We had originally purchased a pumpkin several weeks ago and opened it up to find it completely rotted inside. We glanced at pumpkin stands here and there, but I have an aversion to spending $15 on a pumpkin that can be purchased at the grocery store for $4. I had resigned myself to no pumpkin or seeds this year, when Mr.JustAddCloth came home with four small pumpkins given to him by coworkers. Apparently someone grew a few in their yard and had a surplus. So, Mr.JAC scooped and cleaned the seeds and we set them to soak.
I see quite a few variations of roasted pumpkin seed recipes floating around and most of them make little sense to me. Especially when my approach has always been as simple as it gets and people ask me my secret to great pumpkin seeds. Secret?
Um, here you go.
Scoop and clean seeds. Place them in a glass bowl. Sprinkle liberally with salt. Any salt will do. Sea salt, Himalayan salt, fancy pink salt, or just plain table salt will make them delicious. Add cold water to the bowl until the seeds are barely covered. Leave the seeds to soak in the salt water for 24 hours.
Drain the salt water. Then spread them out on a baking sheet. Any baking surface works fine. I do not dry them. They stick to the towel and it makes more work than it is worth. They can sit on the baking sheet for several hours until you are ready to turn on the oven. I was making homemade pizza later this day, so I waited until evening to toast the seeds.
Turn the oven on to 350 degrees and place the seeds on an upper rack. It generally takes a good hour. Since the seeds are damp, they will create a bit of steam for about 30 minutes. They are ready to come out when they are an even brown.If the brown is only along the edges of the seeds, they will be too chewy. In our household, we like them toasted right to almost burning. They come out very crispy, with a deep nutty flavor. No oils, no added seasonings or flavors.
The pumpkin seeds you can purchase at the store are just not the same. For one, they are really large, which is just odd. Also, they are very undercooked. Putting them in the oven to finish roasting does not work very well.
Luckily pumpkins are easy to grow and easy to find in the Autumn season up here. All of the winter squash seeds can be roasted in the same manner and come out relatively the same. My son loves butternut squash, so we enjoy those seeds quite a bit in Fall. You can store your whole squash and pumpkins for several months in a dry, cool place. Although, I would not let them sit longer than three months or the taste is compromised. They can still be eaten at six months, but the flavour is not nearly as good.
So there you go. The simple way to enjoy the seeds without covering up their natural flavour. No olive oil or garlic need apply.