How to Thresh and Winnow Beans and Peas
1. Harvest pods when they are dry and brittle. Threshing involves applying force to the dry pods in order to liberate seeds. Do it by hand or stuff a pillowcase with Beans or Peas and stomp on it or put it in the dryer with a shoe with the setting on Air (no heat).
2. Once the pods have been threshed, pour the seeds and chaff into a bucket. Most of the seeds will fall to the bottom allowing you to remove lots of the chaff by hand from the top.
3. Winnowing relies on the weight of the seeds and the lightness of the chaff. You can use a stiff breeze or an electric fan. Set the fan on top of a table and pour the seeds and chaff out in front of the fan’s breeze into another bucket. The seeds will fall straight down while the chaff will be blown to the side.
4. This will take several passes. Store seeds somewhere cool, dry and dark for the winter to plant in the spring, or cook and eat right away.
How to Save Lettuce Seeds
1. Let your lettuce plants grow well past when you would have eaten them. Seed is harvested after the plant “bolts” (sends up a flower stalk), flowers, sets seed, and dries. Lettuce seeds are ready for harvest 2 to 3 weeks after the flowers bloom.
2. Lettuce seeds are very small, and can be harvested by shaking the seed heads into a paper bag. Or leave the plants in the ground and harvest weekly as new seeds mature. Once the lettuce seed heads are almost totally dry, pull the entire plant and hang upside-down over a paper bag.
3. Use a fine mesh screen to clean lettuce seeds that will allow the seeds to pass but will restrict the larger chaff. Or rub them against a rough paper plate. The chaff will stick while the seeds fall free.
How to Save Tomato Seed
1. One variety at a time, cut tomato open and squeeze the pulp, juice and seeds into a glass or plastic container.
2. Add some water and as it sits, the fermentation will break down the gelatinous sack that encloses the seeds. This may take up to 3 or 4 days. Stir or shake every day or two.
3. After the seeds are released, the viable ones will sink to the bottom of the jar. Pour off or decant all the pulp and bad seeds from the top layer. Then pour the good seeds through a kitchen strainer and rinse well to remove any bits of tomato flesh that remain.
4. Spread the seeds out to dry on a coffee filter or paper plate. Keep them out of direct sunlight with good air circulation. It is best to continue drying them for two to three weeks. Then store in a sealed plastic or glass container in a cool, dark and dry location.