Pumpkin seeds, also sometimes known as pepitas, are one of the few snacks that you can munch on to your heart’s content and not only not feel guilty about snacking but be proud of your healthy choice.
Pumpkin seeds are packed with nutritious vitamins, minerals and healthy fats. They are just as satisfying as they are delicious.
Can you freeze pumpkin seeds? The answer is that yes, you certainly can. They freeze remarkably well, but there are plenty of ways that you can make the most out of your supply.
Pumpkin Seed Storage Options
The best part about pumpkin seeds is that a little goes a long way, even though they’re definitely a product that is more cost-effective to purchase in bulk.
For the most nutritious solution, find a large supply of raw, organic pumpkin seeds and then store them carefully to keep them for up to a year.
Pumpkin seeds will go rancid if they’re not stored properly. If you’ve purchased a sealed package, you can keep it unopened in a cool, dry location that is out of direct sunlight for up to 3 months or you can place it unopened in your freezer for a year or longer.
When seeds are exposed to air they are immediately at risk for going rancid. Every time you unseal a package make sure you seal it again only after removing as much air as possible.
After you’ve opened a package of pumpkin seeds, it’s highly recommended that you transfer them to a bag or container that has an airtight seal and then keep them in the fridge or freezer.
No matter where you’re storing your seeds, the most important factor is to make sure no moisture seeps into the container. If you keep an opened container well sealed in your fridge they should last up to 6 months. You can easily double that by freezing your pumpkin seeds.
Harvesting Fresh Pumpkin Seeds
If you enjoy preparing pumpkin for your family or have hollowed out a few of the large gourds for spooky decorations, don’t waste the valuable seeds inside. All you have to do to enjoy them is clean the pulp away and give them a good wash.
If you’re going to eat them right away, you can choose from many of the delicious options shared below but, if you’d rather hold onto them for future use, just lay them out in a single layer to dry thoroughly before storing them.
How To Know if Your Pumpkin Seeds Are Still Good
The first thing to check for if you’re concerned your seeds have gone off is any signs of discoloration or unusual smells. If there’s any visible mold, that’s a clear indication that you should toss the entire container.
Even if there are no visible or odorous identifiers, your pumpkin seeds may have gone rancid and the only way you’ll know is to taste them.
Even if they have gone rancid, they aren’t likely to make you sick or cause any damage, but they will taste slightly sour or just bad. If you’re not enjoying the flavor as much as you used to, throw them out and start fresh.
How To Freeze Pumpkin Seeds
If you’ve purchased a sealed bag or package of pumpkin seeds and it is not yet open, you can put it directly in the freezer. It’s already airtight and moisture-proof so it will last for more than a year without losing quality.
If you’ve opened a bag of store-bought pumpkin seeds and want to freeze the rest so that it lasts longer, make sure you place the seeds into a resealable, freezer safer container or Ziploc bag.
The most important factor is to keep moisture out of your container, so any time you open and close it, make sure that you squeeze out as much air as possible.
Freezing Fresh Pumpkin Seeds
If you’re trying to freeze pumpkin seeds fresh from your own pumpkin, you’ll have to take a few steps first. Clean all pumpkin residue off your seeds thoroughly and dry them completely by spreading them out in a single layer on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
It’s important to use parchment paper and not plastic wrap or aluminum foil because nothing sticks to parchment, wet or dry, warm or cold.
Once your seeds are completely dry, which usually takes a day or two, you can transfer them still in a single layer to your freezer. You want to freeze each one individually before you collect them together so that they don’t clump up. This will take about 20 – 30 minutes.
After they’re individually frozen you can collect them up together and put them into any freezer-safe, airtight container or Ziploc bag. At this point, just make sure that you reseal the bag without air any time you take some of the seeds out in the future.
Freezing Cooked Pumpkin Seeds
Freezing cooked pumpkin seeds is much the same process as fresh pumpkin seeds, but instead of waiting for your seeds to dry thoroughly, you want to wait for them to cool completely.
They need to be room temperature before you put them into the freezer or the change from hot to cold will cause condensation, allowing moisture to collect on the seeds and increasing the likelihood that they’ll go rancid or collect ice crystals in the freezing process.
How To Thaw Frozen Pumpkin Seeds
Depending on how you want to eat your pumpkin seeds, you might not have to even thaw them. If you’re planning on baking them, you can just put them into your recipe frozen and they’ll come out just fine. If you want to eat them as a snack, you can simply leave them on the counter to thaw and then start munching when they get back to room temperature.
They should be as good as fresh when you take them out of the freezer, but if you froze raw pumpkin seeds and want to zest them up a bit, this would be a good opportunity for you to test out some great seasoning combinations for roasting.
If you froze raw seeds, they will still sprout, so that is another option that is still open to you.
Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
Raw pumpkin seeds are one of the best natural supplies of magnesium and zinc, which together can help you get a better night’s sleep, every night.
More than 75% of Americans are deficient in magnesium, a mineral that is responsible for controlling your blood pressure, keeping your bones healthy, regulating blood sugar levels and protecting your heart.
They’re also great sources of vitamin K, iron, copper, manganese and phosphorous, which are all important factors for your overall health.
Even better, they’re high in polyunsaturated fats, which is one of the good kinds of fat that helps keep you feeling full and satiated and actually fights weight gain.
