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Old August 21, 2016   #7
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 276

The methods in the original post are basically the same as the ones I use. I allow one of the first cucumbers on each plant to ripen... provided that the plants are healthy, this does not stop production. Those ripe cucumbers are picked either before frost (and brought indoors to ripen further), or if they begin to show signs of decay.

The "begin to decay" is my trigger to remove the seeds, regardless of whether that stage was before or after harvest. The advantage of waiting that long is that there is a great deal of juice with the seeds, so no additional water is needed. The fermentation stage is pretty much the same as it would be for tomatoes, although it may take a little longer. Watch for the gel sacs to begin breaking loose from the seeds, at which time the seeds are ready to process.

Cleaning the seeds is not much different from cleaning tomato seeds (adding the fermentation to a tall container of water, allowing the good seeds to sink, and carefully pouring off the floating debris) - with one exception. Some of the good seeds may still have stubborn gel sacs attached, which will hold air bubbles & make them float at the top along with the debris. I beat the floating seeds vigorously with a wire whisk, which breaks the membranes & allows the good seed to sink. Without this step, a lot of good seed might be thrown away.

When the seeds are clean, I first spread them out on newsprint to wick away excess moisture, stirring them frequently to avoid sticking. Once the seeds are dry to the touch, I transfer them to trays to finish drying. As mentioned in the OP, the seeds breaking when bent is a fairly good indicator that the seeds are dry. In my Northern location, once the heater begins running & indoor humidity drops, the seeds will reach proper dryness for storage.

The same method can be used for Mexican Sour Gherkins & West Indian Gherkins. In the case of MSG, I just slice the ripe fruits in half, mash them, and allow the mash to ferment.

Cucumber seeds have incredible longevity; if properly processed & stored, they can have good germination for 5-10 years, even at room temperature. The cucumbers I planted this year had 100% germination, from 8-year-old seed.
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