seed saving
seed saving methods
Saving eggplant seeds

Eggplant (sometimes known as aubergine) is a tasty and versatile vegetable that is both worth growing and saving seeds from.  However it takes a little more effort to extract the seeds from eggplant fruit, than say from tomato or capsicum fruit.  Here is how to save your own eggplant seeds.

Selecting the fruit
photo of a mature and imature eggplant
Immature (top) and mature
Tsakoniki eggplant (bottom).
Photo of removing eggplant pulp with a teaspoon
1.  Removing the pulp with a teaspoon.

2. Removing large pieces of pulp with low pressure water and finger massage.

3. Removing the remaining pulp with a high pressure hose.

4. Tapping the base of the sieve onto newspaper to absorb excess water.

5. The end product; clean and dry eggplant seeds.
Eggplants will both self and cross pollinate, which means that an eggplant is more likely to fertilise its seeds with pollen from its own flowers but it can cross pollinate with other varieties of eggplants.  To improve the likelihood that the eggplant seeds you collect are true to type it is best to only grow one variety of eggplant and to grow them bunched together, that way if cross pollination does occur it is most likely to be with one of the nearby eggplants of the same variety.

The eggplant that you eat are in fact only half mature.  This is because the more mature an eggplant is the more bitter the taste.  A fully matured eggplant is too bitter to eat.  Eggplant seeds need to be saved from fully mature eggplants. 

You can tell whether an eggplant is fully mature by the colour of its skin.  Mature eggplants have a dull grey to light yellowish hue to them depending on the variety of eggplant, this yellowish colouration is more pronounced in variegated varieties of eggplant than black varieties. 
In order to get a good genetic spread choose fruit from at least two or three different eggplants, but only from healthy disease free plants as some diseases can be transferred from the mother plant to the seeds.

How to save eggplant seeds: step by step
  1. Extract the pulp containing the seeds
    Slice the eggplant in half lengthwise.  With a teaspoon gouge out the pulp containing the seeds and place in a bowl.  The seeds will be concentrated at the base of the eggplant so take most of the pulp from there.
  2.  Wash pulp under low pressure
    Transfer pulp to a fine mesh sieve.  Gently massage the lumps of pulp with your thumb and forefinger while spraying with a low pressure jet of water.  This will push most of the seeds from the pulp.  Pick out the larger pieces of pulp which should leave you with a mixture of seeds and a soft pulp slurry.  
  3. Wash remaining pulp under high pressure.
    Spray the seeds with a high pressure hose until all the remaining soft pulp has been pushed through the sieve and you are left with just the seeds.
  4.  Remove the excess water.
    Tap the sieve’s bottom on several sheets of newspaper so that the newspaper absorbs most of the excess water then tip the seeds onto some more dry newspaper.
  5.  Dry and package the seeds.
    Leave the seeds on the newspaper to dry for a couple of days.  Any spot where it is warm with good ventilation, but not in direct sunlight as too much heat may cook the seeds. Once the seeds are completely dry place them in a dry container. 
    Old envelopes, plastic coin bags and small jars are all suitable.  These days I use old tic tac containers as their flip top lids are ideal for doling out the seeds when it comes to planting time.  But don’t forget to label the seeds and record the use by date.  If stored properly eggplant seeds will last for five years.   

    Continue to collect new seeds every couple of years.  If you find that the eggplants are not growing true to type then discard the seeds and buy some replacement seed stock.

PAGE CREATED 27th April 2016