When you’re carving your Halloween jack-o’-lantern this week, don’t forget to save your pumpkin seeds.
Sure, you can use them to grow more pumpkins next year. But they can be as useful in your kitchen as they are in your garden.
When they’re roasted — seasoned in a simple or savory way — pumpkin seeds can serve as a healthy snack.
And with their little husks removed — you can find them in the store, often called pepitas — they make a great green garnish for fall soups, salads and entrees.
They can even find their way into trail and snack mixes.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein, fiber and such minerals as magnesium and zinc.
The Philadelphia Master Gardeners of Penn State Extension add that the seeds contain healthy omega-3 fat.
Roasting pumpkin seeds is easy; all you need is little oil, a little salt and a little time.
But you can add all sorts of spice combinations while roasting to elevate your seedy snack.
Here are recipes for seasoning your pumpkin seeds — with the husks on — and roasting them.
For starters, here’s an easy recipe from our LNP files in 1993, via the International Pumpkin Association.
ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS
• 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil or shortening
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 cups pumpkin seeds
Heat oven to 250 degrees. Wash seeds under warm water in colander.
Mix the seeds, salt and oil in a bowl.
Spread seeds on cookie sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Use spoon to stir seeds from time to time while baking.
These next two recipes come from Penn State Extension Philadelphia Master Gardeners.
SWEET AND SPICY SEEDS
• 1 egg white
• 1/4 cup natural cane sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• A scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grained sea salt
• 1 cup fresh pumpkin seeds
Heat oven to 375 F. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the egg white, sugar, cayenne and salt.
Add the pumpkin seeds and toss well. Drain off any excess egg white (using a strainer) and place seeds in a single layer across a baking sheet.
Bake for about 12 minutes or until seeds are golden. Sprinkle with a bit more sugar and cayenne pepper when they come out of the oven.
Taste and season further if needed..300
For a sweet version of the snack, try these candied seeds.
FANCY CANDIED SEEDS
• 3 cups winter squash seeds
• 2 tablespoons butter, softened, divided
• 1 cup sugar
• 1/2 cup water
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place pumpkin or squash seeds in a shallow baking pan in a 250 F oven for 10 minutes or until warm.
Grease a 15-by-10-by-1-inch baking pan with 1 tablespoon butter; set aside.
Grease the sides of a large heavy saucepan with remaining butter; add sugar, water, salt and cinnamon. Cook and stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved.
Increase heat to medium and stir (at medium heat) until mixture comes to a rolling boil. Do not rush the boiling process by turning the heat up.
Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 2 minutes at a simmer to dissolve sugar crystals.
Remove cover and continue to simmer, without stirring, until a candy thermometer reads 236 F (soft-ball stage). Remove from the heat; add vanilla.
Stir in squash seeds and toss in candy sauce until evenly coated. Use colander to drain excess candy sauce from the seeds.
Spread onto prepared baking pan. Bake at 250 F for 10 to 20 minutes, shaking the seeds in the pan every 5 to 7 minutes until candy coating becomes crispy.
Remove from oven and spread on a wax paper-lined baking sheet to cool.
Serve your pumpkin seeds with Mediterranean flair, with this recipe from
missourifamilies.org, a website operated by Missouri’s agricultural Extension service.
MEDITERRANEAN ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS
• 2 cups fresh pumpkin seeds
• 3 tablespoons dried crushed rosemary
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 tablespoons coarse-grain sea salt
Heat oven to 350 F.
Rinse pumpkin seeds in water and drain on paper towels to dry.
Toss with remaining ingredients and spread on a baking sheet.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until crisp.
Cool. Store in an airtight container.
Here’s a recipe from our LNP archives from 1982.
ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS SNACK
• 2 cups fresh pumpkin seeds, washed, hulled and dried
• 1 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil
• 1 teaspoon salt
• Sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper
• Sprinkling of garlic powder
• Sprinkling of paprika
Heat oven to 300 F. In a small bowl, toss pumpkin seeds in a mixture of peanut oil, salt, black pepper, garlic powder and paprika.
Spread pumpkin seeds out on a cookie sheet and roast until dry and crispy, approximately 30 minutes.
Shake cookie sheet occasionally so seeds will brown evenly.
Seed of an idea
Pumpkin seeds can be used as a substitution in some familiar dishes, say the master gardeners of Penn State Extension Philadelphia.
• If you know someone with an allergy to nuts but not to pumpkin seeds, you can use them instead of pine nuts in your next batch of pesto.
• You also can finely chop your roasted squash seeds and add them to your hummus.
• Pumpkin seeds are good in cookies, cakes and breads in place of nuts. You can top your pies with them or add them to chocolate bark.