Why You Need to Shell Your Pumpkin Seeds and 7 Ways to Use Them Once You Do
'Tis officially pumpkin season (if you haven't noticed), and it seems like everyone is on a mission to carve prize-worthy, Instagrammable masterpieces. Seriously, is your news feed overwhelmed with bright orange gourds too, or am I just social media attracted to pumpkin-loving people?
Naturally, pumpkin-everything has been one of the common topics of staff meetings lately, and yesterday we found ourselves in the midst of a passionate debate. Over what? School lunches? Food waste? World hunger? Nope. (Don't worry, we have deliberated over those, too).
We found ourselves wrapped up in all sorts of confusion over pumpkin seeds.
Several staff members passionately purported the [common Internet] claim that you can eat the seeds inside of your jack-o'-lantern pumpkin simply by cleaning them, seasoning them, and roasting them as is, while others argued that those white fibrous hulls are not what you're supposed to be eating. Then the question arose: Are pepitas different from pumpkin seeds? Some staffers had lived their entire adult lives under the impression that the lively bright-green seeds that make a satisfying snack and add a delightful crunch to many dishes are referred to as pepitas, while pumpkin seeds designate the whole white, woody seed situation.
So what's the right answer? They're essentially the same damn thing. But the thing is, what a few of us were surprised to learn (from our slightly older, wiser, and full-of-random-life-survival-knowledge colleagues): Like sunflower seeds, you're supposed to remove the fibrous shell to get to the tasty meat of the seed as you're snacking. And somehow, we're all just inherently supposed to know this... Also, the lovely green pumpkin seeds that you buy in bulk at the store without having to crack and spit away a crappy hull--the ones you find in your granola bars and enjoy atop salads are actually no-shell pumpkin seeds. Get this, they're actually grown shell-free in certain varieties of pumpkins. GENIUS.
The whole white seeds extracted from your carving pumpkin are edible when roasted (obviously, plenty of us have/do)--but if you think you hate pumpkin seeds, that might be why. Even after seasoning and roasting, the chewy white hull is pretty awful. Meaning, if you want to get ultimate snacking enjoyment from the white seeds straight from your carved-out pumpkin, you're going to need to de-hull those things first (yes, after already scooping them out of that stringy fishbowl of a gourd and cleaning them individually)--all of which are pretty laborious and time-consuming.
That said, if you're still set on not wasting those self-harvested seeds, that's cool, get your food project tedium on. Click here for tips on how to de-shell and prepare the pumpkin seeds from a jack-o'-lantern pumpkin.
So whether you enjoy eating the whole seed, white woody hull and all (we have a couple of staffers who stand by that... claiming it's a part of the seed's "charm"), you've taken the time and effort to de-hull your whole seeds (more power to you), you grow hull-less seed pumpkin varietals at your estate (can I come live with you?), or you've opted to take the easiest road and by a bag of the little green guys that require zero effort (me, me, me!), here are 7 tasty ways to enjoy your pumpkin seeds:
1. Add to a salad
2. Top your breakfast yogurt or oatmeal
4. Crush for a crust on baked, 'faux-fried' chicken
Walnut and Rosemary Oven-Fried Chicken
5. Mix into a toasty quinoa bowl
6. Stir into salsa or guacamole for added crunch
7. Purée with oil and spread over flatbread before topping with your favorite cheese and veggies