Monday, October 21, 2013

Sweet Roasted Pumpkin Seeds & One Foxy Pumpkin

Ring ding ding ding ding ding ding!

October is a special time of year for many reasons - autumn colors, pumpkin-flavored everything and, of course, jack-o-lanterns! Carving your very own pumpkin is a fun and creative task in and of itself, but it doesn't have to end there. Indeed, what about the pumpkin's insides? No need to throw those delicious seeds out, try roasting them for a tasty and healthy snack! Or even better... try making a tasty and slightly less healthy twist on the classic - kettle seeds! 

The Great Pumpkin

First things first, to make an epic jack-o-lantern and your delicious roasted pumpkin seeds, you need a pumpkin. I chose this 18 pound beauty seen above. After selecting your prize pumpkin, it's time to gather your tools and prepare for battle. I like a classic bluntly serrated pumpkin knife for general carving, a sharper knife for detail work and a pencil for sketching my design. The toothpicks are for later.

The pumpkin's maw.

A neat and useful trick at this point, is to carve the initial hole out of the back of the pumpkin instead of the top. While you don't have that stem as a handle, you also don't have to worry about burning your hand when it comes time to put the candle in the jack-o-lantern. Surprisingly, the lack of handle makes almost no difference. Once you have the piece carved it slides in and out of place easily.

A pumpkin fit for a princess.

Now it's time for the gutting. That may sound a bit gross, but if ever there's a time for it, it's Halloween. I won't lie to you, this part is messy, but it smells so fresh and good that the slime is rather fun once you get used to it! 

Foxy!

For my jack-o-lantern design, I was inspired by the recent internet craze, involving forest raves and a mysterious red-furred woodland creature. I know, I couldn't help myself. 

Mysterious as the dark side of the pumpkin.

Since I chopped the back out of the pumpkin already, I was able to use this piece to cut out ears, a snout and a tail for my pumpkin fox, all of which I applied by toothpick. I carved some eyes and whiskers for the candlelight to show through and scraped off some pumpkin skin to show the white rind beneath for the fox's front whiskers and eyebrows. All that's missing is a soundtrack... 

As for those pumpkin seeds!

Seems a bit seedy to me...

It's easiest to separate most of the innards from the seeds while you're in the process of pulling them out. I had one bag just for pumpkin guts, while another bowl was just for the seeds and whatever little bits of orange goop stuck to them. After most of it's been removed, rinse the remaining dregs of goop off in a colander. Clean seeds are the best! 

Fun fact: the seeds float until they're saturated!

After the seeds are clean, set them in a pot to simmer for about 20 minutes in salted water. This helps in the cleaning process and imbues them with some tasty flavor. Once they're done with their salt water bath, set the seeds on paper towels to dry. Some people let this stage take all night, but I'm not one to wait for roasted pumpkin seeds. 

Sweet deal!

Once the seeds are reasonably dry, toss in a tablespoon or so of vegetable or olive oil and around a teaspoon of salt. (Amounts will vary depending on how many seeds your pumpkin yields. Feel free to eyeball it and taste-test until you find the ratio you like best.) To make the elusive KETTLE SEEDS, add about a tablespoon of sugar in the mix!

I admit that name Kettle Seeds is quite misleading because the pumpkin seeds never went near a kettle, but it's more in reference to their sweet snack cousin, kettle corn, so whatever.

Toasty!

Once all the seeds are coated (either in oil and salt or with additional sugar) dump them onto a foil coated cookie sheet (thus avoiding future dish washing) and spread them out to avoid overlap wherever possible. I separated my pan in two parts with a strip of foil as I was making roasted seeds and kettle seeds in the same batch.

Roasted pumpkin seeds and their caramelized kin, kettle seeds.

Bake the pumpkin seeds at 325° for about 10 minutes, stir the seeds around and return to the oven for about 10 more minutes. Once the seeds are just barely showing a hint of golden brownness, they should be done and ready for you and your Fox-o-lantern to enjoy! 

What does the fox say?
Yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum!

For more festive autumnal time blogs, check out the recipe for Pumpkindoodles, the Peanuts themed Harvest Festival Cut-Out Board, more than a decade's worth of Halloween Costume Art and the latest installment, Halloween 2016: Costume pARTy!

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