Pumpkins are flavorful, versatile members of the winter squash family, and the seeds are rich in flavor and nutrition. Want to learn about harvesting pumpkin seeds to eat, and what to do with all those seeds after they’re harvested? Read on!
How to Harvest Pumpkin Seeds
Harvest pumpkins any time before the first hard frost in autumn. You’ll know when pumpkins are ready to harvest – the vines will die and turn brown and the pumpkins will be bright orange with a hard rind. Use garden shears or scissors to cut the pumpkin from the vine.
Now that you’ve successfully harvested the ripe pumpkins, it’s time to remove the juicy seeds. Use a sharp, sturdy knife to cut around the top of the pumpkin, then carefully remove the “lid.” Use a large metal spoon to scrape out the seeds and stringy pulp, then put the seeds and pulp in a large bowl of water.
Separating Pumpkin Seeds from Pulp
Use your hands to separate the seeds from the pulp, putting the seeds into a colander as you go. Once they seeds are in the colander, rinse them thoroughly under cool, running water (or hit them with your sink sprayer) while you rub the seeds together with your hands to remove more of the pulp. Don’t worry about getting every single trace of pulp, as the stuff that clings to the seeds only increases the flavor and nutrition.
Once you’ve removed the pulp to your satisfaction, let the seeds drain thoroughly, then spread them in a thin layer on a clean dish towel or a brown paper bag and let them air dry. If you’re in a hurry, you can always use your hair dryer to speed up the process.
Roasting Pumpkin Seeds
Preheat your oven to 275 degrees F. (135 C.). Spread the pumpkin seeds evenly on a cookie sheet, then drizzle them with melted butter or your favorite cooking oil. For extra flavor, you can season the seeds with garlic salt, Worcestershire sauce, lemon pepper, or sea salt. If you’re adventurous, flavor the pumpkin seeds with a mixture of fall seasonings such as cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice or add zing with cayenne pepper, onion salt, or Cajun seasoning.
Roast the seeds until they’re golden brown – usually about 10 to 20 minutes. Stir the seeds every five minutes to keep them from scorching.
Eating Pumpkin Seeds
Now that you’ve done the hard work, it’s time for the reward. It’s perfectly safe (and extremely healthy) to eat the seeds shell and all. If you prefer to eat the seeds without the shell, just eat them like sunflower seeds – pop a seed into your mouth, crack the seeds with your teeth, and discard the shell.
Pumpkin Seed Nutrition
Pumpkin seeds provide Vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, protein, potassium, and healthy plant-based Omega-3 fats. They are filled with Vitamin E and other natural anti-oxidants. Pumpkin seeds are also high in fiber, especially if you eat the shells. An ounce of roasted pumpkin seeds contains about 125 calories, 15 carbs, and no cholesterol.