How To Save Pepper Seeds

How To Store Pepper Seeds

The growing season is coming to an end, peppers are ripening and you may be wondering how to save pepper seeds for next year. Our pepper seed saving method is easy, but there are some critical tips you should follow. In this article, we will explain how we save pepper seeds for growing next year.

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Choose Ripe Peppers

The first, and most important step to storing pepper seeds is to choose fully ripened peppers. The reason for this is to ensure that the seeds you will be storing are fully developed. This will increase the likelihood of germination when you are growing next season.

For example, if you are storing jalapeño seeds, you’ll want to choose a bright red pepper rather than a younger green pepper. This is because red peppers are nearing the final stages of ripening.

How To Know When Peppers Are Fully Ripe

A fully ripened pepper will almost always go through a color change. Jalapeños turn from green to deep black to red when fully ripe. Green bell peppers will eventually turn orange, yellow or red (red bell peppers are in fact just fully ripened green bell peppers!). Even banana peppers will eventually turn a red color.

Not all peppers turn red, for example, our Lemon Spice Jalapeno peppers ripen to a bright yellow color.

Another characteristic of fully ripened peppers is a softer texture. Under-ripe peppers are typically very firm. After ripening, the pepper’s flesh will soften slightly, and a simple *squeeze* will not cause the peppers to crack.

Under-ripe peppers will usually make an audible cracking sound when squeezed. This is especially the case for thicker-skinned peppers, like jalapenos, bell peppers, and banana peppers.

Ripe Lemon Spice Jalapeno
Color Change of Ripe Lemon Spice Jalapeno

To put it simply, look for these signs that a pepper is fully ripe:

  • Change in color
  • Softer skin (when squeezed)
  • Easier to pick

Remove Seeds Onto a Plate (Not a Paper Towel!)

It seems logical to dry pepper seeds on a paper towel. We do not recommend using a paper towel due to the porous surface. This can cause the seeds to start germinating instead of drying. It is not too common, but to avoid this issue, simply use a ceramic plate, or anything with a smooth surface.

How to Remove Pepper Seeds For Storage

  1. Slice Off Bottoms & Roll Peppers.

    Slice off the bottom of each pepper just above the end. Most of the seeds are located at the top of a pepper. Squeeze and roll the peppers in your hand (using gloves for hot peppers), allowing as many seeds as possible to fall onto your plate. This helps speed up the process and avoid damaging your seeds.Bottom Slice

  2. Slice Peppers in Half.

    Slice the peppers in half, lengthwise to reveal the remaining seeds and placenta.

  3. Detach Placenta.

    Remove the placenta from the pepper using a knife, careful to avoid slicing seeds in half.Pepper Anatomy

  4. Remove Remaining Seeds

    Many seeds will remain embedded in the placenta. You can either remove them manually, or simply let the entire placenta dry on the plate. This will take longer to dry, but once it is dry the seeds will fall off much easier.

  5. Spread Seeds & Allow To Dry

    Keep your seeds in a well-ventilated area for 5-7 days.


How To Dry Pepper Seeds

Allowing seeds to dry takes a while. Just keep them in a well-ventilated room. Airflow and dryness is key! Jostle the seeds around every day to make sure both sides of the seeds are getting dried out.

In a typical climate with around 40% humidity, seeds should be adequately dried within 1 week. If the humidity is higher where you live, you may need to wait a bit longer or provide some additional airflow with a fan.

How To Dry Pepper Seeds

Drying pepper seeds is as simple as allowing the seeds to sit for several days at room temperature. Here are the steps for how to dry pepper seeds:

  • Spread pepper seeds out on a plate so few are touching one another
  • Aim a small fan at the seeds on low if humidity is high
  • Jostle the seeds daily, careful not to mix up different seed varieties
  • Test for dryness after 7 days

How Do I Know When Pepper Seeds Are Dry?

If you store your pepper seeds before they are properly dried, you may end up with mold growth or bacteria. This is bad news and can ruin your seeds or infect future plants. To make sure you have a fully dried pepper seed, use this simple method:

  • Break seeds in half – Properly dried pepper seeds should *crack* in half rather than squashing or bending. If they are not 100% firm, they are not yet dry enough to be saved.

Once they are properly dried out, you are ready to store your pepper seeds for several months (or even years!) until it is time to plant.


Save Seeds in Sealed Container

When your pepper seeds are dried, they must be kept dry and cool. Label your seeds and store them in a sealed glass container. You can also use heavy-duty Zipoc bags. Ideally, you should keep your dry seeds sealed in the refrigerator around 40F degrees.

If you plan to store your seeds for an extended period of time, keeping a food-grade desiccant packet inside will help keep the seeds fully dry. Buy some on Amazon.

Labeled and Stored Seeds
Always label!

Tip: Always label your seeds! Even if you are only storing one pepper variety, it is best to record the date and type of seed to make things easier later.

After you have packed away your dried seeds, don’t forget to use the remaining fresh pepper flesh for drying, or one of the many other alternatives for preserving peppers! Don’t let your hard work go to waste!

Next year, use our pepper growing guide to use your saved pepper seeds!

