Drying chili seeds
Seeds of especially beautiful chillies should be saved for next year. To preserve fresh chilli seeds, they are first dried. If the seeds are dried carefully, they can germinate for at least two years. After that the germination rate drops slightly year after year.
If you plant fresh chili seeds immediately, it is not necessary to dry them first. Only if you want to save them for the next season, chili seeds will be dried better and thus preserved.
When drying chilli seeds, it is important to remove moisture slowly. If the seed remains moist, without sun and warmth, it will gradually start to decompose or go mouldy. It is ideal if 8% moisture is present after the chili seed has dried.
To obtain fresh chilli seeds, first put on disposable gloves. Capsaicin has the highest concentration in the tissue that forms seeds. Take ripe chilies. Cut the chillies in half and scrape the seeds out with your fingernail. Scatter the seeds on paper. Blotting paper or typewriter paper are suitable.
Spread the chili seeds evenly on the paper and place it in a place where there is a high air circulation. The place should also be dark, at least not in direct sunlight. In the next few days, change the paper from time to time and turn the grains as you do so.
To keep the germination rate of the seeds as high as possible, you should pay attention to this:
- Spread generously on paper
- Uniform temperature between 20 - 30 °C
- Good air circulation
- No sunlight
You can also dry the seeds in the oven or dehydrator. Remember that the temperature should not exceed 35°C. At 43 °C protein is destroyed and at this temperature the seed loses its ability to germinate. While a dehydrator is a good help in preserving chillies, you should think twice about the idea of the oven.
In a drying device you can better dry the halved chillies. Bags for tea or coffee filters are suitable for storing dried chillies.
If you try to bend individual seeds, if you succeed, the chilli seeds are not yet dry enough. If individual chilli seeds discolour, sort them out.
Label film cans or small bags with the chillies. Fill them with the seeds and a few grains of rice. This keeps the moisture in the airtight bag low. You can store the seeds in a drawer for several years. The longer they are stored, the lower the germination rate. In many chillies there are more than 100 grains. You will probably get over a 75% germination rate.
So far we have stored our chili seed grains in a wooden box. Each variety is individually packed in pressure sealed bags. These were labelled with the name of the variety, how well the chili has carried and the year. Perhaps you would like to keep a record of each chili: Harvest yields, location, pungency, suspected pollination. Essential for professional breeding.
Dried chili seeds can be exchanged, given away and used for your own cultivation in the following years.