seeds. You'll need to select the healthiest plants, check that the seeds are viable and store them properly. Each of these elements is explained in the following steps.

Part 1
Harvesting the seeds

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    Choose healthy plants to source the seeds from. You'll want to pass on the best possible traits for the next bell pepper crop, so only select the plants that are growing well and are in good health.
    • Signs of a healthy plant include good growth; ability to cope with hot, cold, wet and cool climates; well-formed fruits; uniform growth; supple branches; thick walls on the fruits; good flavor.[1]
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    Select the seeds from the first fruits produced on the bell pepper (capsicum) plant. The reason for this is that the germination rate for seeds from later fruits drops to around 60 percent.[1]
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    Harvest the seeds from ripe fruits only. This is when the seeds are ready. The bell pepper is ripe when it has changed from green to red or yellow or from light yellow to dark yellow or orange.[1] The seeds will appear a golden yellow color; if they are still white, then they're not ready for preserving.
    • If the fruit has dried on the stalk, the seeds can be harvested from this too.

Part 2
Preserving the seeds

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    Remove the seeds from the flesh of the fruit. Do this either using your fingers to run along the flesh and pull the seeds away or by scooping them out with a small spoon.
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    Sort out any flesh or other matter than isn't seeds. Place already removed seeds on a plate or tray as you work on removing more seeds from the flesh.
    • You will likely get around 200 seeds per bell pepper.[1]
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    Check which seeds will germinate and which won't. There is a simple test using water that will enable you to remove the seeds that probably won't germinate:[1]
    • Place all of the seeds into a small container filled with water.
    • The seeds that won't germinate (non-viable) will float to the top. The seeds left at the bottom will likely germinate.
    • Pour the non-viable seeds off, carefully keeping the viable ones at the base of the container.
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    Dry the viable bell pepper seeds. Spread the seeds out onto a suitable surface for drying. A screen or mesh make ideal drying surfaces, as the air can flow both sides of the seed. Put the drying seeds somewhere warm, such as in the sun or on a sunny windowsill.
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    Dry well. You can check when the seeds are properly dry by breaking one or two open. If the seed makes a cracking sound when broken open, it is sufficiently dried.[1]
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    Transfer the seeds to storage. Place in an airtight bag and store in a cook, dark place. Label the bag so that you remember when the seeds were harvested.
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    Plant the harvested seeds next growing season. Repeat the process of saving the seeds for each consecutive crop, always focusing on the healthiest plants.

Tips

  • This same method can be used for hot peppers but wear gloves when removing the seeds and be careful to avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with the gloved hands.
  • Pepper seeds sometimes take a few weeks to germinate so be patient.

Sources and Citations

  1. 1.01.11.21.31.41.5Andrea Heistinger, The Manual of Seed Saving
  • Andrea Heistinger, The Manual of Seed Saving, (2010), ISBN 978-1-60469-382-9 – research source

Article Info

Categories: Growing Vegetables