Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Toasted Squash or Pumpkin Seeds

Delicata squash seeds have such thin tender shells, that when you roast them they become frangible as parchment, and you can easily eat them whole. Other squashes have tougher hulls, and might require a two-part shell-and-eat procedure. All squash seeds are good enough to be worth keeping and roasting, and some are outstanding. The musquee de Provence pumpkin I cooked yesterday is an unusually vividly flavored pumpkin with some unusually vividly flavored seeds. I have been nibbling at them all day.

Here’s where a lot of folks go wrong in toasting pumpkins. You have to cook them first. This salts them and softens them up, and you get some wonderful pumpkin seed broth to add to your current soup.

Toasted Squash or Pumpkin Seeds

Remove seeds from the seed cavity and try to pull off some of the fibers clinging to them. You will not be able to get them all, but that is fine. Boil the seeds in a sauce pan in heavily salted water for twenty minutes for smallish seeds, or about 30-40 minutes for larger, tougher seeds. Drain the seeds and reserve the seed-stock for soup. You will now be able to remove much more of the squash fibers around the seeds. Heat the oven to 350. Spread the seeds on a parchment-lined sheet pan and toast them for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring them once or twice so that they brown evenly. When they are done, the last bit of squash fiber will break right off.

In Yiddish seeds frequently have idiomatic names of their own. Sunflowers are זונרױזן (zunroyzn), and sunflower seeds areסעמישקעס (semishkes); hemp is קאָנאָפּליע (konoplye), and hemp seeds are קאָנאָפּליעס (konoplyes). Poppy seeds מאָן (mon), and caraway seeds קימל (kiml) also have idionyms in Yiddish. I would have imagined there would be a special word for pumpkin seeds, but so far, the only one I have encountered is קירבעס קערעלעך (kirbes kerelekh), which just means squash seeds.

(11/15 ETA:) Mayer Kirshenblatt recalls that pumpkin seeds were a popular snack in Apt between the wars (Kirshenblatt, Mayer, and Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, They Called Me Meyer July, Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press, 2007, p140). According to Kirshenblatt, they are called באניע קערן (banye kern).

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Nomi said...

In English sometimes the names for seeds are also quite different from the name for the plant or flower they come from. We call both pumpkin and other squash seeds "pepitas." Don't know why.

8:29 PM  
Blogger abigezunt said...

that was a super helpful tip about cooking the seeds before roasting them! i always wondered what i was doing wrong!

thanks!

8:59 AM  
Blogger the chocolate lady מרת שאקאלאד said...

nomi,
by "we" do you mean folks in canada, or folks on the west coast, or just you and mine-freyde? Maybe in the west we use the spanish word, which is one of the cognates for squash (cucurbita pepo)

abigezunt,
i hope you have beter luck with this recipe!

12:03 PM  

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