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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1. 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 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 and finally 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 significantly, and a simple *squeeze* will not cause the peppers to crack. Under-ripe peppers will usually make an audible cracking when squeezed. This is especially the case for thicker-skinned peppers, like jalapenos, bell peppers, and banana peppers.
To put it simply, look for these signs that a pepper is fully ripe:
- Changing color
- Softer skin (when squeezed)
- Easier to pick
2. Remove Seeds On 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 plate, or anything with a smooth surface.
How to Remove Pepper Seeds For Storage
- 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.
- Slice Peppers in Half.
Slice the peppers in half, lengthwise to reveal the remaining seeds and placenta.
- Detach Placenta.
Remove the placenta from the pepper using a knife, careful to avoid slicing seeds in half.
- 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.
- Spread Seeds & Allow To Dry
Keep your seeds in a well-ventilated area for 5-7 days.
3. Allow Pepper Seeds To Dry
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.
How Do I Know When Pepper Seeds Are Dry?
If you store your pepper seeds too early, you may have mold or bacteria growth. This is bad news and can ruin your seeds. To make sure you have a fully dried pepper seed, use our simple methods:
- Break seeds in half – They should *crack* in half rather than squashing. If they are not 100% firm, they are not dry enough yet.
- Viability water test – When seeds are dry enough to crack, put them in a glass of water. After 24 hours, those that have sunk are viable and will more likely germinate. This is not a necessary step, but it can in knowing which seeds are viable.
Once your seeds are properly dried out, you are ready to store them for several months until it is time to plant.
4. 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 dried. Buy some here.
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!
We hope this helped you learn how to store 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.