Let me plant a seed for you

November 21, 2011 at 12:10 am 1 comment

As I’ve discussed in the past, I love the bounty local foods, like beets and potatoesavailable in the fall, and my enthusiasm for winter squash is no exception. Butternut squash soups, baked acorn squash with maple syrup, pumpkin pie and the list goes on.

One part of squash that many people overlook, however, is the seed. Most of us are used to toasting pumpkin seeds when we carve jack-o-lanterns for Halloween, but many people aren’t aware that you can eat the seeds of other winter squash as well. While the volume of seeds you get from other squash is smaller than a pumpkin, I would argue that they are a tastier snack. The hulls are thinner, so the seeds get crispier and require a shorter baking time. Nutritionally, they are low in sodium and every source I’ve read states they are full of zinc and magnesium. Also, if you leave the shells on (which I definitely recommend, it is way too much work to remove them), they are a good source of fiber.

Preparation for baking any seed is simple. After scooping them from the squash, rinse them well to remove any strings or bits of squash that may remain. It is good to let the seeds dry out a bit, as it will help shorten the baking time. Some recipes suggest patting them dry with a paper towel, but I usually leave them in a colander for several hours to let them air dry. You can even leave them in the fridge overnight.

Preheat the oven to 250-300º Farenheit. I recommend a lower temperature for smaller seeds, a higher temp for larger seeds like pumpkin. After they are mostly dry to the touch, lightly coat them with olive oil. You can use other oils if you like, but I usually use olive oil, which is safe at this low of a temperature. Select some of your favorite herbs and spices for flavoring. You can do sweet or savory, though I personally find the savory ones more appealing. A very simple option is garlic powder or garlic salt. Pre-made mixes also work well. It all depends on the flavors you like. I encourage you to test out different options until you find something you like. Because the batches are small, if you don’t like one batch, you don’t end up with a bunch of seeds you’re not interested in eating.

The baking time will vary depending on the type of seeds, but the small ones usually only take 15-20 minutes. Pumpkin seeds will take longer, sometimes up to 40 minutes. You may hear the seeds begin to pop, which usually means they are done. “Doneness” is also a matter of preference, we prefer a nice crispy seed versus a chewy one. You can store the seeds in any container at room temp, but if it is like my house, they won’t last more than a few hours!

So, the next time you make winter squash, don’t forget to keep the seeds for an easy and healthy snack. Happy toasting!

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. A vehicle « foodaccordingtoemily  |  December 14, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    […] time is in baking the squash, so be sure to start that right away. And don’t forget to save the seeds for roasting! There really isn’t a lot to comment on this one except that it is exceptionally easy, and […]

    Reply

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