Anyone who has cut open a pepper knows that they are full of seeds, and so a great
resource for the gardener at home, having a supply of seeds to store and plant year-on-year.
Seeds need to be treated and stored properly before they can used. As described earlier, vi-
able seeds are unlikely to come from store-bought peppers as the peppers were more than
likely harvested before the seeds had a chance to mature fully. You must be careful also
with seeds from hybrid varieties. These hybrid peppers were formed by the fertilization of
two different varieties, therefore the only way you can generate the exact same pepper is be
crossing these two varieties again. Saving and growing hybrid seeds is like a lottery - you
simply don't know what type of pepper you're going to get!
Therefore to save seeds for next year you will need non-hybrid or open-pollinated
varieties as your starting source. You must ensure the peppers are fully ripe, which means
they are just past optimal eating condition. Choose a pepper which is of full color on which
the skin is just starting to wrinkle. Slice open the pepper and carefully remove the seeds
on to a paper towel. To have seeds ready for planting next year, you want them to be suffi-
ciently dried out. Should they be simply stored when damp, infection and rotting can occur.
Dry them gently and remove any debris or plant material left on them. If there are any dam-
aged or discolored seeds, discard them. Place the seeds on a fresh paper towel, ensuring
that the seeds are well separated from one another. Place somewhere warm and dark e.g. an
airing cupboard. After a few days once they have started to dry, place them into a cup and
continue to move them about every few days, to ensure good airflow to all seeds. The seeds
will be ready when they are quite brittle. To test bite one with your teeth - if a dent mark is
seen they require further drying out. When dry, take a labelled envelope and store the seeds
in a cool, dark area away from sunlight. Storing in the refrigerator is perfect. Take care if
you decide to freeze the seeds. If the seeds have not dried out enough and there is enough
moisture in the seed, the freezing of the seeds will cause expansion of this water present,
and can cause damage or rupturing of the seed upon thawing. Correctly stored, seeds can
last for a number of years, though their germination efficiency will decrease as the years
While saving seeds is relatively straight forward there are a few things to watch out
Capsaicin is stored in the membrane of peppers (where the seeds are held in place),
therefore be careful when handling them that you do not burn yourself or rub your eyes etc.