Alys Fowler

Don't waste your pumpkin seeds at Halloween

Get ready to carve your pumpkins but don't be so quick to throw away the seeds! Read about how you can put those nutritious pips to use.

Pumpkin seeds, as we all know, are not only edible, but also delicious. They are rich in nutrients and a great healthy snack. However, the pumpkin seeds that you get from carving your pumpkin will not look like the sort you buy to sprinkle over your cereal in the morning. That is because the seeds from your carving pumpkin will still have their seed coat or husks on. The seeds you buy from the shops are dehulled; there are a number of pumpkin varieties that are hull-less (sometimes known as naked seed), bred specially for the edible seed market so that their seed coat doesn’t form. The variety ‘Baby Bear’ is one such seed and is well worth growing next year if you like eating pumpkin seeds.

However, what to do with all of this year’s seeds, because it would be a shame to waste all that goodness? You could buy a dehulling machine, but they are very expensive and hardly worth it for a few pumpkins. Or you could roast your own pumpkin seeds.

Roasting pumpkin seeds

Roast pumpkin seeds are delicious and you can get imaginative and coat them with all sorts of lovely things to make a lovely Halloween snack. They are quick and easy to make too. At their simplest, you just clean the seeds up in a colander under running water until all the pumpkin flesh and gunk has been removed and then spread them out on a clean tea towel to get rid of excess moisture.

Then toss them into a bowl with a little sunflower or olive oil or melted butter if you prefer that. They need to be nicely coated rather than dripping in oil. A generous teaspoon of fat is usually enough. Then a scant pinch of sea salt, toss them about again until they are glistening and well coated.

Spread them out on a baking tray and roast in the oven at 180 degrees, until they start to go golden and puff up a little. This usually takes around 4-15 minutes, but sometimes it takes longer particularly if the seeds are big. It’s important to keep an eye on them because once they’re burnt, they’re inedible.

These are great as a snack on their own, but are equally good sprinkled on salads or soups and in an airtight container, will store for a week or two. You can keep them simple or get all fancy and make your roast pumpkin seeds really zing with flavour. Chili flakes or powder, fennel seeds, grated lemon zest, sea salt, soy sauce, honey, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, there are endless variations. Make small batches so you can vary the flavours if you like.

I particularly like honey, soy sauce and chili as one option. Go very easy on the honey, you need just a mere dribble and remember that this batch will toast very quickly with the honey on top.

Likewise, chili flakes, cumin and just a touch of lemon zest also work particularly well.