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Pumpkin seeds redux. November 10, 2009

Posted by ourfriendben in recipes, Uncategorized, wit and wisdom.
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5 comments

Silence Dogood here. After writing a post last week called “Clarification: pumpkin seeds” (which see) about whether you had to either peel the hulls off pumpkin seeds or get hulless pumpkin seeds in order to eat them, I got lots of good advice and techniques from readers on thier preferences. I’d been confused, since not only are pepitas, the wonderful, crunchy-salty pumpkin seeds available as snacks in stores, always green, not white like normal pumpkin seeds in their hulls, but I’d read that the white pumpkin seeds had to be hulled—a horrifically difficult and time-consuming process—in order to be edible. Reader consensus said “Not so!” Most folks simply roasted their pumpkin seeds, hulls and all, with a little olive oil and salt until they were crispy-crunchy; some preferred roasted winter squash seeds.

Here at Hawk’s Haven, our pumpkins and winter squash are still playing their part in our Harvest Home display, so I haven’t had a chance to cut them open and extract the seeds and won’t until after Thanksgiving. But boy, was I hungry for pepitas after reading all this good advice! Our friend Ben and I enjoy the tasty pumpkin seeds as snacks and tossed onto salads as a healthy, crunchy replacement for croutons. Yum!

I had pumpkin seeds in the back of my mind when I went to a local health food store to try to find Trocomare, since I’d run out. Bear with me, please, while I tell you more about this. This particular health food store sells two hot, homemade soups every day, as well as sandwiches. I’m very picky about soup, but reading their ingredient lists—not to mention smelling and looking at the soups—I had to admit, they looked (and smelled) good. And yowie zowie, they were! But one ever-present ingredient puzzled me: Herbamare. “What’s Herbamare?!” I asked. “It’s a Swiss herbal salt mixture,” the cashier told me, directing me to the condiments aisle.

Sure enough, there were canisters of Herbamare and its spicier cousin, Trocomare. I quote: “Trocomare is made according to the original recipe of the world famous Swiss naturopath Alfred Vogel and is prepared with fresh, organically grown herbs. The fresh herbs are combined with natural sea salt and allowed to steep for up to one year before the moisture is removed by a special vacuum process at low temperature. This steeping process integrates the full herb and vegetable flavour into the salt crystal.” The ingredients list names sea salt, organic celery leaves, organic leek, organic cress (water and garden), organic onion, organic chive, organic parsley, organic lovage, organic garlic, organic basil, organic marjoram, organic rosemary, organic thyme, kelp (with trace iodine). Chile pepper and a little horseradish give Trocomare the zing that the otherwise similar Herbamare lacks (though it, too, is wonderfully flavorful).

Returning to pumpkin seeds, I was lucky enough to find the Trocomare on sale, and managed to remember that I was craving those pepitas. Sure enough, there were big, beautiful bags of green pumpkin seeds, and better yet, they too were on sale! I grabbed one and headed to the checkout counter. Once home, I opened the bag of pumpkin seeds—big and gorgeously green—and tasted one. Oh, dear. Living up to the reputation of health food, it was completely flavorless. Something had to be done!

Okay, okay, every single recipe for roasted pumpkin seeds insists that you spread the seeds out on a cookie sheet and roast them in the oven, stirring constantly. But once anything goes in the oven, I myself tend to assume it’s on its own until its cooking time is up. Numerous sheets of burnt cookies have taught me not to try this with something as delicate as pumpkin seeds. But there was no way we could eat these uncooked seeds as is. Even OFB wouldn’t put up with this. What to do?!

Staring at the bag of seeds and the canister of Trocomare, I had what a dear friend’s mother deathlessly referred to as “a rush of brains to the head.” Grabbing one of my heavy LeCreuset Dutch ovens, I splashed in some extra-virgin olive oil and turned the gas on low. I added a liberal amount of Trocomare and tossed in a mix of dried basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and marjoram. When the oil was hot, I poured in the pumpkin seeds and stirred constantly until the seeds were well coated and thoroughly hot. Then I turned off the burner and let the whole thing cool down.

When the pumpkin seeds had cooled from hot to warm, I tasted a spoonful. Yum!!! And when our friend Ben came home, I offered him a heaping spoonful along with some cheese and crackers as a snack to hold him over ’til dinner. You should have heard the raves (and demands for more). The olive oil-Trocomare-dried herb-pumpkin seed mix was a hit!

Note: They’re easy to store in the fridge, too, until needed for snacks or salads. We always enjoy hulled sunflower seeds, too, but as far as we’re concerned, pepitas rule. They are so delicious, and they provide numerous health benefits. Here are a few of the claims made for pumpkin seeds: prostate protection, improved bladder function, relief from depression, anti-inflammatory benefits, prevention of cancer and osteoporosis, prevention of parasites and kidney stones, lower cholesterol, and added magnesium. Wow!!!

            ‘Til next time,

                         Silence

Clarification: pumpkin seeds. October 29, 2009

Posted by ourfriendben in gardening, homesteading, wit and wisdom.
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12 comments

Silence Dogood here, and I need your help. We’re big fans of pepitas (roasted, salted pumpkin seeds) here at Hawk’s Haven. But I’d always been told that “regular” pumpkin seeds (the kinds with the white hulls) were so difficult to hull—and that you had to remove the hulls before roasting them or you couldn’t eat them, which seemed to be borne out by the fact that storebought pepitas are always hulless and green—that your only option was to grow special varieties of pumpkins with hulless seeds if you wanted to roast your own. Fortunately, there are a few hulless-seeded varieties out there, if you can find them: ‘Tricky Jack’, ‘Triple Treat’, ‘Trick or Treat’, and ‘Baby Bear’ (which is semi-hulless).

But what if you don’t have enough veggie garden space to grow your own pumpkins and have to buy them from the farm stand, grocery, or farmers’ market instead? I’d say the likelihood of finding one of these hulless-seeded varieties for sale is pretty much zero. However, I keep hearing that you can roast and eat any old pumpkin seed, without removing the tough white hull. Just this morning, our blog host, WordPress, featured a post about saving and roasting pumpkin seeds that said nary a word about hulling the seeds before roasting and eating them.

Help!!! Have you ever roasted your own pepitas? Have you ever roasted them from any old pumpkin, hulls and all? If so, how were they? What am I missing here?!! Please share your experience with us. Maybe we won’t have to put our pumpkin guts in the compost or give them all to the chickens this year! (Note: For some interesting recipes using pumpkin—pumpkin spaghetti and pumpkin cornbread—as well as directions for roasting pumpkin seeds, see our earlier post, “Picking pumpkins.”)

             ‘Til next time,

                          Silence