Delicious Homemade Pumpkin Seeds Straight from the Pumpkin
Pumpkin seeds are a highly nutritious food with many health benefits. You can eat them all year long if you get bags of the hull-less pepitas, but what about eating fresh pumpkin seeds straight from the pumpkin when they’re in season?
It is quite simple to prepare deliciously crunchy yet healthy homemade pumpkin seeds with the low heat frying method recommended ahead. There’s also other ways of eating pumpkin seeds and the best raw pepitas I’ve found for the rest of the year.
Preparing Homemade Pumpkin Seeds
To start you have to get the pumpkin seeds out of the pumpkin. Seeds from smaller pumpkins will usually be a little softer than those from the big Halloween, jack-o’-lantern varieties but most pumpkin breeds can be used. Look for a pumpkin with a bright color, firm stalk and less scarring or discoloration.
Start by settling the pumpkin on a chopping board and carefully cutting down from outside of the stalk with a strong knife facing away from you. Cut right to the base and towards the middle. Turn it around and once again cut from the other side of the stalk and away from you. There’s usually no need to cut through the stalk (which can be tricky). At this point, most will split easily.
Simply scoop out the seeds by hand, stringy bits and all, into a bowl. Depending on what you do with them, you may or may not need to remove the stringy bits, but don’t be afraid of them. Being some of the brightest colored parts of the pumpkin, they’ll be full of antioxidant carotenoids like beta-carotene.
If you’re going to roast the seeds, like most people do, you’ll need to remove the stringy bits and wash them. To dry them, put them on a tea towel (not on a paper towel as many websites advise, unless you want paper coated seeds).
It all seemed like quite a bit of work so I came up with a much simpler way whenever I’m making pumpkin soup or cooking with pumpkins or the equally healthy butternut squash – quickly frying them on a gentle heat for a deliciously crunchy entree.
How to Lightly Fry Pumpkin Seeds for Better Nutrition and Taste
Raw pumpkin seeds are full of essential fatty acids and other nutrition that can be damaged by the prolonged high temperatures used in roasting. Homemade pumpkin seeds do taste good warm though.
Looking for a healthy compromise, I came up with a method to lightly fry them at a temperature low enough to preserve the essential fatty acids and vitamins, while still making them taste great.
Here’s what to do. Start with half a teaspoon of organic virgin coconut oil and heat it on a low temperature in a pan with a lid. The temperature really should be low, just enough to melt the coconut oil.
Coconut oil, by the way, is a very healthy oil to use for cooking and with it’s fat burning medium chain triglycerides is actually good for weight loss.
Once the coconut oil is coating the bottom of the pan, add the pumpkin seeds straight from the pumpkin. Don’t wash them and don’t worry about a few stringy bits. They are very good for you and add a bit of flavor.
Swirl them in the pan to coat them in the coconut oil and put the lid on so they are just gently frying on a low heat, with the covered pan slightly steaming them as well. Don’t leave them for too long. You definitely don’t want them turning brown.
After about a minute and a half and the occasional swirl or shake of the pan, you can add a little flavoring. My favorite is a small dash of tamari swirled in and then coated with a teaspoon of extremely healthy turmeric.
Other good options are crushed garlic, a dusting of curry powder or chili, and even cinnamon and a little honey for a sweeter option. Lightly fry for a further thirty seconds, then serve and eat straight away for an amazing taste.
While this method does soften up the seeds quite a bit, occasionally you will get a couple that are a bit chewy. This is usually with the seeds from the larger pumpkins. The choice is yours, but it’s fine to swallow the shells. They are just good digestive fiber.
Of course raw is still the healthiest way to eat homemade pumpkin seeds. There is no reason at all to not have them straight from the pumpkin without cooking and just chew the shells a bit longer for the extra fiber.
Still, if it’s a choice between roasting and this low heat frying method, I believe this is the healthier and better tasting option for how to eat pumpkin seeds.
If you are not a fan of chewing the hulls, you can still make up this recipe with a bag of hulled pumpkin seeds, like these raw, organic and American grown seeds with very positive reviews. Just halve the cooking time and keep the temperature low.
Made like this, these lightly fried pumpkin seeds are great sprinkled directly over salads and make a tasty accompaniment to steamed vegetables. Let me know what you think of them if you make them up yourself.
More Ways to Eat Pumpkin Seeds
Given the many and varied pumpkin seed benefits for your health, it’s well worth looking at ways to eat them more often.
A big bag of raw pumpkin seeds sealed well and stored in a dark cupboard will stay fresh for months. They make a healthy and surprisingly versatile recipe ingredient or an easy snack that really fills you up and can save you from reaching for a bag of unhealthy crisps or other junk food.
If you make your own muesli then these superfood seeds are great addition to it as well. For a simple muesli I like to make, start with organic rolled oats as a base, then add pumpkin seeds, crushed cashews, organic walnuts, oat bran and desiccated coconut. This homemade muesli is far better than any I’ve ever found at the supermarket.
As mentioned above, a handful of pumpkin seeds, either warmed or straight from the bag, goes well with steamed veggies and is a great addition sprinkled over the top of most salads.
They also enhance many rice and pasta dishes, particularly chicken and salmon based meals. Add them to the sauce or cooking poultry or fish just near the end to preserve their many important health nutrients. The high protein content makes them a particularly good addition to vegetarian meals as well.
For something a little special try extra large heirloom Styrian pumpkin seeds. These are considered the king of pepitas and while not cheap they are the best.
For much more on just how good for you pumpkin seeds are and why it’s worth eating more of them, see this page on their many nutritional benefits and why they’re such a healthy snack for losing weight.
Photo 1 credit with thanks: Claire P.
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