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Don't throw away those pumpkin seeds

If you are into preparing locally grown food and some easy basic food preparation, now is the time to make the most of locally grown pumpkins.

One fun, tasty byproduct of preparing pumpkins and squash are roasting or toasting the seeds. Toasted pumpkin seeds are the most popular, but butternut, acorn, Hubbard and any other varieties of squash are also delicious.

To dry the seeds, carefully wash and remove the clinging fibrous tissue. Dry with a towel to remove as much moisture as possible and then dry the seeds in the oven at the lowest setting for one to two hours until crisp. Remember to stir frequently to prevent scorching.

Dried seeds can then be roasted by tossing them lightly with 1½ tablespoons oil or melted butter or margarine and ½ teaspoon salt or less for every two cups of seeds. Spread them in a shallow pan and bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Make the most of pumpkins and squash. Rinse the pumpkin and if you cannot cut it to remove the seeds, poke some holes in it with a fork and microwave on high for about five minutes. Remove the pumpkin or squash with hot pads. This will make it easier to cut it in two and remove the seeds and fiber.

Once it’s cut, you can continue to cook it in the microwave or place it skin side up in a casserole dish for baking in the oven at 350 degrees. You could even place it in the slow cooker with just a small amount of water. The pumpkin needs to cook until it is soft, so the time it takes is determined by the size of the pumpkin.

Once the pumpkin is soft, the skin usually peels or slides right off. It’s easier on the hands if you let the pumpkin cool some before removing the outer skin.

Once the pumpkin is cooked you can mash it, put it in a food processor or use a heavy duty spoon and give many good stirs so it is smooth. Once you have the pumpkin to this stage, you can continue to let your creative food preparation ideas flourish.

For more recipes and tips from Purdue Extension Educator Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross, subscribe to the Food & Nutrition email newsletter.

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