Organic Gardening, Sept/Oct 1992
These Seeds Need Some Extra Time on the Vine
by Suzanne Ashworth
Eggplants, cucumbers and summer squash must ripen beyond the normal, ready-to-eat stage to allow viable seeds to develop inside. To save the seeds of eggplants, you'll need to wait until the fruits are far past the stage when you'd pick them for kitchen purposes. Seeds saved from table-ready eggplants will be immature. Left on the plant, purple eggplant varieties will ripen to a dull brownish color, green varieties will turn yellowish green, and white becomes golden. Eggplants ready for seed saving will be dull, off-colored and hard.
Cut the ripe eggplants in half and pull the flesh away from the seeded areas. If you want to save more than a few seeds, a food processor or blender comes in handy to mash the flesh and expose the seeds. Process (without peeling), and put the pulp in a bowl. Add water, let the good seeds settle, then pour off the water and debris. Repeat until only clean seeds remain. Add a bit more water and pour the mix through a strainer with a mesh fine enough to retain these tiny seeds. Dry the bottom of the strainer with a towel to absorb excess moisture and dump the seeds out onto a plate to dry.
After cucumbers ripen, they change color and start to become mushy. (Remember, if you stop picking cucumbers, their vines will stop producing new fruit, so you may want to pick your seed-savers toward the end of the season.) Cut the ripe cucumber in half and scrape the seeds into a bowl. To remove their slimy coating, rub them gently around the inside of a sieve while washing them or soak them in water for two days. Rinse and dry. You'll need to let summer squash ripen past the tender stage, too. When you can't dent the squash with a fingernail, it's ready to have its seed saved. Pick it, cut it open, scrape the seeds into a bowl, wash, drain and dry.