Some like them salty, other like them sweet. There are even those who love them with chili powder and paprika sprinkled on them. No matter how you like to eat them, one thing is for sure: getting pumpkin seeds out of the shell is one of the most challenging experiences on the planet! Those delicious little seeds (or “pepitas”) really like to stick themselves to the outer husk making them incredibly time-consuming to get out of the shell. With busy schedules, lack of experience, and little knowledge of the best techniques, most just end up toasting the whole thing and eating it, cleaning them and eating the whole thing raw, and some just throw the delicious seeds away without bothering to take the time to use them at all.
But what a waste that is right? All that time spent nurturing and growing your pumpkin to finally carve into it and only enjoy a portion of what it has to offer? The seeds of the pumpkin aren’t just delicious in cereals, brittles, and salads, but they are also an excellent source of nutrients and antioxidants to help keep blood pressure low and prostate health good. And with only 151 grams of calories per 28 grams of seeds, these tiny little treats can easily be added to any diet or eating program to help you achieve the results you are looking for.
So how do pumpkin seed masters get the seed out of the shell to enjoy all of the taste and health benefits? Well, they consider a few different factors: time, materials, and the end result. With these things in mind, you can decide which method below is right for you when you want to get your pumpkin seeds out of the shell and start enjoying their delicious benefits with every meal!
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Lots of time and almost no materials required:
With time and patience all things are possible. The same goes for getting pumpkin seeds out of the shell. If you have time to kill, or just really like the tactile sensation of pumpkin seeds in your hand, then these are the best ways to get the job done:
- Pinching: Some prefer to pinch the seed out of the shell. Using your thumb and index finger to squeeze along the seams of the shell to force the point at the top open and push the seed through with their fingers. The drawback to this is that the soft raw seeds stick to the outer shell and can break if pinched too hard. Flat seeds also make this process more difficult as there isn’t much to pinch. Pro-Tip: Bake the seeds first in the oven for about 10-20 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. After they cool, the pinching technique is a lot easier as the shells are harder and will literally crack under the pressure of your might pinch.
- Cutting: Some find the process of getting a pumpkin seed out of the shell a fantastic task when watching tv or sitting outside enjoying the weather. Those who do generally like to cut the seed open with something like kitchen scissors. A cut made along the side seam of the shell will allow you to easily open it and extract the seed from inside. The drawback to this is that you do have to pay close attention to where your fingers are. A wrong move can leave you with fewer fingers and as a result fewer pumpkin seeds. Pro-Tip: Do this with a partner or two. A lot easier to have someone cutting and someone pulling the seeds out of the shell.
- Biting: It is a combination of the pinching technique but instead of using your thumb to push the seed out, you use your teeth. Simply pinch the bottom of the seed with your fingers and use your two front teeth to drag the seed out. We would like to point out that this technique is also probably best if you are eating the seeds as you pull them out with your teeth. If you plan on selling them, make sure to…erm..wash them first, ya know, since they have been in your mouth and all. Pro-Tip: Make sure the seeds are raw for this. If the shells are too dry you risk crunching the shell with your teeth and damaging the seeds.
The techniques above are best suited to small amounts of pumpkin seeds. Even with a small amount, going seed by seed can still take up a lot of time and if you have many seeds to get out of the shell, you will probably want to consider other less time consuming options.
Less time more materials
If you lack the time but don’t mind having to clean up a few things after you are done then these techniques might be better for you:
- The Crack and Boil: This method first involves cleaning the seeds. Let them dry a bit and when they are ready, roll over them with a rolling pin to crack the shells a bit. After,.place them in a pot of boiling water for about 5-15 minutes depending on the freshness of the seeds. After about five minutes you will start to notice that the husks open from the heat of the boiling water and the seeds will slip out and sink to the bottom while the husks stay floating at the top. All you have to do is skim the husks from the top of the water and drain the pot into a colander to let the seeds dry. Pro-Tip: Make sure the seeds are completely dry before you roll over them with a rolling pin. Also, don’t use all your strength to mash the seeds before you have had a chance to boil them. Remember, you can still break the seeds before they even come out of the shell!
- The Hack and Boil: If you have a food processor you can throw the cleaned seeds in and crank it on for a second or two. This will hack away at the outer shell. After, pour the slashed shells into a pot of boiling water and watch the seeds come out of the shell and sink to the bottom. Just skim the shells off the top and drain the seeds from the pot. Pro-Tip: This method is great for raw seeds as the shells are a bit tougher and not as easily damaged in a food processor as they would be if they were dry or hard.
These techniques work the best if you are trying to get a large amount of pumpkin seeds out of the shell but dont have the time to spend all day doing it one by one. Another great thing about these techniques is that it allows you to easily collect the outer shells which are perfect for adding to your compost.
I have tried all these ways and I barely get any pumpkin seeds out of the shells, what do I do?
The process of getting seeds out of the shell is complicated and time-consuming. If you aren’t a major seed producer then you probably won’t have a shelling machine lying around to help you out. If you just love the taste of pumpkin seeds but can’t get the process down to do it for yourself then consider the following options:
- Purchase pumpkin seeds from a local farmer or grocery store. These often come without the shells and in a variety of flavors and sizes that are perfect for eating right out of the bag or for mixing into your favorite recipes.
- Purchase varieties of pumpkins that grow seeds without the shells. This makes it a lot easier to carve the pumpkin up and get the seeds for yourself. After you have gotten the seeds out of the pumpkin you just clean and dry them. Easy!
- Attempt to shell different varieties of pumpkin seeds that have larger shells or seeds. Pumpkins come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and varieties. Some pumpkins have larger more full seeds that might be easier to work with. Carving pumpkins that typically get used on Halloween for instance tend to have very flat seeds that make getting the seed out of the shell difficult. While other varieties of pumpkin like the Atlantic Giant – tend to have larger seeds that make roasting and shelling a lot easier.
The best advice we can offer is this: Try out many ways to see what technique works best for you for the purpose of getting the pumpkin seed out of the shell. It will help you manage your time and allow you to get as many whole pumpkin seeds out of the shell as you can. With all those new pumpkin seeds you will be able to spice up your favorite recipes, add some protein and fiber to your diet, and finally have something to do with one of the most enjoyable parts of a pumpkin.
We hope you enjoyed learning all the different ways to get a pumpkin seed out of the shell. If you liked this article click like and share or let us know what you think – and even your own techniques for getting pumpkin seeds out of the shell – in the comments below.