In addition to growing pumpkins, did you know that many gardeners (both pro and novice) really like to harvest pumpkin seeds to make sure they’re ahead of next year’s harvest? An interesting idea to add to foods as well (as a salad dressing, muesli, and dried fruit mix). Pumpkins, it turns out, are one of the easiest foods to harvest seeds from, as they’re big and plentiful!

However, before you can start dreaming about planting or roasting seeds for pumpkin pie, you must first learn a quick way to remove pumpkin seeds and dry them. In this guide, I’ll tell you how to clean pumpkin seeds and how to save them for planting.

Step 1: Cut the squash and collect the seeds

  • Start by spreading a tarp (or some old newspapers or towels) on a flat surface: they will help you to collect the pumpkin seeds easily and not mess up.
  • Stand your squash upright on the tarp.
  • Depending on the type of squash you have, carefully poke a knife into the side or top of the squash. Slowly apply pressure to the knife as you move it side to side to widen the cut, slowly slicing it downward.
  • Once you’ve made a cut around the squash, you can easily open it with your hands.

Step 2: How to remove pumpkin seeds

  • Using your fingers and a spoon, sift through the pumpkin innards and find all the pumpkin seeds. Luckily, most of them will come out pretty easily; for others, it may take a little more patience to detach them from the pulp.

Harvest Tip: If you have an ice cream scoop, you can use it to dislodge the pumpkin seeds.

In the next step, we will see how to clean the pumpkin seeds.

Step 3: Collect the pumpkin seeds in a container

Now let’s see how to clean pumpkin seeds.

  • Pour water into a container.
  • As you remove the seeds, place them in the water to remove the pulp.
  • Don’t worry if the seeds are slimy to the touch, that doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t clean.

Soaking Tip: If you’re harvesting pumpkin seeds for the purpose of planting them it’s important to remove all of the pumpkin pulp. If, on the other hand, you’re just drying the pumpkin seeds for roasting, you don’t need to worry if any leftover pumpkin pulp remains.

Step 4: Remove the seeds from the water

Freshly removed pumpkin seeds are sticky – it is best to place them on a cloth, or paper towel, or lay them on wax paper to dry.

  • After removing the seeds from the water, dry them for about 5 – 10 minutes with paper towels.
  • If you see any pulp still attached to some of the seeds, use the cloth or your fingers to remove it before drying the pumpkin seeds.

Step 5: Inspect the seeds

Before drying the seeds, once cleaned, sift them and choose the largest ones: the bigger the pumpkin seeds are, the greater the chances they have of germinating later!

Step 6: Arrange pumpkin seeds on a cloth and spread them out

If you need to dry pumpkin seeds, you have various options in front of you; in this case, we have chosen the air-drying method.

  • Line a baking sheet with dry paper towels or a cloth.
  • Spread the pumpkin seeds on the cloth in a single layer, making sure they are well-spaced from each other and dry well on all sides. If you leave them together, too close together, they won’t dry properly. Also, it will be more difficult for you to identify seeds with mold that must be removed immediately. To remove pumpkin seeds with mold, simply remove them from the group and check that the mold has not affected other seeds.

Step 7: Air dry the pumpkin seeds

  • Move the tray in which you placed the seeds to a cool, dark place: this is where you will dry the pumpkin seeds for about a month. A space like a shed or a barn or even a shaded outdoor spot (but not a basement) can work. Stay away from places with little airflows, like the garage.
  • Place your tray of seeds here and check them every day, not only to be able to turn them but also to check that there are no double coats.
  • Keep in mind that while air drying is the safest and most effective way to dry pumpkin seeds, it’s also the most time-consuming.

Tip: Use the oven to dry pumpkin seeds

Baking the seeds is the riskiest drying option because the risk of damaging them is greater.

  • Preheat the oven to the lowest temperature (93°C for most ovens).
  • Arrange the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  • Move the oven rack to the lowest position and place the baking sheet.
  • Cook the seeds for about 3 – 4 hours, taking care to mix them with a spoon every 30 minutes to prevent them from burning.

Step 8: Sort out your seeds

  • After about a month, sift through your pumpkin seeds (which should all be 100% dry).
  • If you see any moldy or damaged seeds, throw them away immediately.
  • Your pumpkin seeds can be packaged in a bag or paper bag and stored for next year’s planting/roasting.
  • Label the envelope or paper bag with the date and all the details about the seeds.
  • How to store pumpkin seeds for planting? Place the envelope or paper bag in a cool, dry place—if you can’t find any, you can place them in the refrigerator.

You may have learned how to store pumpkin seeds to plant them in the easiest and most correct way, but keep these few tips in mind:

  • Unless you’re planning on planting an entire pumpkin garden, chances are you’ll end up with more pumpkin seeds than you need.

All of your extra seeds can be roasted for a tasty treat. However, eating too many can lead to an overdose of vitamin B6 by causing stomach bloating. So, enjoy, but consume your pumpkin seeds in moderation!

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