Yes, you can eat pumpkin seeds or save them for planting in the spring with some preparation. Pepita is the culinary term for pumpkin seed in the Spanish culture. The slightly oval seed is rather flat and light green in color although protected by a white outer hull.
Remove the seeds and pulp from the pumpkin. Clean the pulp off the seeds by placing them in a colander and running water over the top. Separate the seeds from the pulp. Allow the seeds to dry over night or you can use a hairdryer to speed the process. Preheat an oven to 275 degrees. Place the seeds in a single layer on a cookie sheet and coat lightly with vegetable oil. Consider sprinkling the seeds with one or more of the following: garlic salt, worchestershire sauce, lemon pepper, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, salt, cayenne pepper or thyme.
- Additional Roasting Tip: If you plan to eat the seeds with the hulls/shells on, boil them in salt water first before toasting them in the oven.
Pepita is an excellent source of copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium and protein. Moderation should be considered when consuming pumpkin seeds as the calorie count is approximately 550 calories per 100 grams. The seeds contain tryptophan, which is converted into serotonin in the human body. Serotonin is known as a sleep aid. The seeds also contain the anti-oxidant Vitamin E.
Years ago Native American Indians utilized pumpkin seeds for medicinal purposes to treat kidney, bladder and digestive problems. In the late 1800's and early 1900's pumpkin seeds were listed in the U.S. Pharmacopaeia as a therapy for intestinal parasites. Presently, highly preliminary research is being conducted concerning a connection with pumpkin seeds and the treatment of prostate cancer, anxiety disorders, clinical depression, arteriosclerosis and cholesterol.
Saving the Seeds for Planting:
Place the pulp and seeds from a pumpkin in a colander. Hold the colander under running water to wash away the pulp as you remove the seeds. Select the largest seeds to save as they have the best opportunity to germinate. Place the clean seeds in a single layer on a towel to dry for one week in a cool location. The seeds should be placed in a paper envelope inside a plastic storage container in the refrigerator until ready for spring planting.
Halloween Pumpkin Tips:
Select a pumpkin with a long stem. The long stem will slow the rotting process and assure your pumpkin will look good long past Halloween. When you carve the pumpkin, save the seeds for roasting. Left over pumpkins are an excellent addition to the composting bin. Consider painting a design or decoupaging the pumpkin instead of carving. The pumpkin will keep longer.
*Image courtesy of Flickr creative Commons.