How Can I Tell If Old Pepper Seeds Are Still Good?

You may have older seeds that were saved from years past. Pepper seeds can remain growable for several years if properly stored. However, you can run a simple test to determine which seeds are more likely to sprout.

The viability water test – To check old seeds for viability, place them in a glass of water. Wait 24 hours, those that have sunk are viable and will more likely germinate.

Only run this test when you are ready to plant your pepper seeds. After soaking the seeds, they should be planted right away, as the moisture may initiate germination.


Avoiding Disease When Saving Pepper Seeds

One important thing to consider when saving pepper seeds is the possibility of viruses or bacteria. Some viruses are seed-borne, meaning they can be spread from a seed into the plant. Here are a few things to consider before saving pepper seeds.

Never save seeds from a diseased plant. If you suspect that your garden was infected with a disease, whether it be viral or bacterial, don’t save those seeds. Many viruses, including the prevalent mosaic virus, can be seed borne. This puts you at risk of spreading the virus to next year’s plants through this year’s seeds.

If you have a variety that you really want to continue growing, look into seed sterilization methods to minimize the risk of spreading.

Sterilize seeds if you suspect infection. Depending on where your pepper seeds came from, you may worry that they carry infection. There are many methods to sterilizing seeds, some more intense than others.

While this is not usually necessary, if you are trying your hardest to avoid disease, this can help mitigate the risk. Note: This is to be done at the time of planting, not during the pepper seed saving process.


We hope this helped you learn how to save pepper seeds for planting next year. Almost nothing is more satisfying than growing a new plant from your very own pepper seeds. Good luck, and let us know if you have any other recommendations for keeping pepper seeds.


Calvin Thumbnail

Calvin

One of the original Pepper Geeks! When Calvin isn’t gardening or learning more about peppers and botany, he might be traveling new places or playing some music.

15 thoughts on “How To Save Pepper Seeds”

  1. Thanks for the detailed instructions. I haven’t saved seeds for about 10 years but I want to do it again this year. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  2. Hi!
    I don’t have an Habanero pepper plant, and the only habaneros i can get are orange in color, do you think they would work since they are not as ripper/rippen as they could be?
    I also have a question about putting the seeds on a glass of water after you dried them out to see if they sink, so that means you would take them out after 24hrs of being in water and dried them again? and would soaking them in water for 24hrs not affect them somehow? I understand you said this was just a suggestion and we don’t have to do it, and I wouldn’t mind doing it if it gives me better chances of germinating next year, i just wanted to make sure i understood what you were saying.
    Thankx!

    Reply
    • Hi Alejandra,

      Habaneros are ripe when they are orange – some varieties will turn red, but the most common varieties are orange. They should be good!

      Not sure where you read about putting seeds in water after they are dried. We don’t usually do this, we simply plant multiple seeds per seed tray cell to ensure high germination rate.

      As long as the peppers are ripe (which it sound like they are) the seeds should be mostly viable.

      Learn more about germinating seeds in our article here.

      Thanks,
      -Calvin

      Reply
      • Yes, I was wondering the same thing. It’s states in the article to place your dried seeds in water to determine which float or not.

        Was this written in error?

        Reply
        • Ah – my mistake, this is simply a viability test. It is usually done just before planting, not after drying fresh seeds.

          We don’t typically use this method unless we are trying to grow very old seeds.

          We have updated the article to clear up any confusion. Thanks for reaching out!

          Reply
  3. Is it possible to take seeds from a pickled pepper and save them? I have found these Italian pepper i love, but can’t determine the exact variety. They are delallo “pepper drops”. Small red pepper that are preserved (in water, sugar, vinegar, sale, ascorbicacid, and calcium cholride).

    Reply
    • Hi,

      This would be an experiment worth trying. However, it is unlikely that pickled pepper seeds will germinate for 2 reasons:

      – Vinegar can damage seeds
      – Most store bought pickled foods are cooked at high temperatures

      This shouldn’t stop you from trying, but don’t be too optimistic!

      I will say, after looking up those peppers, they look similar to the Biquinho pepper (spicy pepper) – You can get some seeds for them here.

      Good luck!
      -Calvin

      Reply
  4. The seeds i took out of my jalepenos turned black within hours after Removing them and putting them on a plate to dry. I was harvesting sunflower seeds from sunflawer before starting on the jalepenos and wondering if that had anything to do with them turning black

    Reply
    • Hi Jody,

      It is likely that your jalapeno seeds did not develop properly or died. They may not be viable when you attempt to grow them next year. Healthy seeds will remain off-white when fully dried. It is unlikely that it had anything to do with the sunflower seeds.

      Best of luck,
      -Calvin

      Reply
    • You can try it, however some dried peppers are cooked slightly during dehydration. This may render the seeds unviable. You could try germinating a few now to see if they will be reliable when the time comes to plant next year!

      -Calvin

      Reply
  5. They are calling for a freeze here tonight and I have several bell pepper varieties with no ripened peppers that I want to save. If I bring in some that are green will the pepper and the seeds continue to ripen and be viable? Or should I try to save them from green peppers? They are very large OP varieties just not colored up yet! Thanks

    Reply

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