Pumpkin seeds are easily the most delicious part of a pumpkin. It took me awhile to realize that it was well worth the trouble of separating the seeds from the stringy pulp. Before that, I gave the seeds to the pigs or goats, who were very happy to eat them. This is also how my Seminole/Tahitian Melon/Cassaba pumpkin cross came about. Not all the seeds got gobbled up, and the ones that were missed became yearly gardens in the pig pens, laden with beautiful teardrop-shaped tan fruit.
Interestingly, pumpkins were originally grown for their seeds, not their flesh. The seeds are very nutritious, and discourage parasites. There is an open-pollinated pumpkin called Lady Godiva that is selected for hull-less pumpkin seeds, but we always eat the seeds with the hulls on, as is the custom in Mexico. Once they are toasted, the hulls generally cease to be tough and fibrous, and are instead crispy and delightful. These toasted pumpkin seeds taste like really good potato chips, but are filling and healthy!
Often this time of year we eat a grain-free supper – some home-grown meat, a roasted pumpkin or pumpkin soup, some fermented pickles from the garden – and toasted pumpkin seeds, which are a satisfying replacement to any sort of grain accompanying the meal.
First, chop a pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits. Now separate the flesh from the seeds. This is more tedious than difficult, but it is well worth the effort! The remaining pulp is a treat for chickens, goats, cows or pigs. Failing that, it is a treat for the compost, too.
If you are going to save seeds, this is where I select some nice, plump-looking seeds and give them a rinse in a strainer, and set them aside to dry on a plate. I save seeds from every tasty, well-keeping pumpkin in my landrace Seminole/Tahitian Melon/ Cassaba pumpkin Moschata line. The rest of the recipe is as follows:
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
1 pumpkin’s worth of seeds
A drizzle of olive oil, or a spoonful of ghee, lard, rendered chicken fat, etc. are all good for cooking pumpkin seeds
A generous sprinkle of salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (you can use paprika if you want the pepper flavor without the heat)
- Heat a cast iron frying pan until drops of water would sizzle if flicked onto the surface. Add the oil or fat, and then the pumpkin seeds.
- Season the pumpkin seeds with salt and spices, stir briefly.
- Fry seeds until crispy and brown at the edges. Remove with a slotted spoon, and enjoy as soon as they are cool enough to eat.
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