Fall is a wonderful time of year when pumpkins and squashes come into season, and all sorts of good things happen (hello, pumpkin spice latte!). Toasting pumpkin seeds is definitely one of them. You might not know how to toast pumpkin seeds, but it's easy to do.
Pumpkin seeds may be small, but they are associated with several health benefits, including improved heart health. You can have a tasty and healthy snack in a few simple steps that won't take you more than 5 minutes.
Which Pumpkins Have The Best Seeds For Roasting?
You can roast the seeds from any variety of pumpkin. Some people prefer pumpkins that produce seeds that have thin outer shells or no hulls at all. Styrian pumpkins are one such variety. These seeds without hulls are better known as pepitas.
However, hulless pumpkin varieties may be hard to find. And pumpkin seeds from a regular pumpkin will work well too. You can also roast the seeds from winter squash like butternut and acorn squashes. But personally I prefer to just buy pre-hulled pumpkin seeds, or pepitas. This makes it easy and skips all the mess.
What Is The Difference Between Pumpkin Seeds And Pepitas?
Many people use the words pepitas and pumpkin seeds interchangeably. While technically there is no difference, many people choose to call the seeds with the husk "pumpkin seeds" and the hulless version pepitas.
Pumpkin seeds are white or cream-colored oval-shaped kernels found inside pumpkins like those used to make jack-o'-lanterns. These hulled seeds are slightly fibrous and less tender than pepitas. They are typically roasted in the shell.
Pepitas are harvested from hulless pumpkin varieties like Styrian or oilseed. Other naked-seeded varieties you may come across in your local grocery store include Lady Godiva, Naked Bear, and Kakai Hulless Pumpkin. This flat, green seed with a delicious earthy, nutty flavor gets its name from the Spanish phrase pepita de Calabaza, which means "little seed of squash."
You can always substitute pepitas for pumpkin seeds. Still, it's best to replace pumpkin seeds for recipes that call for pepitas as a garnish.
Are Pumpkin Seeds Good For You?
Pumpkin seeds offer an abundance of nutrients, including amino acids, unsaturated fatty acids, and a wealth of minerals such as calcium, potassium, niacin, and phosphorus. They are high in most of the B vitamins and vitamins C, D, E, and K.
Pumpkin seeds are rich in beta carotene that can be converted into Vitamin A as needed by the body. They are also rich in lutein, which is an eye-protective carotenoid. Just snacking on a handful of pumpkin seeds (about one ounce) provides 7 grams of bodybuilding protein, 1.7 grams of fiber, magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, and zinc.
How To Toast Pumpkin Seeds
For this recipe, I used raw, unsalted pepitas. You can eat them as is, but I find that they are even tastier when they're lightly roasted. They puff up, become a little crisper, and their flavor gets nuttier.
You can roast them in an oven or toaster oven, but I find that toasting pepitas in a skillet really makes them puff up and become nice and crispy. This method is excellent for making a small amount of seeds.
Toasting pepitas in a skillet happens fast, so you have to watch them carefully so that they don't burn. Place the pan over medium heat. Once it gets hot, add enough pepitas to cover the bottom.
Using a wooden spoon, stir the seeds regularly to prevent burning. The pepitas will start to puff up as they start to brown. Some might even pop. If they seem to be browning too quickly, reduce the heat to low.
In 5 minutes or less, the seeds should be evenly toasted and golden brown. Pour them out of the hot pan and into a bowl and allow them to cool. If you leave them in the skillet, the seeds will continue to toast and may burn.
And just like that, you're done!
I like to grab a handful of toasted pumpkin seeds and eat them as a snack. You can also add them to yogurt parfaits, trail mix, or smoothies. Pepitas are a perfect garnish because of their crunchy texture and flavor. Sprinkle some on a bowl of creamy squash apple soup or on top of a loaf of pumpkin bread before baking.
Pumpkin seeds also go great on a plant-based cheese or charcuterie board and are perfect for serving as a snack at holiday parties. You can even package them nicely and give them as a holiday gift.
Tips And Tricks For Roasting The Seeds
1. If you have a large batch of pumpkin seeds, toast them in two batches. Crowding the pan will result in less even toasting.
2. You can use different kinds of seasonings to flavor the seeds. For savory, add some salt and garlic or onion powder, black or white pepper, chipotle, chili powder, cayenne, cumin, or smoked paprika. If you like it sweet, add a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar while omitting the salt.
3. Like other types of nuts and seeds, roasted pumpkin seeds can go rancid. Store cooked seeds in an airtight container at room temperature for 7 to 9 days. They will keep in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 months. You can also freeze them for up to 3 months, but they will not be as crispy when thawed.Print
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