Locally grown pumpkins are widely available at farm stands, farmers’ markets, and pick-your-own farms each autumn. When you buy pumpkins from local farms, you’re likely to find many varieties from which to choose. If you’re looking for a pumpkin to carve into a jack-o-lantern, then simply choose the shape, size, and color you wish. But many people also love to bake pumpkins into pies, breads, cookies, and other delicacies.
Try the Pumpkin Seeds!
Pumpkins come in so many shapes, sizes, and colors. Did you know the pumpkin seeds are also edible?
You can enjoy eating seeds from any pumpkin. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein, and other minerals like manganese and iron. Eating the seeds raw provides the most nutritional value, while roasting adds flavors. Pumpkin seeds are a great addition to soups, salad and pasta or enjoyed on their own. Either roasted, dried or raw pumpkin seeds are a delicious and nutritious snack to add to your spooky spread.
If you have access to a variety of specialty pumpkins, try looking for a Kakai pumpkin for dark green, hull-less seeds. Kakai seeds can be eaten raw or roasted. On average these pumpkins yield a cup of seeds, while larger ones may provide two cups or more. Or if you are looking for a nutty flavor, try the Lady Godiva. Both Kakai and Lady Godiva seeds are hull-less (“naked”) and can be enjoyed raw, roasted, or dried. (These varieties are grown especially for their seeds; the flesh isn’t as flavorful for baking as typical “pie pumpkins.”)
How to Prepare Your Pumpkin Seeds
Preparing pumpkin seeds is easy to do. Make sure the fruit you select (pumpkins are fruits, after all!) is fresh and undamaged. Scoop out the seeds, wash them thoroughly, then roast until golden brown. Add seasonings to taste. Consider sampling the seeds of different varieties, too – each one is a little different. Plan to set aside the seeds from your jack-o-lantern carving session, or snack on the seeds from your pie pumpkins. Pumpkins store well, and can be kept fresh into the fall, but prepare and consume the seeds promptly once the pumpkin has been opened.
Socially distanced “Pumpkin Chunkin” will be happening this year in southern Maine in Dayton – bring your face covering and come watch pumpkins get catapulted through the air! Unfortunately it was cancelled for 2020, but another favorite Maine way to celebrate fall is the Damariscotta Pumpkinfest and Regatta. Pumpkin fans love to stroll Damariscotta’s Main Street display of extra-large decorated pumpkins, and to catch the famous Pumpkin Regatta. These and other fall events will be back for 2021!