Have a bunch of pumpkin seeds and wondering how long they last? This guide breaks down everything you need to know.
It’s officially pumpkin season, which means you likely have access to a fair amount of pumpkin seeds that are fresh from the source.
What Are Pumpkin Seeds?
Pumpkin seeds are the little seeds found inside fresh pumpkins. They are also known as “pepitas,” which is Spanish for the phrase “little seed of squash.”
They are flat, oval-shaped seeds with a white outer shell that is sometimes removed before consumption. While edible the shell may be difficult to digest.
You can also roast pumpkin seeds. Seasoned and roasted they make a delicious snack or an excellent addition to any number of recipes.
Why Are Pumpkin Seeds a Good Snack?
Pumpkin seeds are a great snack for many reasons, the first of which is their nutritional value. These little seeds are so good!
Boasting numerous health benefits they contain healthy fats, magnesium, and other nutrients that support heart and bone health.
Looking to add more iron to your diet? Pumpkin seeds can help! One cup of pumpkin seeds contains over 9 mg of iron.
For reference, the recommended daily allowance of iron for premenopausal females is 18 mg, and for males and postmenopausal females, is 8. Wow!
They also are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants like selenium and beta carotene, and are an excellent source of zinc, phosphorus, manganese, protein, and fiber.
How Can You Use Pumpkin Seeds?
Pumpkin seeds are a great addition to fresh green salads, oatmeal, or homemade granola, granola bars and trail mixes.
Pureed pumpkin seeds are a great crunchy coating for fish or other tender meat, such as a rack of lamb.
You can also add texture to pasta or soup - pumpkin seeds are perfect for topping butternut squash soup.
You can make a pumpkin seed butter by swapping out nuts in nut butter recipes, or use them as a replacement for pine nuts in pesto.
Roasted pumpkin seeds are a very popular and incredibly easy to make with items you already have on hand in your pantry. Kids love making roasted pumpkin seeds, too!
How Can You Tell if Your Pumpkin Seeds Have Gone Bad?
It might seem like pumpkin seeds are extremely shelf stable but that is not the case - the shelf life of pumpkin seeds is actually surprisingly short.
Due to a high oil content, pumpkin seeds tend to go bad more quickly than other similar pantry items.
- Appearance - Moist, moldy, or discolored pumpkin seeds should not be consumed as these are signs of spoilage.
- Scent - Musty smelling seeds are an indicator that there is early mold growth, even if it is not visible. Any food that smells like mold or has a rancid smell should be thrown out.
- Taste - If the seeds look and smell as expected, then taste will be the final clue as to whether or not your pumpkin seeds have gone bad. If they are bitter or otherwise unpleasantly flavored, they are no longer good.
How Long Do Unbaked or Raw Pumpkin Seeds Last?
You will want to roast or prepare fresh, raw pumpkin seeds within 2-3 days assuming they've been stored in a sealed container.
Pumpkin seeds that have not been baked or otherwise prepared will need to be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge.
You can also preserve pumpkin seeds for future use by freezing them.
To freeze pumpkin seeds, spread them out on a baking sheet in a single layer and place the baking sheet in the freezer for a couple of hours.
Once frozen, transfer the seeds to freezer-safe containers. Be sure to label the freezer bag with the date - they will be good for up to a year.
Should You Eat Raw Pumpkin Seeds?
Pumpkin seeds are very versatile and can be eaten both raw and cooked, and it's certainly safe to enjoy raw pumpkin seeds.
Both raw and cooked pumpkin seeds can be eaten with or without the shell, which is easy to chew but may be harder for some to digest.
Pumpkin seeds with shells are higher in fiber. Raw pumpkin seeds, while safe to eat, contain a high phytic acid content.
Phytic acid is found in foods like seeds, nuts, and grains, and is proven to make other nutrients such as iron and zinc less bioavailable.
This nutrient may also slow down the production of digestive enzymes, which help break down food.
For these reasons, raw pumpkin seeds are not recommended for people with digestive issues or those who already have lower levels of iron and zinc.
How To Clean and Prepare Pumpkin Seeds
Preparation is the longest step in making delicious pumpkin seeds because each individual seed must be pulled from the fibrous strands of pumpkin pulp, the slimy, stringy, bright orange goop found inside a pumpkin.
So, roll up your sleeves and begin!
- Open the pumpkin. If you’re planning to make a decorative Jack O’ Lantern out of your pumpkin, you will want to cut a circular hole in the top or bottom of the pumpkin for access to the seeds. Otherwise, cut however you see fit.
- Scoop out the seeds. You can achieve this step by using a strong metal spoon or a scoop made for the sole purpose of removing the pulp and seeds. Do not allow the pulp to dry.
- Soak the seeds. Place the mass of pulp and seeds into a large bowl. Run water over them and use your hands to swish the seeds around, removing any strands of pulp. This will separate the seeds very easily. Drain off any excess water.
- Rinse the seeds. You will want to remove as much of the flesh as possible from the seeds.
- Boil the seeds. This is not necessary and can be skipped. However, if you choose to boil the seeds, use salted water. This will help permeate the seeds and they will cook more evenly.
- Dry the seeds. Drain the clean seeds in a colander and use a towel or paper towel to dry them as thoroughly as possible to soak up an excess moisture. This step will ensure that they become crispy when baked. Roasting dry seeds will also help shorten your cook time.
How to Season Pumpkin Seeds
There are many flavorful options for topping your pumpkin seeds prior to baking.
Toss your seeds with a small amount of your choice of oil or melted butter and preferred seasonings or toppings.
Here are some great suggestions for flavoring your roasted seeds:
- Savory seeds - paprika, cumin, chili powder, ranch dressing mix, garlic salt or garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, curry powder, tajin, cayenne pepper
- Sweet seeds - brown sugar, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, honey, maple syrup
After tossing your seeds in the toppings of your choosing, arrange them evenly on a sheet tray.
Bake at 300° F until golden brown, then allow to completely cool before moving them to an airtight container or bag.
Baked seeds are good for a couple of weeks at room temperature and for 2-3 months if frozen for later use with proper storage.
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Nicole is a self-published author of fiction novels, and a lover of food and spending time in the kitchen with her six children. She lives in coastal Maine where she loves exploring new recipes especially those that can save time, money and wow a crowd.Tags: FAQ, Pumpkin, Fall