Pumpkin seeds, A.K.A. Pepitas, aren’t just yummy, they are chock full of important nutrients. Here is how to prepare them so that you make the most of the nutrients, and your loved ones won’t try to feed them to the squirrels.
Checking raw seeds, nuts, beans and grains for foreign objects is an essential step in limiting cross-contamination. I’m surprised how many people with severe allergies completely forget this step.
Rinse well, and until the water runs fairly clear, agitating the seeds with your fingers in the water. Lots of green stuff will come off. That’s normal. Just keep rinsing until you are bored, don’t care any more, or the water rinses clean.
For every ~4 Cups of seeds, dissolve a tablespoon of sea salt in enough pure water to cover them for 12 hours. If you want to season the little rascals, this is a good time to start. I like to add cayenne pepper and garlic at this stage if I am making seeds for snacking on. If your goal is nut butter, don’t add anything but the salt.
Rinse the nuts again at the end of the soak, just like you did when washing them the first time. Agitation is arguably more important now. After rinsing, get them as dry as possible. Letting them rest in a colander or rolling them up in a dry dish towel can help this process along if you are feeling particularly obsessive.
This step is optional. If I make the seeds for eating as a snack, I generally crush a couple of cloves of fresh garlic, grind up some cumin seeds, add some cayenne pepper and maybe (see the salt warning below) some salt. Add this to a little olive oil (maybe 1 tbsp) and mix it into the bowl of damp seeds.
The salt warning: The seeds absorb enough salt from the soaking water to be tasty, and adding more salt can be risky. Also keep in mind that the seeds don’t taste very salty when they are wet for some reason. You really, really don’t want over-salted pumpkin seeds. Trust me.
Spread the seeds on some parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Dry them in the oven, on the blech, hot-plate, in the sun, or in a food dehydrator. When they are dry they should be crisp and ready to eat!
Making pumpkin seed butter:
If you want to make nut butter with the seeds, put them in the food processor with a touch of salt for about 5 minutes. It won’t seem like much is happening, and you may need to use a spatula to get them off the sides from time to time, but eventually the heat will increase from the friction, the oils will start melting, a ball will form, and with a prayer or two a smooth and creamy nut butter will appear. On it’s own, it tastes a lot like pistachios. If you add some nice raw honey, and don’t skimp, it tastes like halvah and you probably won’t want to share it with anyone. Enjoy!