This weekend is prime for pumpkin picking and carving. With Halloween just days away, it's time to grab a knife and carve a jack-o-lantern. But what are you supposed to do with all the leftover seeds from inside the pumpkin? The easy option would be to discard or compost them, but don't! They make a delicious snack raw or roasted that you can enjoy for weeks to come.
How to store fresh pumpkin seeds
Once you've completely gutted the pumpkin prior to carving it, ("awww, you didn't tell me you were gonna kill it!"), place the seeds and pulp in a large bowl and fill it completely with water. Using your hands or a fork, stir the pumpkin inners around, allowing the seeds to float to the top of the water. Once most of the seeds have separated from the pulp and floated to the top, use a slotted spoon or spider to remove the seeds from the water and place them in a separate colander. Rinse any remaining pulp from the seeds in the colander with running water. From here, it's time to dry them! Spread the seeds in a single layer out on a dish towel or a few sheets of paper towel and pat them dry to get rid of any excess moisture.
Storing pumpkin seeds
To store raw, pumpkin seeds, you first need to dry them in the oven or a dehydrator. To do so, transfer the cleaned seeds to a sheet tray and bake them in a 250℉ for one hour until they're crispy. Let them cool completely. Then, transfer the dry pumpkin seeds to an airtight container or storage bag. For an airtight, eco-friendly alternative to plastic Ziploc bags, use Stasher bags, which are made from reusable silicone. For a stackable storage solution, our team loves the Mepal Airtight Storage Containers from the Food52 shop, which are not only practical but also look incredibly chic in your pantry. And then there is the always-fan-favorite, the OXO Pop Containers; the 1.1 quart is the perfect size for holding a couple of cups of dry seeds.
How to store roasted pumpkin seeds
Roasting pumpkin seeds is a little different than drying pumpkin seeds in the oven. Roasting pumpkin seeds requires a higher temperature in order to not just dry them out, but to get them super crispy and crunchy too. Roasted pumpkin seeds may be seasoned simply with salt, or with tons of flavor from a combination of brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, vanilla extract, paprika, garlic powder, maple syrup, or black pepper (though certainly not all of them together. That might be a bit much). Once they're roasted and seasoned, store them in one of the aforementioned airtight storage containers or bags.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Makes: 2 cups
- 2 small sugar pumpkins (yielding about 2 cups of seeds)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (the thicker the better)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Cut the pumpkins in half. Scoop seeds and pulp into a large bowl. Cover with water. Stir a bit with your hands. Most of the seeds will float to the top. With a slotted spoon, scoop seeds into a colander. Remove as many of the remaining seeds from the pulp as possible. Discard pulp. Rinse seeds.
- Spread the seeds out on a dishtowel and then blot with a second dishtowel (don't use paper towels or you will be eating roasted paper). It's a bit time-consuming because wet uncooked pumpkin seeds are very sticky. So put on your favorite song, take some deep breaths, and commit to at least 5 minutes of blotting and unsticking.
- Spread dry seeds out on a sheet pan covered with a Silpat or parchment paper. Sprinkle seeds with salt, brown sugar, olive oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Toss with your fingers until seeds are evenly coated.
- Place in the preheated oven. Check after 10 minutes. Stir. Make sure they're cooking evenly. Put back in the oven for a few more minutes. They take about 15 to 20 minutes. But keep an eye on them. They go from a lovely caramelized brown to black very quickly. Allow to cool on the sheet pan. Store in a jar at room temperature. They stay crispy for a few days.