Pumpkin seeds are truly nature’s wonder food. They are full of vitamins and minerals including zinc, iron, magnesium, copper and potassium. Half a cup pumpkin seeds provides us with our daily requirements of magnesium. The health benefits of eating pumpkin seeds are well known. High content of zinc makes them beneficial for prostate. They are also good in fight against the parasites in the intestines, have anti-inflammatory properties and can help lower blood cholesterol too.
Many people buy them and include them in the diet, mostly already peeled, green in colour known as pepitas. However, when cutting pumpkins, the seeds are very often thrown away. In terms of nutrition, it is a waste of real gold. So, how to use and eat them?
How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds
This kent pumpkin in the picture above was cut up and roasted for the warm pumpkin and fennel salad. Whether your pumpkin is destined for pumpkin soup, pie or Halloween, pumpkin seed are usually not needed in the recipe. But don’t throw them away! Roast them and turn the byproduct into a healthy snack. Here is how:
- Separate pumpkin seeds from pulp and remove strings
- This step is optional: place seeds in colander, rinse and pat dry. I don’t wash them, they are more flavoursome with traces of pulp on them.
- Spread seeds on baking tray. No need to add any oil or salt (see note at the end).
- Bake at 190 C (375 F) for 20 min or until golden and crunchy.
- Cool before eating. Delicious!
How to eat roasted pumpkin seeds
Up to this part things are straight forward. But, how to eat roasted pumpkin seeds? You could eat the whole thing with the shell if you like. But pumpkin shells might be a bit tough, preferably it is best to remove them. Doing it by hand takes some time and it’s quite fiddly. The best way to do it is to crack the shell with the teeth (see pictures below). It might sound quite an effort, but it makes perfect sense: while being much more flavoursome than already shelled pepitas, it also slows down the snacking. There’s no way of eating a bowl of toasted pumpkin seeds in the first 15 minutes of the movie :-)!
Speaking of snacks I should mention that roasted pumpkin seeds were our family’s favourite winter time snack. My grandparents have always grown big pumpkins to feed the pigs during the winter, so there was a good supply of seeds, indeed.
Here is the technique that works well with a bit of practice:
Hold a seed like in the picture below.
Gently crack the shell up to the half:
The shell will open and reveal the seed. Just pull it with your teeth or fingers.
It might be frustrating at first, but practice makes perfect :-).
- If you prefer salted pumpkin seeds, sprinkle some salt on damp seeds in the tray just before baking.
- For the spicy pumpkin seeds season them with cayenne pepper, curry or the spice of your choice the same way as above
- To roast the seeds later, rinse, dry and keep in a container till you collect more seeds or have the oven to bake other things
- Larger quantity can be baked at once. Allow longer baking time and mix occasionally.
- Save a few rinsed and dried pumpkin seeds, keep them in the fridge and plant them in spring.