Dry-roasted organic pumpkin seeds are available for sale in many supermarkets, and sometimes even at convenience stores. People who garden may also grow pumpkins organically themselves and then try their hand at making their own; the process is quite simple. In either case, the end result is a delicious, relatively healthy snack. Gardeners interested in growing their own pumpkins can grow them successfully throughout most of the U.S.; however, they require a lot of space.
Pumpkin seeds come from true pumpkins, also known as Cucurbita pepo. Other members of the Cucurbita genus include cucumbers and squash, which are related, but are not pumpkins themselves. Each fruit on a pumpkin vine produces many seeds, sometimes hundreds if the pumpkins are very large. They are held inside each fruit in a mass of moist, pulpy matter inside the flesh. They can be dried and stored for planting during the next planting season, but are more commonly dried, roasted, and perhaps salted, as a human snack food.
Organic pumpkin seeds come from organically grown pumpkins. Pumpkins grown in this manner are not exposed to anything that is not naturally derived. No synthetic fertilizers, soil additives, or pesticides are used during the production of these pumpkins. Instead, organic soil amendments such as compost and manure are used. Application of mulch helps keep weeds down while retaining moisture for the plants, without the need for chemical weed killers. Organic pesticides may be used, such as insecticidal soaps and naturally derived chemicals such as rotenone, but no synthetic chemicals are allowed. Only when grown in this manner are pumpkins and their seeds considered organic.
Dry Roasting Process
Drying and roasting are actually two separate processes. First, pumpkin seeds are removed from the pulp inside pumpkins. They are rinsed with water to remove all remaining pumpkin matter. Then they are laid out in a single layer on paper or paper towels to dry for at least 24 hours. Alternately, they can be placed inside a dehydrator at 120 degrees, but a dehydrator is not strictly necessary. After they have been allowed to fully dry, they are roasted in a low oven (200 degrees Fahrenheit, or thereabouts) until they are light brown and toasty. Salt or other powdered flavorings may be added directly after roasting. Roasting releases natural oils within the seeds that help salt and other flavoring agents better adhere to the seeds without the need for added oil or fat.
It is important to note that "dry roasting" is different from merely "roasting." In traditional roasting, some oil may be used---even if it is only a very small amount. Dry roasting is typically oil-free. Additionally, when dry-roasted organic pumpkin seeds are sold in packages, all parts of the process up until they are placed for sale must be organic, not just the pumpkin-growing process.
Dry-roasted organic pumpkin seeds are a healthy, chemical-free snack with few calories. They are a tasty, crunchy, nutty alternative to less healthy snack foods. They are ideal for someone who is worried about fat consumption, since no oil is used to roast them. Individuals who need to limit sodium in their diets should opt for varieties that have little or no salt.