A: While many people opt for buying seeds or seedlings, there are a growing number of people who save seeds, especially when they have an exceptionally good crop that they’d like to repeat. To save tomato seeds, you should not harvest the tomatoes until fully ripe, but not rotten. Tomato seeds are encased in a gelatinous coating, but are separated from their coating by fermentation, which mimics the natural rotting process and has the added benefit of killing seed-borne diseases. To get at the seeds, slice the tomatoes and squeeze the seeds out into a bowl. Add water, and let this mixture stand for several days at room temperature in an out-of-the-way place, stirring occasionally. Mold will form on the surface. How quickly this mold will develop depends on the temperature; in a house at a temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit, three days should more than suffice.

The pulp and worthless seeds will rise to the surface, and can be skimmed off along with the mold. The viable seeds will sink to the bottom, where they can be strained and rinsed. While this process may seem daunting, it is worth it, because shortcuts may affect the germination of your seeds.

Once you have the seeds, be sure to dry them thoroughly. (This can take a few days or up to a week.) Some seed savers dry seeds using china or plastic plates. Others use newspapers or other paper products, although you may run the risk of the seeds becoming glued to the paper. Still others use screens because screens have the best ventilation. Whichever type of container or surface you choose, scatter your seeds carefully, to keep them from drying in pairs or clumps. Leave your seeds in a dry place where the temperature will stay even and below 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once the seeds are dried, you need to store them in a place where they will remain cool, dark and dry. Some people place their seeds in their refrigerators. You can store the seeds in simple paper envelopes, plastic bags or empty film canisters. Be sure to seal and label the containers with the variety, date and any other pertinent information. Avoid opening a package until you are ready to plant, as moisture might dampen your seeds or cause them to mold. If you store them correctly, your seeds will be ready to plant next season.

Q How do you get rid of the grease that forms on the top of soup broth?

A: When grease collects on the top of the broth, float a piece of tissue paper on the soup and it will absorb the grease. Or skim the soup with a piece of ice. The grease will harden on the ice and can then be scraped off.

If you have a question for the Farmers’ Almanac write to Farmers’ Almanac, P.O. Box 1609, Lewiston, ME 04241 or e-mail: [email protected] almanac.com.

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