How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds (Plus Health Benefits)
Pumpkin: Not Just for Pies
Jerry, my husband, has a pretty nice-sized garden in our backyard. He is growing several types of squash: zucchini, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, yellow crookneck squash, and pumpkin.
I love pumpkin seeds—I eat them almost every day—and sometimes more than once a day! When I saw the seeds from the acorn squash, I thought, "Those look exactly like pumpkin seeds; they probably taste the same, too."
To find out more about using acorn squash for pumpkin seeds, I got on my laptop and searched online. I found that many people use different types of squash seeds like pumpkin seeds, just nobody ever told me. Good thing I am curious.
I asked Jerry to save the seeds for me so I could try my hand at roasting them. I found several different articles with instructions for roasting the seeds, and I ended up using (what I consider) the best method for roasting pumpkin/squash seeds.
You can follow these instructions easily, as they are written in steps. Also, I provided a couple of photo collages of the pumpkin seeds in various stages of the roasting process.
Like many things we have to do in a particular order, pumpkin seed roasting is a process. I think of it as an experiment, so every time I roast seeds I want the batch to show some improvement.
Have fun with your children or grandchildren (or both), and make roasting pumpkin seeds a family event. Kids love cooking experiments! They will remember this event for many years since not everyone takes the time to roast their own pumpkin seeds.
Preparation Time and Cook Time
Roasting pumpkin seeds is difficult to place a time on. Each step takes a little time, and there are circumstances, like allowing the seeds to dry (2 times in this recipe) that are difficult to get an exact time on.
When I roast my seeds I take my time, but I can finish the whole process within a day if I start early in the morning. Remember, you have to allow for soaking time which is at least 8 hours; some people soak their seeds for up to 48 hours! The longer you allow the pumpkin seeds to soak, the better they will absorb the salt (which makes them tastier).
Ingredients and Utensils
- Pumpkin seeds, raw
- 1 or 2 teaspoons olive oil, extra virgin cold pressed
- 1 Tablespoon salt (sea salt or iodized)
- Table salt
- Small bowl
- Cookie sheet
- Small terry cloth or paper towels
- Spatula or spoon, large (for turning seeds)
- First, you need to carve your pumpkin as usual by cutting a circle around the stem and removing the “top”. Now there is room to stick your hand inside and clean the pumpkin by removing the seeds and pulpy membrane they are attached to. Collect all the stuff in the middle of the pumpkin that you would normally throw away and put it all into a large bowl.
- Add enough water to the bowl to cover the seeds and pulp, and then use your fingers to separate the seeds from the pulp; keep the seeds, throw the pulp away. (I do this step with the bowl in the sink.)
- After separating the pulp from the seeds, rinse the seeds off in a colander. Spread the pumpkin seeds out on a cookie sheet lined with a paper towel to let them dry. Spread the seeds out in one layer, so they can dry well.
- Put the cookie sheet in the sun (indoors or outdoors) to allow the pumpkin seeds to dry. The seeds need to dry thoroughly.
- Once they are dry, you need to soak them in a salt water solution consisting of: 1 tablespoon salt and enough water to cover the seeds. (I know this seems strange to let the seeds dry only to soak them, but this is how it is done.)
- Allow the seeds to soak from 8 to 24 hours. [Or see Optional directions at Step 14.]
- After the seeds are finished soaking, drain the water from them. Lay them out on the cookie sheet again, and allow them to air dry. (A paper towel or a small terry cloth towel is good for this.)
- When the pumpkin seeds are totally dry, put them in a small bowl and mix them with 1 teaspoon olive oil and sea salt (or sprinkle whatever you like on them). Stir the seeds well to coat them evenly.
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (148 degrees Celsius).
- Now, get out your cookie sheet and prepare to roast. Spread the seasoned pumpkin seeds out in one layer, if possible. Bake the pumpkin seeds at 300 F (148 C) for 15-20 minutes; turn them over every 5 minutes so they do not burn. When they are done they will be crisp, but not burnt.
- Enjoy your home-roasted pumpkin seeds just as they are or add them to salads for a tasty nutritional boost (but you’ll have to shell them first!).
- After roasting your pumpkin seeds, store them in an airtight container and keep them in a cool, dry place (not the refrigerator). Use them up as soon as possible!
- You can also roast pumpkin seeds in a frying pan or wok, but you must constantly stir the seeds to avoid burning them; use a medium-low flame for roasting this way.
- Optional: Instead of just soaking the pumpkin seeds, I read some people measure the number of seeds they have to determine the amount of salt to add to the water. For instance, for every 1/2 cup of seeds use 2 cups of water + 1 tablespoon of salt.
Pumpkin and Pumpkin Seed History
- Archeologists believe pumpkins originated in North or Central America because squash seeds were found in Mexico that were dated to between 5500-7000 B.C.
- Pumpkins were named "isqoutm squash" by the Native Americans.
- "Cucurbita pepo" is the scientific name for pumpkin.
- Pumpkins belong to the gourd family,"Curcurbitaceae"; this includes all varieties of squash and cucumbers.
- Pumpkin strips were dried and woven into mats by Native Americans.
- Native Americans used pumpkins to make pie crust, instead of pie.
- Native Americans also used pumpkin flowers for food in their cooking.
- Pumpkin has been used as medicine for many ailments all through history.
- Christopher Columbus brought pumpkin seeds back when he returned to Europe.