Pumpkin seeds are low on the glycemic index, so they’re diabetes-friendly, and there are only 180 calories per ¼ cup of raw shelled seeds, so you can get a nutrition-packed snack that won’t ruin your next meal or your diet, should you be following one.
The antioxidants in pumpkin seeds have been shown to fight inflammation. Most health experts agree that inflammation is the leading cause, or at the very least an underlying component, of pretty much all chronic health disorders, including many types of cancer.
Pumpkin seeds are also high in fiber, which is another nutrient most Americans are deficient in. These delicious little morsels can help protect your gut, improve digestion, and reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
When it comes down to it, a handful of pumpkin seeds consumed each day in any way you prefer can be a great health decision for you. It’s just an extra bonus that they’re also very satisfying to munch on.
How To Eat Pumpkin Seeds
Now that you’re ready to stock up on a big, bulk supply of pumpkin seeds, let’s consider some of the many different ways you can eat them.
Shelled vs Unshelled Pumpkin Seeds
If you’re buying pumpkin seeds, you’ll probably see a difference between shelled and unshelled versions. Both are edible, but raw or sprouted pumpkin seeds in the shell can be quite chewy and your jaw might get tired of trying to get through the hull.
If you’re buying seeds raw, they’ll probably already be shelled. You can tell the difference because the shells are white whereas the seeds themselves are green.
If you’re harvesting your own seeds directly from pumpkins, or if you buy shelled versions, you might find them easier to eat if either roast or fry them in their shells. This is definitely an option worth considering because if you’re looking for zinc, you’ll get more of it with the shell on.
One of the greatest things about pumpkins seeds is that they are so versatile, you will have plenty of options to eat them with and without their shell, so stock up on both.
Raw Pumpkin Seeds
Raw, shelled pumpkin seeds are the perfect addition to oatmeal for breakfast, salad for lunch or sprinkled over a pasta sauce for dinner! They retain all their nutrition and have a nice, natural crunch.
Soaked and Sprouted Pumpkin Seeds
Soaking shelled pumpkin seeds for a few hours encourages them to sprout, which makes them easier to digest and alters their nutritional profile slightly.
It also enhances the natural sweetness of the seed, giving them a completely unique flavor. They’re delicious inside wraps, sprinkled in salads or just eaten as is.
Baked Pumpkin Seeds
Baking with pumpkin seeds should be called for much more often. Any recipe that you’re used to putting nuts in can be embellished with pumpkin seeds, including desserts, bread, or even pie fillings.
You can even chop them up to create a brittle with them that’s as healthy as it is delicious. Seeds are often used in plant-based meat alternatives, such as burgers. You can puree them to add flavor and nutrition with our with you meat.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
You can buy roasted pumpkin seeds, but it’s very easy to make your own and you can control the quality better, so it’s highly recommended.
Simply toss unshelled raw, dried seeds with a little bit of oil and your favorite seasonings, such as salt, garlic powder and a bit of smoked paprika. Then roast them in the oven on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper at 350F for up to 15 minutes, giving them a good stir every 5 minutes.
Try not to roast your seeds any longer than 20 minutes maximum, even if you like them crispier, because the healthy fats change in structure at that point, and a lot of the valuable nutrition is compromised.
Let them cool for a few minutes before eating them because they will burn your mouth if you’re not careful.
Fried Pumpkin Seeds
If you’re making a stir fry, pasta sauce or even a casserole of some sort, sprinkling some fried pumpkin seeds on top brings your meal from good to unforgettable.
To fry shelled or unshelled pumpkin seeds just warm a teaspoon or two of oil in a frying pan and add your seeds. Season with salt and pepper and cook them until they’re golden brown and crispy.
You can also simply add them directly to your sauces or sautéed vegetables, but in this case, the shelled versions will work better.
As a Beverage
This may sound a bit extreme to you, but there are plenty of nut and seed-based milks on the market, and there’s no reason you can’t make your own out of pumpkin seeds.
Just blend 1 cup of raw, shelled pumpkin seeds with 3 cups of water (and a date, if you’d like to naturally sweeten your milk just a touch) and then strain it through a nut milk bag or some cheesecloth and you can have homemade milk in minutes.
You can even take an easier route and simply add raw, shelled pumpkin seeds to your smoothie. This also works amazingly well for dairy-free cream-based sauces and soups.
How many pumpkins do you get per seed?
Each pumpkin seed you plant has the potential to grow into a single pumpkin plant. Each healthy plant will generally harvest 2 to 5 pumpkins per year, though mini pumpkins can produce up to 12 annually.
Not all seeds grow, however, so it’s a good idea to plant 3 to 5 seeds per mound to increase your chances of a strong, healthy plant sprouting.
Is it hard to grow pumpkins?
It’s not overly hard to grow pumpkins, but the circumstances have to be right in order to be successful. They do not like the cold, so if you live in a cool climate, it’s a good idea to start them indoors and transplant them only when you are completely certain there’s no danger of a future frost.
Once the plants are underway, you have to water them weekly and watch out for bugs. It’s a good idea to fertilize them occasionally and train the vines, but none of these tasks are particularly difficult or time consuming.
What’s the best way to preserve seeds for planting?
The most important factor of preserving seeds for planting is to make sure they are kept dry and cool. Any tiny amount of humidity can lead them to begin sprouting or growing mold. A glass container with an airtight light kept in the fridge is a great solution.
If you have multiple types of seeds you can keep them together in the jar, just separate them out first into small envelopes or paper packets.