Eggplant seeds are processed much like tomatoes. The main difference is that tomatoes are allowed to ferment in the same liquid that is used to separate the seeds, while eggplant fruit is rotted first and then added to water to separate the seeds. Fair warning – rotten eggplant has a really nasty smell (the seeds, of course, are completely odorless).
Processing the eggplant to remove the seeds is very much like panning for gold. The seeds are heavier than the pulp, and they sink to the bottom while the pulp and other trash is poured out from the top. After a few rinse and pour cycles, you are left with nice clean eggplant seeds.
Yes, this is far more seed than any gardener could possibly need, but there are two reasons why I process so many:
- Eggplants are an in-breeding variety. Even though you may only need a couple of plants to supply all your needs, if you are saving seeds, you need to plant as many as possible (six is considered the absolute minimum) in order to maintain genetic diversity in your plants and their seeds.
- Part of the joy of saving seeds is being able to give them away. A large quantity of seeds from this batch was carried to West Africa by missionary friends who will be planting them in their garden and sharing them with the natives in their village. They also carried a number of other seeds from our garden and seeds that others have shared with us.
Probably the single best reference book for saving seeds is Seed to Seed, by Suzanne Ashworth. Sub-titled Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners, it is filled with detailed information about the best way to process and store seeds for maximum long-term viability. It is an essential book for any Southern Agrarian.
After the seeds have been fully dried, pour them into a clean, dry canning jar and screw the lid down tightly. They should be stored in a cool dark place.
The dehydrator that we use is the Excalibur large 9-tray, Model #3926T. It is a forced air unit and has a timer and adjustable temperature control. A good dehydrator should be a part of any homestead. We have been well pleased with our Excalibur.