Halloween is the culmination of all things fall: Ultimately, the holiday is centered around some of our favorite seasonal activities, like creating a jack-o’-lantern to set on the doorstep. You can extend the fun associated with this particular ritual, however, by saving the seeds after you carve your pumpkin. These seeds can actually be repurposed into a myriad of seasonal recipes, preserved for future planting, and more.
You can preserve your seeds to grow another pumpkin next Halloween, so long as you clean and dry them for long-term storage. “I usually soak the seed in warm tap water to remove any pulp, then dump them into a colander to drain,” says Brie Arthur, a horticulturist and author of The Foodscape Revolution and Gardening with Grains. “Then, I put the seeds on a dish towel and allow them to dry for a day or more.” After the seeds are dry, wrap them in a paper towel and place them in a sealable plastic bag or airtight jar.
Sabine H. Schoenberg, host of Sabine’s New House on Smart Healthy Green Living, says to store the pumpkin seeds in a cool, well-ventilated place (like the refrigerator) over the winter months, as they are best planted in late April into May for fall harvest in late-September, as it takes between 90 to 120 days to grow on average. “By storing seed in the refrigerator, cold stratification is also achieved, which will help lead to higher germination rates,” adds Arthur.
Compost Your Pumpkin Seeds
If you don’t want to use your pumpkin seeds at all after carving your jack-o’-lantern, don’t throw them in the trash—they could be a great addition to a compost pile. To start the pile from scratch, combine green material—such as lawn cuttings and food scraps (think: the pumpkin seeds) and twice as much brown material—dry leaves, newspaper, and hay. The green matter provides the nitrogen and the brown offers carbon.
To make sure the seeds don’t germinate in the compost, don’t soak them; this will increase germination, says Schoenberg. Instead, boil the seeds to neutralize them and ensure they won’t start to grow.
Turn Your Pumpkin Seeds Into Butter
Come autumn, there’s nothing quite like a piece of warm bread smeared with fresh pumpkin seed butter (and a piping hot cup of cider to wash it all down). Luckily, you can make the seed butter at home if you save the harvest you cull from your carving session. Start by washing the seeds thoroughly; then, grind them in a food processor until they are smooth. Add oil and salt for taste (try honey and cinnamon for even more flavor).
Roast the Pumpkin Seeds
If you love to snack on roasted pumpkin seeds, especially around Halloween, you can make them fresh after saving the leftovers from your carved pumpkin.
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
- On a baking sheet, drizzle the pumpkin seeds in olive oil (complete with excess pulp from the pumpkin) and toss them with a handful of spices to bring out their nutty, earthy flavor.
- Roast the pumpkin seeds in the oven for up to 45 minutes.
Looking for a few delicious roasted pumpkin seed recipes? Consider making some of our favorites below.
1. Spiced Pumpkin Seeds
Do you like sweet-and-savory snacks? Then you’ll love this pumpkin seed recipe, which features honey, cayenne, and cinnamon.
2. Herby Pumpkin Seeds
Get a taste of Italy via these seasoned pumpkin seeds which are coated in fennel seed, dried oregano, and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
3. Cayenne pepper brings the heat to this recipe. Fresh lime juice leads to a slightly tangy finish.
Toss the Pumpkin Seeds in a Salad
Pumpkin seeds are the perfect salad toppers. Add the heart-healthy seeds, which are packed with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, antioxidants, and fiber, to your nutritious first course with these recipe ideas.
4. Brussels Sprout Salad with Avocado and Pumpkin Seeds
The toasted pecans can easily be swapped out for pumpkin seeds, which would pair nicely with the shaved fennel and celery root in this tender salad.
5. Quinoa and Corn Salad with Pumpkin Seeds
This dish is high in protein and amino acids from the quinoa. The addition of pumpkin seeds alongside red peppers, jalapeño, tomato, and avocado makes this salad more hearty with a hint of heat.
6. Salad with Radishes and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds
Top this radish salad with the aforementioned Spicy Pumpkin Seeds for a dish that’s both citrusy—via the orange juice dressing—and spicy.
7. Harvest Pumpkin Soup
Root vegetables, such as turnips, parsnips, potatoes, and shallots, are the stars of the show in this soup. The pumpkin seeds are essential to the recipe, too: Bring them to a boil with chicken stock and spices to impart rich flavor.
8. Cauliflower Soup With Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Toasted pumpkin seeds supply tons of nutrients, as does this soup’s cauliflower content (the vegetable provides vitamin C, potassium, and folate).
9. Garnish this pumpkin and peeled chestnut soup with pumpkin seeds for a satisfying crunch.
Garnish this pumpkin and peeled chestnut soup with pumpkin seeds for a satisfying crunch.