Posts Tagged ‘heirloom’

How to: Save Heirloom Tomato Seeds

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Saving your own tomato seeds is rather fun and has all sorts of benefits. Preserving heirloom seeds, ensuring a supply of your own favourites for next year, helping protect seed diversity, making a giant mess of stinky fermenting goo, it’s all there! It’s also pretty easy.

As part of our seed selling business we save fairly large quantities of tomato seed but the process is the same whether you are saving from a pile of heirloom tomatoes or from a paticularily tasty one you just sliced up for lunch.

First things first, you need to get your tomato seeds out of the tomato.  You can slice them in half, in quarters, scoop some out of the one you’re eating or just use my preferred method: Squishing. A serrated grapefruit spoon makes a great seed saving tool, especially when dealing with smaller cherry tomatoes. Just cut them in half and scoop out the inside of the tomatoes leaving the skin and outer flesh behind.

Next the seed pulp is ready to be combined with water in a container.  Glass jars are simple and food safe, but yogurt containers and tupperware are perfectly suitable. The only really important factor is that the container needs a lid. It’s going to get stinky so the lid is not optional.

Make sure to label each variety as you go as tomato seeds all look very similar and the coloured pulp is going to break down.

Place them out of direct sunlight and walk away for a few days. You’ll start to see the good seeds settle from the pulp down to the bottom of the container.

Now things will start to ferment. This fermentation process is breaking down the protective coating on each seed. After a few days and once you have a good layer of fuzzy stuff, dump it off, leaving the seeds in the bottom of the jar.  Any seeds at the top are duds, the good stuff is all at the bottom.  Top up the jar with some clean water and let it all happen again.  Once the seeds are starting to settle cleanly at the bottom they are done. Be careful not to leave things unsupervised for too many days as the seeds could start germinating.

Once the seeds are ready, pour off any remaining pulp and mould.

Using a strainer, give your seeds a final rinse. They should be looking rather naked by now.

Now you just need to let them dry.  A stack of clean rags or old tea towels work best, as paper towels sometimes stick.

Once again, label your seeds. Package them up a few days later when they’re perfectly dry and you’re set.  Next spring you’ll have more tomato seeds then you can plant.  Trading them with fellow seed savers and planting a few extra for gardening neighbours is highly recommended.

Heirloom Tomato Glamour Shots

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

I like photographing tomatoes almost as much as I like eating them. To wake up before everyone else at the farm and get to have a quiet cup of coffee and change lenses in peace is my idea of heaven. Here are some more photographs of this year’s tomatoes.  The seeds are fermenting and we are hoping to offer the seeds from these heirloom varieties in the shop for 2013.

Reistomate Tomatoes. They grow in clumps that you can pull off & eat one at a time. I cannot get over how amazing these are. Rebecca picked every single one, she couldn’t help herself.

Italian Noire Tomatoes.  These are quickly becoming my favourite tomato and it’s difficult to save the seeds because I keep eating them all. They are so flavourful, they don’t even need salt.

Red Pear Cherry Tomatoes are a classic heirloom that we grow every year.  The perfect tiny tomato.

Tim’s Black Ruffles.  So many ruffles and delicious to boot.

These are particularly perfect on a sandwich with basil, which I’m off to make right now.

Wordless Wednesday: Tigerella Tomatoes Look as Good as They Taste

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

Our little heirloom apple tree

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Last fall, after watching Michael Pollan’s Botany of Desire I decided it was time to add an heirloom apple tree to the mix.  So with some twitter followers goading me on, I found an orchard, made some inquiries and had placed our order by the time the documentary moved on from apples to marijuana. 

If you haven’t seen this documentary, please do (you can stream it from PBS here) and if you have, PBS also has some great extra videos on their site from Michael Pollan.  He talks about heirloom apples and really sums up my personal philosophy quite nicely by describing them as “The extravagance of nature that really made life worth living”.  Warning, these links will make you hunt down and plant an heirloom apple tree.

With some very helpful guidance from the folks at Siloam Orchards we decided on a Spitzenburg.  Its a fairly disease resistant heirloom apple from New York, that makes both a good eating and cider apple and really, if it was good enough for Monticellio, its good enough for us. 

Well the call finally came last week; spring is here and so was our 1 year old “whip”, basically a branch with roots and we needed to come and pick it up.  

So we spent what should have been a lovely day driving around gorgeous Ontario Farm Land looking for Siloam Orchards with a very grumpy toddler. We barely made it in time for their 3pm close, but had a great visit once we arrived.  Rebecca ran through the orchards and poked things with sticks and I bought pies. We’ll be back for apple picking in the fall.

Hey little apple blossom…
what seems to be the problem? 
picking clover?

She’s going to work on a tractor now.  Becca is wearing her new tree planting skirt for the occasion; A gift from the fabulous Sarah over at Bohdi Handmade on Etsy.  I think I want everything from her perfect little shop.

:::Sigh::: Ryan says no more fruit crates are coming into this house.
Not grumpy now that she’s out of that terrible car seat.
Never getting back in that car seat unless you give me apple chips.  
We also saw a brand new calf, all wobbly and proving that all is right in the world.
We got home just in time to plant our little Spitzenburg and all took a turn watering it.
All in all, it’s basically a very good day if you have really dirty feet by the end of it.

Please take a minute to click through some of the links as there are some very interesting things out there on the internet.  Apple Photo Credit: Oysters4me under flickr creative commons licence.

Wordless Wednesday: Harvest = Delicious

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Local Ontario Produce + Salt + Olive Oil + 45 minutes x 425 degrees = deliciousness