So, I decided to ferment some cantaloupe seeds, and since I like lacto-fermenting pickles and stuff, I decided to experiment and mix in a liberal amount of pickling salt (maybe a tablespoonful) and see what would happen (to encourage more LABs and discourage yeasts), but still have an open jar (to encourage faster fermentation). What happened was it still looked clean after a day or two (no mold or noticeable bubbles), but it smelled like vinegar instead of something more smelly. Anyway, I didn't leave them to ferment any longer, but I'm curious what effect if any the absorbed salt in the seeds will have. Has anyone tried mixing salt in with seed ferments, and if so, what happened when you tried to grow the seeds? I don't imagine it's enough salt to stop the seeds from growing if they're alive, since I know plants can tolerate a certain amount of salt, which is evident by the fact that soil amendments such as sea minerals don't tend to kill plants in higher than the recommended doses, unless you use a lot, and blood meal, which is a popular soil amendment, should have a good amount of sodium in it (I could be wrong about it not being too much for seeds), but I don't know if it and/or any vinegar from acetic acid bacteria would have killed the seeds. I understand vinegar is supposed to take a long time to make (so, it's interesting that this cantaloupe solution smelled like vinegar so fast).

Although a lot of people do it (without salt), I normally don't ferment my seeds, for a variety of reasons (I do a different process that involves zapping them in water with a Z4EX for 45 minutes), but I wasn't ready to do what I usually do with those, yet (so, I left them to ferment until I had more time to get to them). I zapped them afterward, anyway, though.

Anyway, I should probably test it out myself, but I'm curious if anyone else has attempted this. At the very least, it seems to possibly make for a more pleasant-looking/smelling ferment (I didn't do it that long, though). If salt doesn't kill the seeds, it should help to inhibit bad microbes, at least (since salt is anti-microbial, although it doesn't seem to bother lactic acid bacteria, which are said to be beneficial both to humans and plants via the soil).

I did rinse the seeds after fermenting them.

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    I don't know the answer, so I'll post a comment. In school we made an experiment, we put tomato, cucumber and bellpepper seeds in different petri dishes on filter paper, every batch containing 50 seeds. Every 2-3 days we sprayed some of the seeds with normal water, some with 0.5% salt solution, some with 1% salt, 2.5 % and 5%. After two weeks, tomatoes germinated only with tap water (48:0:0:0:0), bellpeppers more in water, less in 0.5 % salt, none in the rest (40:24:0:0:0), and surprise - cucumbers more in 0.5% salt solution then in tap water (44:45:6:0:0). I don't know if the size of the ....
    – Alina
    Sep 14, 2017 at 11:11
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    seed mattered more, because tomatoes were the smallest, or if the botanical family did. Some of the tap water batches showed mold, but the salty ones did not, so maybe salt acted like an antiseptic that allowed cucumber seeds to be exposed more time to humidity, increasing the number of germinated seeds. You can aproximate the ratio of salt/water you used with cantaloupes and repeat with different concentrations if you feel like experimenting. I don't know how the seeds will react if kept in salty water, then rinsed, then stored, then germinated.
    – Alina
    Sep 14, 2017 at 11:12
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    Isn't this a question for Seasoned Advice?
    – Niall C.
    Sep 14, 2017 at 13:43
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    @NiallC. This isn't about fermenting for food (although I did reference that as part of my inspiration), but it's about fermenting to improve germination and to remove substances that inhibit germination, which is often done with tomato, watermelon and other kinds of seeds before drying them (although I've never heard of salt being used there). Sep 15, 2017 at 6:24
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    Also, fermenting seeds is said to help against diseases in the seeds. (Salt, according to my hypothesis, should hopefully assist in that, but you never know, as it might inhibit beneficial yeasts or something, which may compete for survival better than lactic acid bacteria.) Sep 15, 2017 at 7:53

1 Answer 1


I discovered some information that I consider a sufficient answer for the present.

Based on this study wherein someone soaked seeds of various kinds in artificial seawater for about a month, and the results reported when they grew them, it appears that there is a high chance that my seeds fermented with salt added for a few days (not a month), and then rinsed off, will still grow (whether or not germination rates and times are impacted to some degree). Another study I read about did conclude that germination rates and times of lentils were negatively impacted by seawater, although some did grow, I believe. However, they weren't soaked in it and rinsed off. All we're worried about is what sodium the seed absorbed (we're not trying to grow it in the presence of lots of salt).

Anyway, this and Alina's quite useful comments are enough to satisfy my curiosity until I actually try it myself (then, I plan to edit my answer with the results).

It should be noted that in the study I linked to, success was better achieved with some species than others (much as Alina mentioned).

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