It’s Halloween! Learn How to roast pumpkin seeds

Posted on October 31, 2011

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Bundle up well and go shopping for pumpkins.  Wade into the brilliant orange pile searching for a pumpkin that will support your artistic vision and will also rest firmly on its kiester without tipping over.  Set the best three or four contenders in a row, keeping a sharp lookout for children who might snatch them right out from under you while you stroke your chin and consider each in turn.  When your nose and hands are freezing and your companion in this expedition is starting to sigh, grab the biggest, but not without a backward glance at the ones you leave behind.

Brew up a big cauldron of mulled cider.  Set a bottle of rum enticingly nearby for the grown-ups.  Spread newspaper and carving tools all over the dining room table.  Don’t forget big bowls and long-handled spoons.  Cut lids in the top of your pumpkins and scrape the guts and seeds into bowls before carving the weirdest, most fantasmagoric jack-o-lanterns ever seen.  This step works best if there are children of various ages involved: one or two small enough to require adult assistance with the sharps, others with enough arm strength to scrape out their own pumpkin but not quite enough patience, and at least one who silently pursues his or her ideal jack-o-lantern with relentless drive and focus.

While the slow-pokes finish their jack-o-lanterns, take one or two friends and/or sisters and the bowls of pumpkin guts over to the sink, get out the big colander, and set the compost bin at your feet.  Wash the seeds, carefully picking them free of guts and strings.  This will take a while, so settle in with your mug of cider and get ready for a long, confidential gossip.

Rinse the seeds well, then drain off as much water as possible.  The salad spinner can be useful at this point.  Then make an attempt to scrub the pumpkin goo off your hands, arms, and face.

In a large bowl, toss the seeds with just enough tamari or soy sauce to coat.  Let seeds sit and soak for a while if you have the patience.  In fact, the seeds can be put in airtight containers at this point if you are sending friends home with a share to be roasted later, and they will keep just fine in the refrigerator overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Spread pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt.  A single layer will cook quickly, but you can fill up a rimmed baking sheet—you will just have to roast them longer and stir frequently.  After about 10 minutes, check and stir your seeds, then every 5 minutes or so after that until they are toasty brown and making a pleasant sizzling noise.  The difference between toasty and burnt is a matter of only a few minutes inattention, so set a timer if you are busy taking pictures of just finished jack-o-lanterns, opening the door to a series of goblins who scream “trick or TREAT!” in unison, or canoodling on the couch in front of a roaring fire.

Let seeds cool at least slightly before transferring to a big bowl.  Taste, and add additional salt if needed before devouring.  Cooled completely and tightly sealed, the seeds will stay crunchy for several days.

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