Cleaning and Storing Your Own Seed

This is a brief introduction on how you can process your own seeds for saving. We have found that properly saved seed outperforms commercially purchased seed for most crops.


Fleshy fruits are typically wet processed. This includes washing and sometimes fermentation to reduce seed-born diseases. Dry seed can be threshed from the pod and further winnowed from the chaff to get clean seed.

Dry seed can be cleaned of seed-born pathogens by using hot water treatments, but these can vary with time and temperature so experimentation and additional research are suggested. Contact us with questions about treatments to rid seeds of seed-born pathogens. Remember prevention can save a lot of heartache, so keep your maturing pods as dry as possible.


Short-term seed storage is fine in paper bags, envelopes for small samples, or 5 gallon plastic buckets for larger ones. Low humidity, airtight, and low-light storage will maintain seed viability and vigor longer than seeds stored under fluctuating temperatures and humidity. Mason jars work well for seed storage. For long-term storage, keeping airtight containers with <8% moisture at -20C in the freezer will keep seeds for at least ten times longer than if kept at room temperature.

For information on the families of plants we are conserving, please visit our Seed Information Library.

Further reading: Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener’s and Farmer’s Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving, 2nd ed., by Carol Deppe

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