- The fairy tale, "Cinderella" written in the 17th century, was the first to use the word "pumpkin" in print.
Fun Facts about Pumpkin Seeds
I always find trivia facts interesting, so I gathered some about pumpkin seeds.
- Native Americans were first to use pumpkins and pumpkin seeds, both as food and medicine.
- Pumpkin seeds were very popular in ancient Greece.
- Are the only nut or seed that is alkaline-forming (which helps our bodies maintain homeostasis).
- As pumpkin seeds age (decompose) their nutritional value increases; there are very few foods that do this. The Massachusetts Experimental Station conducted tests that showed squash seeds (including pumpkin) stored over 5 months increased their protein content significantly.
Nutrient Table for 1/4 Cup of Pumpkin Seeds
% Daily Value
|Serving size: 1/4 cup (in shell)|
|Calories from Fat||144|
|% Daily Value *|
|Fat 16 g||25%|
|Saturated fat 3 g||15%|
|Unsaturated fat 7 g|
|Carbohydrates 6 g||2%|
|Sugar 0 g|
|Fiber 1 g||4%|
|Protein 8 g||16%|
|Cholesterol 0 mg|
|Sodium 6 mg|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.|
Nutrients and Health Benefits
Pumpkin seeds are very nutritious; they have many vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that work with our bodies to keep us healthy. Some of these phytochemicals actually prevent some illnesses from occurring.
The following is a list of the nutrients pumpkin seeds contain.
- Amino-acid L-tryptophan: In the body, L-tryptophan changes into serotonin and then changes into melatonin. Serotonin calms depression and is also helpful for sleep.
- Phytosterols: Plant chemical compounds (phytochemicals) proven to lower LDL cholesterol levels.
- Vitamin B: Excellent source of the entire B-vitamin group (folates, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, riboflavin, and thiamin).
- Vitamin E: Per 100g pumpkin seeds have 35.10mcg of tocopherol; they are a fair source of Vitamin E but may offer more benefits than we know of because of the various types of vitamin E in present in pumpkin seeds.
- Copper: Pumpkin seeds are a very good source of copper.
- Iron: Needed for the production of red blood cells. One serving of pumpkin seeds provides about 15% of the RDA.
- Magnesium: 1/4 cup serving of pumpkin seeds supplies us with almost half our daily requirement for magnesium, which is needed for DNA and RNA synthesizing and also for creating ATP (adenosine triphosphate). ATP is needed for the beating of our heart, bone formation (including teeth), proper bowel function, and blood vessel relaxation.
- Manganese: Are a very good source of manganese, supplying 74% of our RDA.
- Phosphorous: Pumpkin seeds are also a very good source of phosphorus; we get 57% from one 1/4 cup serving.
- Magnesium: 1/4 cup of seeds provides 48% of the RDA for magnesium.
- Zinc: Pumpkin seeds have over 2.5mg of zinc per ¼ cup serving; this is good protection from osteoporosis. Studies prove that low rates of dietary zinc are linked with osteoporosis.
- Omega-3 oils: Pumpkin seeds (as all nuts and seeds) are a very good source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, like linolenic acid (ALA).
- Protein: Pumpkin seeds are a good quality source of protein. They offer 30g of protein per 100g.
- Pumpkin seeds prevent calcium oxalate formation of kidney stones.
- Have anti-inflammatory properties, and are used to reduce the inflammation of arthritis --without the side-effects of prescription medications.
- Historically used in various cultures to treat against parasites, including tapeworms.
- It improves prostate health and difficult urination caused by its enlargement.
- Doctors agree that using both pumpkin seeds and their oil (in supplement form) plus saw palmetto for improving prostate issues.
- The pumpkin seed oil has phytoestrogens that can raise the levels of good cholesterol (HDL), reduce blood pressure, reduce “hot flashes” (in menopausal women), reduce headaches, lessen joint pain, and more.
- The antioxidants, fiber, and fats in pumpkin seeds are good for the heart and liver.
- Animal research suggests ingesting pumpkin seeds can help insulin regulation and other diabetes-related problems by reducing oxidative stress.
- Pumpkin seed extract (supplement) supports bladder function and helps alleviate symptoms of an overactive bladder in men and women.
- Their Phytosterols (plant chemicals) from pumpkin seeds are highly concentrated and are known to prevent cholesterol absorption (small intestine) which results in lower LDL levels.
- They contain the 3rd highest concentration of Phytosterols of all nuts and seeds eaten for snacks.
- HDL levels of cholesterol are boosted when LDL is reduced and is associated with decreased incidence of heart disease.
Useful Links for More Information
- Pumpkin seeds nutrition facts and health benefits
Pumpkin seeds, also popular as Pepita, are an excellent snack to add to your diet. In fact, the seeds are packed with anti-oxidants, dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals and many health-promoting amino acids such as tryptophan and glutamic acid...Re
- How To Roast Perfect Pumpkin Seeds; Easy, Crunchy, Addictive! — Oh She Glows
The first time I roasted pumpkin seeds, I burned the crap out of them. It was heart-breaking, especially since I wasn’t convinced it was even worth the effort in the first place. All that seed cleaning and pumpkin de-stringing –
- Pumpkin Nook 2015 pumpkins, growing, seeds, facts, history, Halloween, recipes, carving
Pumpkin Nook 2015 giant pumpkins, growing, carving, recipes, seeds, Halloween Festivals, Thanksgiving
© 2015 Miriam Parker