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How to Harvest and Save Pepper Seeds: 5 Things to Know

If peppers are one of your favorite fruits, you’d be happy to know that you can harvest them yourself and save their seeds to plant for next year.

To harvest and save pepper seeds, choose seeds from the plant producing the best-tasting peppers. Allow the pepper to ripen and wrinkle to get fully matured pods that can produce the most viable seeds. Save the best-looking seeds and store them in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dark area.

With proper care, pepper seeds will give you good yields in your next harvest. Keep reading to learn more on how to harvest and save pepper seeds so that you can grow plenty of peppers in the next growing season.

Bell pepper cut in half exposing its white seeds
Photo by Olga Popova

Step-by-Step Guide to Harvesting Pepper Seeds

Peppers are so versatile that you can eat them cooked or raw and keep them in your freezer to enjoy in the winter. Although peppers require proper care and the right temperature to thrive, they are relatively easy to grow, so if you like gardening, why not save the seeds for future use?

Choose Your Fruit

For the best produce, you want to get pepper seeds from the best, most delicious fruits produced by the best and healthiest pepper plant. Once you’ve chosen a plant, let the plant’s fruits ripen—this may take several months, and the peppers should look red. You want to wait until the fruit wrinkles and matures fully.

You want to get seeds from fully matured pods because they produce the most viable pepper seeds. Once the pods have matured, harvest the pepper pod, and extract the pepper’s seeds.

Extract the Seeds

To extract pepper seeds, cut your pepper in half exposing its core and membranes that the seeds are attached to. Gently use your finger to scrape out the seeds onto a plate or paper towel.

Prepare Your Pepper Seeds

After removing your pepper’s seeds, check them and get rid of any bad or discolored ones. Put the seeds on a paper towel to let them dry. Make sure you dry the seeds someplace warm, but not under direct sunlight. If you’re using a dehydrator, you want to make sure the temperature does not go beyond 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius). In fact, 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Celsius) is ideal.

Wait for Your Seeds to Dry

You want to flip over your seeds every few days to make sure they are dry. They should be completely dry after about a week. You will know they are dry when they are hard and won’t bend when bitten.

Benefits of Harvesting Pepper Seeds

Peppers are one of the best fruits to save seeds because they can self-pollinate, and you do not need to give the seeds special treatment before storing them. If you love peppers, there is no reason not to harvest and save their seeds. You can keep the seeds for your garden and use them in the year that follows.

Experiment with Crossbreeding Hybrid Peppers

You can cross-pollinate peppers to create different hybrid peppers, and while it’s okay to do that, you may not want to save seeds that you get from pepper plants that have been cross-pollinated if you are looking to grow peppers yearly.

Be careful not to have your pepper plants cross-pollinate if you have many of them growing in your garden. Make sure your plants have enough room to be apart from each other.

If you don’t care about what pepper types you get, though, there’s no harm growing pepper hybrids you like. You can grow peppers that are extra spicy if you want or, you can grow sweeter peppers.

Saving Money by Not Needing to Buy Seeds

Peppers are delicious and take a bit of time to grow, which is why they (and store-bought seeds) can be a little expensive. Fortunately, you can save money by growing them yourself in your garden or indoors. All you have to do is store the seeds properly, so you don’t have to repurchase your favorite pepper seeds.

Make Some Extra Money by Selling Seeds or Peppers

By harvesting and saving pepper seeds, you can grow your own peppers and sell them for extra income. You can even sell the seeds if you like on marketplaces like Etsy.

If you don’t sell them to your local market, you can always sell them to friends and family. Since you can keep peppers in the freezer, you can save enough peppers to last you through winter.

Grow Rarer Varieties of Peppers

Some rarer varieties of peppers can be scarce and difficult to find in supermarkets. Many companies now use different seed types to grow hybrid peppers that are easier to grow. This makes it harder to find some varieties of peppers. Saving up seeds and growing these rare varieties allows you to have access to them anytime you want.

How to Store Harvested Pepper Seeds

Pepper seeds can last for years when appropriately stored under the right conditions. The temperatures at which the seeds will last the longest are around 35-50 degrees Fahrenheit (1.6-10 degrees Celsius). Store the seeds in an airtight bag placed in a properly sealed container in a dark, dry place—the refrigerator is excellent.

You want to ensure that both your sealed containers are damage-free so no excess moisture can get inside. Alternatively, you can keep the seeds in a glass container. Just add a desiccant, or drying agent, to the container to absorb moisture.

You can buy a silica gel desiccant from your local flower shop or make one yourself. Use a tissue to wrap 1-2 tablespoons of powdered milk and put it into the container containing seeds. You should replace the powdered milk desiccant every six months.

Since pepper seeds all look quite similar, you want to make sure you label them properly to avoid confusion when the next planting season comes. You’ll want to include on your label the name, variety, and date of collection.

Although you can keep pepper seeds for years, it would be best to use the seeds within a year of harvesting. This is because the seeds’ viability decreases over time. As the seeds age and degrade, they may not sprout or give you the results you want.

Which Containers are Best for Storing Pepper Seeds?

The best containers for storing pepper seeds are dry plastic or glass containers with strong lids. You can also use paper envelopes. Tea packets or money envelopes are excellent for storing your pepper seeds to keep them dry, and are easy to label.

How Long do Harvested Pepper Seeds Last?

You can keep harvested pepper seeds for many years when stored properly. However, it would be best to use the seeds within a year to ensure you get the most viable seeds for your next planting. Pepper seeds become less viable over time.

Closing Thoughts

It is easy to harvest and save pepper seeds to have plenty of peppers to plant next season. All you need to do is dry them and store them in a properly sealed container or paper envelope, someplace dry and dark, like your pantry or the refrigerator. When stored properly, pepper seeds can last years.