So you spent the weekend carving mere pumpkin squash into festive jack-o-lanterns, ready to light the way to the sugary prize behind door number 1. And now the practical (and dare I say, fun…) side of your brain is like, “Wait! I’ve got all these seeds, and I can’t put them to waste!” And then the killjoy side of your brain is all, “No! That takes too much time…Why don’t I just buy them if I really want them?”
So here’s a quick run down of why you don’t want to merely toss those seeds in a pile of garbage (or, God forbid, the compost heap – squash plants everywhere next season!):
An average sized pumpkin can give you around 500 seeds, that according to visualnews.com
And at an average cost of $2.50 for 2 ounces of gourmet roasted pumpkin seeds, my guess (and I am not a mathematician, folks) is that you can save approximately $10.00 per pumpkin simply by roasting your own. And while maybe you wouldn’t run out and buy that many roasted pumpkin seeds, you would have to buy other snacks, so the point is still valid.
Oh, what was the point again?
The point being: HOW STUPID TO JUST THROW AWAY PERFECTLY GOOD PUMPKIN SEEDS!
So here’s a quick tutorial (in 3 acts) on how to roast pumpkin seeds.
ACT 1: PROCURING THE SEEDS
Step 1: Scoop the seeds from the pumpkin and set them aside while happily carving your jack-o-lanterns.
Step 2: Put your bowl of pumpkin seeds + stringy gooey pulp into your kitchen sink and fill the bowl with water, spraying the seeds vigorously as you fill the bowl. Similar to the method I outlined in How to Open a Pomegranate, seeds are heavier than pith. So the seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl, while the pith will rise to the top, where you can scoop it out until only seeds remain. I’m not going to minimize this, pumpkin seeds are much slippier than pomegranate seeds, so it’s still a task, but much less of a task than picking the seeds one by one from the ooey gooey pumpkin slime.
Step 3: Strain water from seeds.
ACT 2: PREPPING THE SEEDS
Note: There’s a little tiny pumpkin seed inside the seed shell. Good luck to those of you patient enough to pick them all out. You are a better pumpkin seed roaster than I! My recommendation: Eat the seeds, casing and all. Sugar pumpkins have smaller, softer outer seeds, but all pumpkin seeds will benefit from boiling in salted water, to both soften and help draw the moisture from the seed, leading to that pleasing crunch.
Step 4: Measure your seeds and combine 2 cups of water with 1 tablespoon of salt for every half cup of seeds. Bring to a boil over high heat. After the water reaches a boil, turn the heat down and let the seeds simmer for 10 minutes. NOTE: If you plan to add salt to your roasted pumpkin seed recipe, you might want to adjust the amount of salt when boiling.
Step 5: Drain and gently blot seeds with paper towels until the paper towels no longer show wetness.
Step 6: Cover as many cookie trays as necessary with wax paper and cover with a single layer of pumpkin seeds; let dry overnight. Note: Do not use paper towels in place of wax paper. The seeds will stick to the paper towel once they’ve dried.
ACT 3: ROASTING THE SEEDS
Step 7: Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Step 8: Toss seeds with ingredients from recipe (see below)
Step 9: Spread seeds in a single layer on a roasting pan and roast for approximately 45 minutes.
Note: You can roast the seeds less time at a higher temperature, but I prefer the slow roasted method, which makes the seeds crunchier in my estimation. Store seeds in an airtight container after they’ve cooled.
Roasted Pumpkin Seed Recipes:
Mix the following ingredients in a bowl and toss seeds to coat:
Healthy Classic: 2 cups pumpkin seeds, 2 TBSP olive oil, pinch of salt
Kettle Korn: 2 cups pumpkin seeds, 1/4 cup melted butter, 2 TBSP sugar, pinch of salt (optional: pinch of cinammon or nutmeg)
Spicy: 2 cups pumpkin seeds, 3 TBSP olive oil, 1 TBSP chili powder, 1 tsp cayenne, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce, salt to taste