Photo courtesy of lambdageek at Flickr.com.
Seeds don’t cost much, but their price can add up season after season. If you’re self reliant and frugal, the best way to get your seeds is to harvest your own! That way, you can also ensure the quality of the seeds you use year after year. You can also guarantee that your seeds are free from pesticides or chemicals.
Looking for an easy seed to get started with? Peppers are easy to grow, hard to kill, and produce huge numbers of seeds! Peppers are useful for adding some spice to your cooking, but practitioners of alternative medicine use pepper oils to control pain, reduce inflammation, relieve arthritis, and treat other ailments.
Most peppers contain Capsaicin, which gives peppers their fiery taste. Hotter peppers have more Capsacian, and a higher rating on the Scoville Scale. For peppers, this spiciness is a natural defense mechanism. It produces a burning sensation on sensitive tissue, including fingertips, lips, mouthparts, and eyes. Capsicum is concentrated around the seeds – as far as the plant is concerned, protecting the seeds is a top priority. So, when handling peppers, it’s a good idea to wear rubber gloves and avoid touching your face or eyes.
The best time to harvest pepper seeds is right before you make fajitas with the peppers themselves. The seeds are ready at the same time that the peppers mature.
You have two different options for separating the seeds from the pepper. If you’re working with just a few peppers, you can simply cut the pepper open, and scrape out the seeds. They cluster along the central axis and separate easily from the walls of the pepper. With this method, there’s some risk of getting burned by the Capsaicin though.
If you’re dealing with a large volume of peppers, or if you want to play it safe, there’s another way to harvest the seeds. You can use a blender! Start by cutting off the tops of the peppers just under the stem. Then, put the peppers in your blender along with lots of water. Blend at a slow speed. Good seeds will settle to the bottom, while pepper debris and immature seeds will float to the top.
Pour out the mixture, starting with the unwanted material (it’s great for pouring into soups and adding some spice). Then, put the seeds on a paper towel and blot them dry. Let the seeds sit out on a windowsill for a little while until all the moisture evaporates. When they’re ready, you can store the seeds in a cool, dark place until its time to plant them!
That’s it – harvesting pepper seeds is even easier than harvesting lettuce seeds and only slightly harder than harvesting beans.
Photo courtesy of efairhurst at Flickr.com.