If you’ve read my post on saving tomato seeds, then this post on saving seeds from cucumbers will probably look familiar.
Saving seeds wasn’t on my radar until I went to a Seed Saver’s Exchange and attended a short break out session on seed saving. It was there that I learned that plants store information – such as climate conditions, soil conditions, etc – into their seeds, so when that seed is planted in the same conditions, it will be able to survive and produce even better than the parent seeds did. This information blew my mind and I was instantly fascinated and somewhat obsessed with saving seeds.
But the idea of saving all the seeds from all the plants overwhelmed me, especially when I found out some seeds would be nearly impossible for me to save in our climate. So I started with something simple – Sugar snap peas. Then I figured out tomatoes, arugula, a few flowers, and now here we are at cucumbers.
It can be easy for cucumbers to hide amongst those giant leaves, which means it can be easy to get overripe cucumbers perfect for seed saving, without a lot of effort. However, be sure you’re not just selecting the fruit because it’s convenient. Make sure the fruit looks healthy – no damaged skin, no bug activity, etc. This will ensure the seeds are the best and highest quality and will produce healthy, high-quality plants that are less susceptible to pests and disease.
A cucumber is ready to harvest for seeds when it turns orange or yellow and the skin becomes tough. You can save the seeds as you get these ideal cucumbers on your vine, you don’t have to wait until several are ready at the same time.
Bring the overripe cucumbers inside and rinse them off. Cut in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and pulp from the middle of the cucumbers into a glass jar, or another see-through container that has a lid. I found the pulp to be harder to remove from the cucumber seeds than it was for tomato seeds, so I used a sieve, dumped the seed and pulp mixture into it and rinse it under cool water while gently swishing around the seeds with my hand in order to get them to separate from the larger chunks of pulp.
Once I had most of the big chucks removed, I put the seeds and the remaining pulp back into the jar and covered them with filtered water. Then I put a lid on the jar and set it aside for 24 hours.
The following day, I dumped the seeds into the sieve again and swished them around with my hand and removed as much pulp as possible. I returned them to the jar again and covered them with fresh filtered water. Covered, and set aside for another 24 hours.
I repeated the same process on the third day. On the fourth day, the pulp had separated entirely and was floating on top alone with a few of the seeds. Most of the seeds were sitting on the bottom. I gently scooped out everything that was floating on top, then dumped the remaining seeds into the sieve once again, gave them a quick rinse, and laid them out on some paper towels.
I left them on the paper towels for about a week. If you have more humid climate, this drying process might take a little longer. But once I was certain the seeds were completely dry, I put them into a seed envelope, and labeled them.
Next year I’ll be able to plant a second generation of A & C Pickling Cucumbers, and now you can save cucumber seeds too! I’d love to hear what varieties you’re loving in your garden.