Friday, October 26, 2012
Jack-o-lantern pumpkin seed tips (and recipe)
I’ve worked for a pumpkin farm (Wickham Farms) for 10 years, and in that time I’ve cooked a lot of pumpkin seeds. The bad news: no matter how you cook them, Jack-o-Lantern seeds will be chewy and fibrous. Pie pumpkins and – even better – Delicata squash -- have seeds that aren’t quite as chewy. But if you want to roast your jack-o-lantern seeds next week, here are tips and a recipe to make the process easy and tasty.
Tip 1: Water makes it easier to separate the seeds from the pulp. The orange goo that comes out of the pumpkin with the seeds needs to be removed before baking the seeds. The easiest way to do it: put your scooped-out pumpkin mess in a big bowl of water. The seeds will float, and you can skim them off with a slotted spoon or small sieve/ Some seeds will remain stuck to the pulp, but they come off more easily in the water.
Tip 2: Drying the seeds on a paper towel is not a good idea. I’ve seen a tip that calls for spreading the seeds out on a paper towel and letting them dry overnight. When I tried this, the seeds stuck to the paper towels. I spent a few minutes trying to pick bits of paper towels off the seeds, then wound up tossing that bunch of seeds in the trash. Bad idea.
Tip 3: Boiling/soaking the seeds: not sure. I've seen recipes that call for boiling seeds in salty water. I tried it twice and I’m not sure it makes a difference. I've also heard of soaking the seeds overnight in various solutions ranging from salty water to liquor. I haven’t tried those techniques yet but they are worth exploring.
Tip 4: Low and slow is the way to go. When I’ve tried high temperatures (like 400 degrees), the pumpkin seeds wound up tasting like burnt toast, even when they weren’t burnt. Cooking them in a 275 degree oven for a longer period of time results in better tasting seeds.
Here’s my latest working recipe for pumpkin seeds from Jack-o-Lanterns:
Cajun Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkin Seeds
1 cup seeds from 1 -2 large Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkins
¼ cup of salt (if you boil the seeds)
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
Preheat oven to 200°F.
Cut open your pumpkins and scoop out the insides. Put the whole mess in a large bowl of water. Skim the seeds floating in the water with a small sieve or slotted spoon. Separate the rest of the seeds from the stringy orange stuff. Discard the orange stuff.
(Optional – not sure if needed:) In a saucepan, add the seeds to 4 cups of water. Add ¼ cup of salt. Bring to a boil. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.
Spray a couple of baking sheets with cooking spray, and spread the seeds on the pans. Bake at 200 degrees for about an hour, until dry.
In a small bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon canola oil, 2 teaspoons Worcestershire and 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning. Pour over seeds and stir to combine.
Bake at 275 for another hour.
Note: this post also appears on my blog for the Flavors of Rochester website.