How to Harvest Pumpkin Seeds and Blossoms
Pumpkins are the quintessential fall treat and we've come up with some pretty creative ways to use them, transform them, and enjoy their beautiful colors and flavors. We're talking jack-o-lanterns, soups, sandwiches, home decor, musical shakers, and even pumpkin spice lattes. There's very little that we haven't already thought of, but when you're coming up with all of these creative uses, it's very easy to overlook some of the pumpkin's most basic parts: seeds and blossoms. When you're carving a jack-o-lantern or preparing a fall dish, usually the seeds and blossoms end up in one place... the trash.
Going zero-waste and making the most out of your pumpkin harvest just takes a quick bit of know-how. That's why we're sharing simple methods that are going to stick with you for every fall harvest.
1. Cut a "Lid"
Just like you would when preparing a pumpkin for carving, use a sharp, sturdy knife (serration helps) to cut a "lid" around the top of the pumpkin, then open it up.
2. Scoop Out Seeds
Use a large metal spoon to scoop out the pulp and seeds. Use the spoon to scrape the walls of the pumpkin and remove as much of the stringy pulp as you can.
3. Separate the Seeds
Put the pulp and seeds in a large bowl of water. As you use your hands to start separating the seeds, you'll notice that most of the seeds will sink to the bottom, making them easier to sort out. Rinse off the seeds in a colander and keep moving them around to get extra pulp off.
4. Dry Off
Spread out the seeds on a paper towel or parchment paper and allow them to air dry. They should be dry to the touch, but will be able to dry out further when roasting.
5. Roast (and season)
Preheat the oven to 275 F. Spread the seeds on a cookie sheet with a drizzle of your preferred cooking oil. This is also where you can add seasonings, as simple as salt and pepper, or as complex as any combination of spices like cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, allspice, lemon, cajun seasoning, etc.
1. Pluck Them
This is the simplest part. Pinch the base of the squash blossom and pluck it straight from it's stem. It's also worth giving the blossom a cool rinse in the sink and patting them dry before cooking. The same picking and cooking methods can be used for all kinds of squash blossoms. Pumpkin blossoms are especially versatile because they are large and the petals are thick enough to withstand some cooking.
2. Choose a Cooking Method
Pumpkin blossoms and other squash blossoms can be eaten as they are, especially perfect atop a fall green salad.
Fried squash blossoms are surprising light and fresh tasting, especially when made in a tempura batter, which is perfect for quick frying that will not overcook the squash blossom on the inside. Try out this Tempura Fried Squash Blossoms with Tomato Sauce from Food Network (recipe courtesy of Wolfgang Puck) for a fast and genuinely traditional tempura frying technique.
Pumpkin blossoms can be quite large, certainly larger than other squash blossoms like zucchini, so they are perfect for stuffing. There are lots of great ideas for stuffing, even including Thai Pork-Stuffed Squash Blossoms, but our favorite fall recipe is the Market Stuffed Squash Blossoms from A Spicy Perspective, stuffed with goat cheese and dried cherries. It's the kind of plate that would feel right at home on a Thanksgiving spread.
Get Your Cool Season Garden Started
By the time you've harvested your pumpkins and made some delicious dishes, it may be time to start up your indoor gardening plans to help you maintain a flow of fresh vegetables and herbs throughout the colder months.
Use this suite of supplies to create an indoor oasis for your plants, from indoor seed starting to grow lights and hydroponics.
CONTAINER FRIENDLY HERBS
These herbs will grow happily indoors in containers, making them an extra easy and useful addition to your kitchen.