This summer I grew some amazing heirloom cucumbers and I was interested in saving cucumber seeds. The cucumber seeds were called Athens and they were true to their description. About 9 inches long, this uniformly slender slicer has smooth, deep dark green skin, dense, firm, crisp flesh and a small seed cavity. Very productive over a long season on vines that want support.
There was one cucumber that didn’t get picked while we were away so I let it stay on the vine. Cucumbers that are being saved for seed must be grown to full maturity and allowed to ripen past the edible stage. The cucumber will be large and beginning to soften. Depending on the variety the fruits may change from green to white or deep yellow or orange. My cucumber was soft and yellow!
Carefully cut open the cucumber and scoop the seeds into a large bowl. Each cucumber seed is encased in a gelatinous sack that is most easily removed by fermenting the seeds. Add about as much water as seeds but not too much or fermentation will be slowed. Set the bowl away from sunlight in a protected location to ferment. Depending on the temperature, fermentation will take from one to three days. During this time the aromas coming from the bowl will be less than pleasant and some mold may form over the top of the mixture. Stir the mass twice a day. Fermentation is complete when most of the seeds have settled to the bottom of the bowl and the seedcases are floating on top of the mixture.
Stir the mass while adding as much water as possible, this allows the clean seeds to settle to the bottom. The debris and hollow seeds will float and can be gently poured off with the excess water. Repeat this procedure until only clean seeds remain.
Pour the clean seeds into a strainer, wipe the bottom of the strainer with a paper towel to remove as much moisture as possible and dump the seeds on a cookie sheet or other non- stick surface. Allow the seeds to dry. Cucumber seed will remain viable for ten years when stored under ideal conditions. Saving cucumber seeds is quite easy and now I now I will have seeds to plant next year.