Learn how to save pumpkin seeds for eating + roasting with this easy guide.
The leaves are changing and the weather has cooled: fall is here and it’s pumpkin season! My kiddos and I are busy harvesting sunflower seeds and making charming pumpkin planters. We love to dry and eat the seeds after carving up the ripe gourds.
Whether you grew your own or pick them up from them pumpkin patch, you can easily harvest + save your own seeds. We’re sharing our step by step process with you here today.
The following supplies will help you as you harvest and save your seeds:
- Baking Pan
- Fresh Pumpkin
- Parchment paper
- Sharp Knife (Or Carving Kit)
- Airtight container
- Gloves * optional
Seeds from these gorgeous gourds can also be saved and planted next year.
When To Harvest Seeds
Harvesting a pumpkin at the right time is key to getting good, healthy seeds. You can tell a pumpkin is ripe if it sounds hollow when tapped and feels hard on the outside.
If the pumpkin is left on the vine too long it will rot, and of course if a harvested pumpkin is left on the porch for a long time it will eventually rot as well.
If you don’t have pumpkins growing in your garden, the best way to get a fresh pumpkin is to go to a patch and harvest one yourself.
The best pumpkins are still on the vine and have no noticeable blemishes, mold or rot. The stem will be brown and dry, indicating it is ready for harvest! Once harvested, you can let the pumpkin rest in a cool, dry location for several weeks as the seeds fully mature.
You can also pick up a carving pumpkin at a grocery store, choose one that looks healthy and makes a hollow sound when thumped. Carving pumpkins often have lots of large seeds, and the seeds can be roasted after carving.
Did you know? Pumpkin seeds can actually germinate and sprout inside of the pumpkin as well- we just found a sprouted pumpkin seed inside of a pie pumpkin. My 5 year old thought this was fabulous!
Why You Need To Dry The Seeds
A pumpkin seed has a thick outer shell, and it’s important to get the seed completely dry! Here’s why:
- On the outside of the seed is the seed coat, the thick white coating that protects the seed germ within. The seed germ is green and tiny, and is the part that will germinate in the spring.
- Moisture is able to penetrate through the seed coat. This is what helps the inside of the seed germinate and sprout into a new pumpkin.
- But, the thick shell also makes the seeds soak up moisture-which is why it’s so important to dry them thoroughly before saving. Mold and rot will form if they are not dried properly. Read on to learn how!
How To Save Pumpkin Seeds For Eating
We use a double dry method for saving the seeds from our festive fall pumpkins. This ensures that the seeds do not rot during storage. Luckily, the process is easy and straightforward.
1. Remove The Seeds
To harvest the pumpkin seeds first cut open top of the pumpkin and scrape out the seeds and “pumpkin guts” with a large metal spoon. Put a flattened plastic or paper bag under your pumpkin to minimize the mess.
Plop the innards into your colander. The inside of the pumpkin actually consists of seeds and pulp, and we’ll be separating the two here. Here are some fun ways to use the pulp if you are feeling extra creative!
2. Wash Seeds And Separate From Pulp
Grab a colander and rinse the pumpkin seeds with cool water. Make sure to use running water and do not let your seeds soak.
As you rinse, use your hands to separate the pulp from the seeds. If you can’t get all of the pulp, don’t worry, you can pull off the rest during the drying process.
Pull out the seeds with a slotted spoon and blot away any excess water with paper towels. Set the pulp on a paper plate or have a plastic bag ready to catch the guts.
3. Air Dry Seeds To Remove Excess Moisture
After seeds are rinsed, the next step is to air dry them at room temperature. This will take away extra moisture from washing and prepare them for the oven.
Line the seeds up in a single layer on a baking pan. It’s a good idea cover the pan with parchment paper or wax paper to prevent the seeds from sticking to the pan.
Set them in a cool, dry place and let them dry overnight.
If you are saving seeds for planting, let them dry for about a week before storing.
4. Dry Seeds In Oven
Even if you are not roasting your seeds, you’ll want to make sure they are completely dry before storing them. The seed is made up of several layers, and the moisture within will cause your seeds to rot.
To dry, line the raw seeds on a cookie sheet. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees, then pop in the seeds for about an hour. The seeds are done when they are dry, crispy and slightly brown.
This drying process will help them stay fresh longer and prevents mold.
How To Store Pumpkin Seeds
Now that they are dry, pumpkin seeds can be enjoyed as a healthy snack for months to come.
Store them in an air tight container, such as a plastic bag or glass container with a locking lid. Place the seeds in a cool, dark area out of direct sunlight, like a kitchen pantry.
The seeds can also be stored in the freezer all year long and pulled out to enjoy whenever the mood strikes.
The most important part of keeping seeds for eating is eliminating moisture, so be sure to keep them in a cool, dark place.
Best Pumpkin Varieties For Seed Harvesting
There are two different types of pumpkins that can be used for seed harvesting. Some pumpkins produce the oval white seeds commonly seen in carving pumpkins.
The second variety produce shell less seeds called pepitas, which are little green seeds often used in pumpkin soup or topped on baked goods. These are often referred to as “naked seed” varieties. The seeds are often called hull less.
If you are growing pumpkins at home, it is worthwhile to grow gourds that feature pepitas. These pumpkin are often orange with thick green stripes.
A few popular varieties:
We wanted to take a moment to show you what can happen if you don’t fully dry pumpkin seeds. I air dried these seeds, but didn’t have time to dry them in the oven.
Thinking I would finish the process when I got home, I threw them into a ziploc bag and promptly forgot about them. A few days later I found this moldy bag of seeds. So take it from me and double dry your seeds.
How To Eat Them
Pumpkin seeds can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. They make a crunchy topping for oatmeal or yogurt, a delicacy when drizzled with sea salt and honey, topped on baked goods, or eaten in salads.
You can even roast them with all types of toppings: try Worcestershire sauce for a savory treat and pumpkin pie spice for sweet!
Pumpkin seeds are delicious roasted and there are a lot of flavor options! (Sea salt and olive oil are a classic, but the kids and I love to add in pumpkin pie spice or maple syrup). Visit our article here to learn how to roast pumpkin seeds.
Frequently Asked Questions
When properly dried, pumpkin seeds will last up to 3 months in a pantry and up to a year when frozen. Toss pumpkin seeds when they smell or taste rancid or if they develop any mold.
Yes, you can save raw pumpkin seeds. The best way to do this is to first rinse with cold water and air dry them, then place the clean seeds in a thin layer on a baking sheet. Finish the drying process in the oven, then save them in an air tight container.
Whether you are harvesting your own pumpkin or picking one up at the patch, you can save your fresh pumpkin seeds and eat them for months!
The delicious seeds are full of healthy fats, Vitamin E and iron (source), and are a festive treat to make with your kids.
Follow our simple steps to make sure you thoroughly dry your seeds to prevent them from rotting. Then, store them in a plastic container in a dry, cool place and enjoy them as a special snack for up to three months!
Let us know in the comments if you have any questions!