Wednesday, 22 June 2011
Saving your own aubergine seeds
Aubergine flowers are mainly self pollinated, but can be crossed by insects. So if you are planning to save seed, you should only grow one variety or use an isolation cage.
To get ripe seeds let the fruits mature well past eating stage. Purple and black varieties will turn a muddy purple-brown colour, whilst green and white varieties will turn yellowish. Choose 1-2 good fruits on each plant to leave for seed.
To remove the seed, cut into quarters lengthwise, avoiding the core, and pull apart. The hard brown seeds should be obvious. Put the quarters into a bowl of tepid water, and rub the seeds out with your fingers. You may need to pull them apart to get all of the seeds. Add more water, stir thoroughly, and wait a few minutes. Good seeds will sink to the bottom, leaving debris and poor quality seeds on the surface. Pour the debris off gently through a sieve, then refill with water and repeat a couple more times.
Eventually you will be left with good seeds in plain water. Empty into a clean sieve, shake to remove as much water as possible, and then tip on to a plate and spread out well. Put somewhere to sun dry but mix occasionally to make sure that they dry evenly and don't stick together. Aubergine seeds will keep up to 6 years if dried thoroughly and stored in a cool dark place.