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Pumpkin Seeds

 The pumpkin of the gourd family is most commonly thought of as a delectable pie or a jolly jack-o-lantern fruit for Halloween, but it also contains edible seeds. A coarse, annual vine of the New World origin was widely distributed over central and northern Mexico and the southwester United States in pre-Columbian times. Archaeological remains of pumpkin seeds, rinds, and fruits have been found in the valley of Oaxaca, Mexico, dating back to 8750 B.C. The pumpkin formed an integral part of the corn-bean-squash complex which supplied the main diet of several pre-Columbian civilizations. The species was already widely grown in the Americas when the first Europeans arrived. The long lasting pumpkin must have been an attractive food for primitive peoples lacking adequate means of food preservation. The fruits, seeds, and even flowers provided nourishment.

During the sixteenth century, the pumpkin was introduced to Europe, where it was planted extensively from England to Italy. Later, it was taken to Asia Minor, Africa and the Far East. The crop is now cultivated extensively in many tropical and subtropical areas throughout the world. It should be noted that pumpkins are not usually served as table vegetables since they are coarse and strongly flavored, a fact that makes them most appropriate for baking and for pumpkin pie.

Pumpkins have the distinction of being the largest fruits of the plant kingdom, at times reaching weights in excess of three hundred pounds, with huge circumferences of five to six feet.

In the last twenty fives years, the nutritious seeds rich in fats and protein have become more important as a health and snack food. The seeds are flats, white elliptical, three-quarters to one inch wide with a thin seed coat. The seeds can be readily separated from the pulp, facilitating their use. The seeds may be eaten like nuts, raw or roasted. The seeds are often called pepitas. Today, pumpkin seeds are readily eaten not just as a great tasting snack food but for their tremendous health benefits. Pumpkin seeds are very high in protein and Vitamin A.

Pumpkin seeds are the seeds which are found within the pulp of a ripe pumpkin. Pumpkin seeds have a sweet and nutty flavor and are most often prepared as a salty snack. While some may associate pumpkin seeds with Halloween, there are others all over the world who use pumpkin seeds as a daily food staple.

Pumpkin seeds are low in cholesterol and depending on the method of preparation are considered a healthy snack. Pumpkin seeds are also high in iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium and fatty acids.Pumpkin seeds may also be eaten raw or air dried.

 Pumpkin seed can also be seasoned with chili or garlic powder, as well as herbs, salt, pepper and butter. Pumpkin seeds should be rinsed and cleaned of any pulp prior to consumption or preparation. A paper towel can be used to provide ventilation for the drying seeds. They can also be dried on a low oven setting between 100F and 300F degrees until the shells become golden brown and begin to peel. Pumpkin seeds should be allowed to cool prior to consumption and raw or air dried seeds should be washed thoroughly in order to remove any bacteria. Once pumpkin seeds are roasted or dried, they can be kept in a jar for an extended period of time. Fresh pumpkin seeds should continuously be exposed to the air in order to prevent them from developing mold.