How to Make Tasty Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds can be tasty treats whether or not you’re into the Halloween scene. There are many different recipes out there for making pumpkin seeds, but this one is pretty basic: Pumpkin seeds and salt. Now, before you say, "Um, duh!” keep in mind, it’s not just the ingredients that matter—it’s the way they’re prepared.
The Personal Touch
I make several batches of pumpkin seeds each year—my friends are always asking me for "early Christmas presents!" If our vine garden has had a good pumpkin season (large fruits without any bugs), I'll harvest a few for my seed batches. You don't have to grow your own pumpkins to reap the seeds, though. Just visit your nearest pumpkin patch or grocery store.
What You'll Need
- Cookie sheets
- Aluminum foil
- Coarse kosher salt or small-grained kosher salt
Step 1: Choose Your Pumpkins
First, decide on how many seeds you want to end up with (but keep in mind that you will lose some in the cleaning process). Head to the nearest pumpkin patch or grocery store and choose a pumpkin or two or three or more. Pumpkin seed sizes sometimes depend on the size of the pumpkins, but not always. The smaller the pumpkin does not necessarily mean it will have small seeds, and large pumpkins don’t always have big seeds.
Step 2: Remove the Seeds
Open the pumpkins and clear out the insides with a knife, scraper or ice cream scooper. Set the pumpkins aside if you plan to use them for baking or carving. Remove the seeds from the orange, stringy pumpkin goop stuff (is there a technical name for this?) and wash them through a strainer.
Step 3: Salt the Seeds
Layer a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and then add small-grained or coarse kosher salt, sprinkling it all around the bottom. Pour the wet pumpkin seeds on top of the layer of salt, spread them out, and then thickly cover them with salt. If you have a lot of seeds, use more than one cookie sheet.
Step 4: Dry the Seeds
The seeds must dry with the salt on them; the process could take a day or two. Put the cookie sheet(s) in a cool, dry place; if you cover the sheets, make sure that sufficient air can flow to the seeds. Check on the seeds around the same time, the next day. If they’re not completely dry, stir them around and let them sit for another day.
Step 5: Roast the Seeds
When the seeds are dry, preheat the oven for 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the cookie sheets in the heated oven for about 20 minutes, and then check on the seeds. Take a fork and stir them around some, and then put them back in the oven. Pay attention now, because watching, smelling and tasting the baked seeds will give you an indication of whether or not they are done. Periodically, open the oven door, take your fork and stir them around. Note the color as they bake; the seeds will take on a light-tan, ecru shade. Take a few of them out of the oven and rub off the salt. Let these cool and then taste them.
If the seeds are tan, crispy, and have a “roasted taste,” then remove them from the oven. If the seeds are a little rubbery or chewy and have a “raw” taste, then bake them a little longer. You might hear a “cracking” sound which means some of the seeds are over-cooking, that isn’t something to worry about because every batch has a few.
When the seeds are done, remove them from the oven and set them to cool. When they are completely cool, get out your strainer; it is time to remove the salt.
If you are baking more than one tray, do them separately until you determine how long to bake the seeds. The average time is 30 to 45 minutes, depending on how hot your oven gets and how crispy the seeds get. During the cooking process, watch them, smell them and taste them.
Removing the Salt
Small-grained kosher salt is a little easier to sift off of the seeds, but coarse salt can be easily removed as well. Get your strainer and stand over the kitchen sink (be sure the sink is dry) or a large trash bag. With clean or plastic-gloved hands, break off the big clumps of salt and then rub the seeds into the strainer so that the salt pours through the holes. Not all of the salt has to be removed; it will depend on your taste preference. The seed shells will taste salty after the salt grains are removed.
Store the seeds in a dry, tightly sealed container.
Questions & Answers
© 2011 Teri Silver