Zucchini is one of the easiest and most abundant vegetable crops to cultivate for many gardeners. Learn how to save zucchini seeds effectively so you can produce your favorite type year after year!
Zucchini seeds are simple to store with a few particular techniques. People’s most common mistake while saving zucchini seeds is not hand pollinating the fruits they want to save.
Let’s face it. Not all zucchini is created equally delicious, even when they come from the same garden and are grown side by side! Some zucchini varieties may be bitter or tough to chew, while others can be too watery or “seedy.”
So how do you determine which zucchini variety is the best tasting so you can grow it again, year after year?
Saving your seed for yearly planting ensures you have an endless supply of summer veggies. Zucchini seeds mature after the fruit has passed the edible stage, which can take several weeks.
Leave a few squashes on your healthiest and most productive plants to set seeds. The seeds frequently share the same beneficial characteristics as the parent plants.
How To Save Zucchini Seeds
Step 1: Find the Heirloom Zucchini Variety
- Before saving zucchini seeds, you must first ensure that you are dealing with an open-pollinated or non-hybrid variety, sometimes known as an heirloom.
- You won’t get squash if you store seeds from a hybrid variety and replant them.
- The end outcome is usually a lush plant that doesn’t yield.
- If it does yield fruit, the size and quality will most likely disappoint you.
- Although there are other heritage zucchini cultivars, Black Beauty is one of the most popular.
Step 2: Determine the Best Time Harvest the Zucchini Seeds
The next step is to harvest the seeds once you’ve determined that you have an heirloom zucchini variety.
- It’s preferable to save zucchini seeds once the squash has fully matured and then some before removing it from the vine.
- If you’re picking seeds from squash, you want it to be overripe, squishy, and mostly inedible.
- This is because you want the seeds to be fully established and mature when you plant them.
- Most squash seeds are tiny and immature when found in a completely ripe squash.
- When zucchini reaches the end of its useful life, the skin begins to shrink and get leathery, which is the ideal time to harvest the seeds.
Step 3: Scoop out the Seeds and Clean Them
- Cut one overripe heritage zucchini in half and scrape out the seeds, placing them in an empty bowl.
- Remove the majority of the pulp from the seeds using your fingertips.
- Fill the dish with water and put it aside for a few minutes to allow the seeds to settle.
- The viable and healthy seeds will end up at the bottom of the container, while the dead seeds and the majority of the pulp will rise to the top surface.
- Remove the dead seeds and pulp using a slotted spoon once the pulp and seeds have separated.
- Allow for 5-10 minutes of resting time before straining through a fine-mesh strainer.
- The seeds that are fat and plump are the ones that should be saved. They can be composted with the flesh if they are flat and malformed.
- The healthy seeds can then be drained on a paper towel.
- The seeds should be white and creamy to the touch, indicating that they’re ready to dry once most of the liquid has evaporated.
Step 4: Dry Out the Seeds
The next step in the zucchini seed saving process is to dry them out a little. You can achieve this in a few different ways.
Option 1: Use the Normal Oven
- The simplest method is to use a normal oven.
- To begin, spread the seeds out on a baking sheet in a single layer.
- Close the oven door and turn on the oven light after placing the baking sheet on the middle rack.
- IMPORTANT: DO NOT TURN ON THE OVEN.
- The light’s ambient heat is sufficient to dry out the seeds in 36-48 hours.
- When the seeds have dried sufficiently, they will be tougher, brittle, and shrunk slightly.
Option 2: Use the Dehydrator
You can also use a food dehydrator to save zucchini seeds.
- On the dehydrator tray, spread the seeds evenly in a single layer.
- Depending on the model, the seeds may need to be placed atop foil to prevent them from falling through the trays.
- The time it takes for the seeds to dry varies depending on the dehydrator model, but they are usually dry enough in a day or two.
- The goal is to keep the seeds as far away from the heat source as possible while using the lowest attainable setting.
Option 3: Let the Seeds Air Dry
Allowing zucchini seeds to air dry is a third option for storing them.
- Spread them out on a baking sheet or foil in a single layer and store them somewhere dry, preferably away from the kitchen’s humidity.
- In most circumstances, a few days will be adequate to dry out the seeds. You want them to stiffen and shrink slightly once more.
Step 5: Store the Dried Seeds
- After that, place the seeds in an envelope and store them in a refrigerator container.
- Make sure the envelope is labeled, so you know what seeds are inside.
- Several envelopes can fit within one quart-sized jar if you’re saving a lot of different seeds.
- A tablespoon of dry rice should also be placed at the bottom of the jar to absorb any excess liquid.
How dry should they be?
It’s both an art and a science to save seeds. However, with a little practice and experience, you won’t require a degree. It only takes a few hundred years to realize that humans have long known how to save seeds selectively to cultivate year after year.
Allow your fingers to do a little observation test to see whether your seeds are dry enough to store. Have the skins started to crumble off their thin, transparent tissue and become papery? Are they rattling in your hands?
If you’re still not convinced, open one up and look inside to reveal the genuine seed. It should appear as well as feel dry. Allow your zucchini seeds to dry for at least two days and two more for good measure.
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Saving zucchini seeds takes some time and patience, but it’s well worth the effort. There are several advantages to DIY seed saving.
Maintenance of flavor, diversity, and productivity are three reasons why it’s worth saving zucchini seeds. You can continue to grow your favorite cultivars by keeping the seed lines alive.
Saving seeds ensures you have a chance to start over should something go wrong with your crop. Finally, if you’re growing for seed production, knowing the right methods will help you become more profitable.
Even if you’re growing for personal consumption, knowing how to save zucchini seeds is a valuable skill. You can save money by buying fewer seeds and avoiding mistakes that would otherwise require expensive pesticides or fungicides.
In addition, keeping your favorite cultivars genetically pure ensures you get the best possible yields from your plants.
Chief among the conveniences of seed saving is that it gives you control over your harvest and garden. Selectively saved seeds form the basis for better vegetable choices and a more diverse diet.
After all of this, save some zucchini for eating! It’s an excellent way to add extra vitamins and minerals to any meal. Don’t forget to compost the seeds you’re not going to save.
Zucchini seeds have a relatively long shelf life, but it’s inadvisable to keep them if they’ve been hanging around for more than five years.