Selecting and saving seeds from your best-producing pepper plants or other people’s harvests allows you to grow seedlings better equipped to grow well in your microclimate. Even in peppers of the same variety, some plants will adapt and perform better than others.
If possible, look for peppers labeled as heirlooms or open-pollinated, because only these produce seed true to the parent plant. As you save seeds each year, you are gradually selecting the strongest genetic line for your garden, which eventually results in larger harvests and better-flavored peppers.
However, if you’re just getting started, it’s important to get the process down in order to build the skills necessary to produce your own harvests. There’s a lot of fun to be had curating your own garden, examining your plants, finding the best peppers, and planning on how to improve year over year. That doesn’t even scratch the surface on the satisfaction of using entirely your own stock to make tasty sauces, salsas, and any other application you want!
Things You Will Need
- Paper plate
- Paper towels
- Airtight container
Wear gloves when handling hot peppers and their seeds. The oils on these pepper varieties can irritate the skin or eyes.
- Harvest the peppers after the vegetable becomes the full mature color, usually a dark red, and the skin begins to wrinkle. Peppers must mature on the vine to develop viable seeds.
- Cut the pepper in half with a clean knife. Shake the seeds out of the pepper halves and into a bowl. Dislodge any seeds that cling to the flesh with your fingers. Remove any vegetable pieces that fall into the bowl so only the seeds remain.
- Line a plate with a paper towel. Spread the seeds out on top the towel in a single layer, arranging the seeds so they do not touch each other.
- Set the plate in a dry, well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight. Allow the seeds to dry for one to two weeks. Replace the paper towel if it becomes damp before the seeds dry.
- Transfer the dry seeds to an airtight container. Label the container with pepper variety and harvest month and year. Store in a dark, cool, dry place, 32 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit, until spring planting.
The refrigerator provides proper storage temperature for pepper seeds, which helps them stay viable.