How to Harvest and Dry Seed

Those of you that caught my Harvesting Mustard post over at Making Lemonade will remember a few of these photos, but I wanted to share here as a basic guide to growing, saving and preserving your own seed.  This method works for just about any seed from mustard to coriander to poppy seed and caraway!  First things first -- let those plants BOLT!  They look ugly, but to make seed, they need to stop the growth process, get brown and ugly and shrivel up.

Collect your bunches of plants, seedpods intact and haul them up to the porch to dry a little further.  
I use our DIY dehydrator, but hanging them from the rafters of a dry barn or porch works just as well!

If you are working in a smaller space, you can snip off the seedpods (see that little brown bugger in my hand there?) and let them dry on a flat screen or VERY dry glass bowl.  The seedpods will pop right open with a little pressure from your thumb when they are "ripe".

When you get to that point, you are ready to seperate the seed from the chaff!  Crack open the pods into a bowl of water, allowing the seeds to drop to the bottom and the other bits to float to the top.

Skim the little bits off the top, then pour through a towel lined colander.

You might have to do this one or two times to get the seeds seperated, but it is easy work while you are waiting for the pasta water to boil on the stove.  Once the seeds are sepererated, let them dry a little while longer until they rattle around freely in a glass jar.  (I stick ours in our DIY dehydrator for a few hours).

The next step?  
  • Grind your seeds for powdered spices (mustard, cumin, etc.)
  • Dry them for planting NEXT year
  • Dry them to use in a spice grinder as you cook
  • Add them to pickling liquids, vinegars and flavored oils (like THESE!)

Want to learn more?

What can YOU do with a bundle of seeds?

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