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Heirloom Tomatoes

We wanted to find out more about the beauty and delicious flavor of heirloom tomatoes, so we visited the world-famous Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa, to find out more about these old-fashioned favorites—including how to properly save their seeds so

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-I'm Jane McKeon with Nature's Garden Magazine. We want to learn more about the flavors and beauty of heirloom tomatoes, so we came here to the world famous Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa. Seed Savers Exchange preserves rare vegetable varieties including more than 6000 different kinds of heirloom tomatoes. Maintaining genetic diversity is one reason to save the old varieties, but most of us grow heirloom tomatoes simply because they taste great. You can buy seeds from many seed catalogues. Even if you don't garden, many heirloom tomatoes also are available at local farmer's markets. Once you pick your favorite varieties, try saving the seeds so you can grow the same ones next year. It's easy. Cut your tomatoes one variety at a time and squeeze the pulp, juice, and seeds into a glass or plastic container. Label and set the container in a cool well-ventilated place such as the garage or screen porch for a few days. Be sure to stir the fermenting juices a couple of times a day. On the 4th day, drain the seeds through a fine mesh strainer. Using running water and your fingers, to remove the remaining fruit jelly from the seeds. Allow the seeds to dry for 3 or 4 weeks in a well-ventilated place at room temperature. Store dried seeds and label the paper envelopes. Heirloom tomato seeds make great gifts especially if the variety has been passed down from generation to generation in your family. Now that you know how easy it is to preserve the seeds of these heirloom treasures, try it for yourself in your own backyard. This is Jane McKeon with Nature's Garden.