28 November 2008

The Naked-Seeded Pumpkin

The story of a pumpkin. In 2007 I grew pie pumpkins, because I love pumpkin pie, and other pumpkin related deserts. When I saw the Naked-Seeded Pumpkin in a seed catalogue in the spring of this year, I was delighted. There are no nut-trees on our property, and sunflower seeds are difficult to hull, if you can beat the birds to the harvest, so we have little in the way of nuts and seeds in our diet. I really only miss them in dessert recipes that call for walnuts or almonds. I figured I could substitute pumpkin seeds, and seeing as they are easy to grow, and easy to harvest, along with the benefit of using the flesh as well as the seed, I knew this was a pumpkin variety for our garden.

We started our seedlings indoors, in late April, and transplanted 10 pumpkin seedlings into the garden June 7th. The plants grew vigorously, and resisted powdery mildew, despite the moderately high numbers of cucumber beetles (who transmit the mildew). Each plant only put out about two fruit, that had a chance of making it in our short season. But they were also planted in new ground, and had too much weed competition for their liking. In well-tended ground, the yeild would be double. But the pumpkins were large, and while the butternut and curry squash were ripening, they were still green and growing. I had to pick them green, late one evening with a heavy frost settling.
But of course I was anxious to try them, and open one up to see what kind of seed harvest I could expect. Even green, the flesh was tasty, not something I would eat mashed as a vegetable, but great in desserts.
The seeds were easy to seperate out of the pulp. Washed and weighed raw, one pumpkin yeilded 150g of seed (just over 1/4lb). And the seeds were delicious. Once dried for storage they lost about half of their weight. Each pumpkin has yeilded between 75-100g of dried pumpkin seed. So five or six pumpkins would yeild a pound of dried seeds. Along with about 8lbs of flesh on each pumpkin. From ten plants I harvested 150 lbs of pumpkin flesh and will probably get about 2 1/2 lbs dried seed.
The pumpkins ripened in the curing process, and are storing very well, even better than the butternut squash. I roast a whole pumpkin, cuting it open first to collect the seeds, wash and let the seeds dry in a warmish dry place (same as for seed saving) for about a week. Then I scrape out the cooked flesh, mash it with a potato masher, and store it in jars in the refriderator (or cooler in my case), until I use it all up, and cook another. I am hooked on pumpkin cookies and cakes. And until the goats have their kids, we are without milk, hence without pumpkin pie. Organic rice milk doesn't really cut it as a substitute! But these pumpkin cookies have been our power bars, giving us that extra energy for a bike ride home.

Here's my recipe:
mix together
2 cups cooked mashed pumpkin
1/2 to 1 cup sugar or honey (depending on your taste, I tend to like less sweet than too sweet)
1 or 2 eggs (depending on the hens)
1/2 cup if 2 eggs, 3/4 cup if 1 egg, oil or butter

mix seperately
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats (optional)
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2-4 tbsp ground pumpkin seed (either mixed in, or as topping--see below)
cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom (mix and match to your taste)

Stir dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture. Drop by spoonful onto greased cookie sheets, or pour into greased and floured cake pan. Bake 15-20 min at 325-350 for cookies. Bake 30-40 min at 325-350 for cake.

So far I have about a pound of dried pumpkin seeds. I have put them into bread, as well as cookies and deserts. They make a good snack, and are delicious in granola or oatmeal. They would make a nice addition to cracker recipes, and could be used in pasta sauces or other dishes. Let me know if you think of a good way to enjoy pumpkin seeds.

I thought I would show a picture of my roller mill. This is what I use mostly to grind anything from flour to oats to pumpkin seeds. It has different settings, and is geared, for easy grinding. I took the picture with the hopper off to show the stainless steel rollers.

Here's one of the pumpkin cakes, I made them short to bake quickly. The pumpkin seed topping is made with 2 tbsp ground pumpkin seed, 2 tbsp sugar or honey, and enough olive oil (or butter) to grease it up. Sprinkle on top of unbaked cake.


Susy said...

very interesting.

I've been saving all the seeds from all of my squashs (butternut, pumpkins, acorn, delicata) and I roast them up and throw them in a bowl. While we sit around in the evening we crack them open (with out teeth) and eat the seeds. I'll have to try to grow these naked pumpkin next year. Then I can put all my other seeds out for the birds.

el said...

Wow, the idea of actually SAVING the seeds and not roasting and eating them immediately!! I love how versatile pumpkins are and have likewise been experimenting, as you have been, with using the puree in lieu of eggs in other recipes. I grow a couple of pie pumpkin varieties every year but next year I plan to branch out and try a pumpkin substitute: sweet meat winter squash. It's fairly prolific and the fruit keeps most of the winter, which is definitely not the case for me for the pumpkins and butternuts I grow. But I might just need to try these too, so thanks, Freija!

Freija and Beringian Fritillary said...

Susy, now that I have these naked seeds, I have gotten lazy with eating the squash seeds and just feed them to the chickens or goats. Actually the goats love them.

El, roasted pumpkin seeds are a treat! But I have been squirelling mine away. These pumpkins are keeping really well, I have given up on butternut. Our season is not long enough, and they just don't keep. I also have a curry squash, a winter squash variety, very deep orange flesh, dense and fine grained. They are about 3-4lbs which means that they ripen well in our season, and put on a good thick skin. So the curry squash will keep through to spring.

I saw the sweet meat squashes on Trapper Creek's blog. They look beautiful. And great keepers. I would be worried that I couldn't ripen a squash of that size up here. Not without a greenhouse anyway.