saving chili pepper seeds for planting

Asked February 14, 2017, 7:47 PM EST

How should we dry the chili peppers we harvested last year so that we can use the seeds to start new plants this spring?

Hennepin County Minnesota

1 Response

If you froze them or harvested before they were fully ripe the seeds may not be viable, here is how it is normally done.

Allow some fruits to stay on the plants until they become fully ripe and start to wrinkle. Remove the seeds from the peppers and spread them out to dry.

Store seeds in tightly-sealed glass containers. You can store different kinds of seeds, each in individual paper packets, together in a large container. Keep seeds dry and cool. A temperature between 32° and 41°F is ideal, so your refrigerator can be a good place to store seeds.

A small amount of silica-gel desiccant added to each container will absorb moisture from the air and help keep the seeds dry. Silica gel is sold in bulk for drying flowers at craft supply stores. Powdered milk can also be used as a desiccant. Use one to two tablespoons of milk powder from a freshly opened package. Wrap the powder in a piece of cheesecloth or a facial tissue and place it in the container with the seeds. Powdered milk will absorb excess moisture from the air for about six months.

Be sure to label your saved seeds with their name, variety, and the date you collected them. It's too easy to forget the details by the following spring.