I think my cows’ favorite time of year are the post Halloween weeks. Not only do they get all the moldy jack ‘o lanterns, but they also get all the left-over squash, gourds and pumpkins that weren’t carved or sold at the market. Before we make bovine meals out of the unused orange fruits, however, we always cut them open to save the seeds.
Pumpkin seed saving is a great way to get a jump start on the following year, as it means not having to order from the seed company and wait for the seeds to arrive. Best of all, the seeds you save yourself are free. Seed saving can also produce some very odd squash and pumpkin varieties when seeds are saved from different types that were perhaps grown too closely together in a particular year. And if you save your seeds year after year, you’ll always know what type of pumpkins you have.
If you want pumpkins and squash that will be true to seed, try a quick internet search to be sure that the seeds from your particular pumpkin won’t revert back the mothering gene. As makes sense, take seeds from the pumpkins you want to produce. If you want big pumpkins next year, take them from big pumpkins this year, if you want smaller pumpkins next year, take them from smaller pumpkins this year. Of course growing conditions will always have a large effect on pumpkins, but it’s best to at least start with what you want if you hope to have a chance of finishing with what you want.
To save seeds, fill a dish with lukewarm water. Cut a pumpkin in half and start pulling out the seeds with your fingers. Only take seeds that are plump and unsprouted, avoid any thin, papery seeds. Put the seeds into the bowl of water and knead them through the liquid to wash them free of the pumpkin gook.
Lay parchment paper on a cookie tray. Using your fingers as a strainer, pull handfuls of pumpkin seeds out of the dish and spread them across the cookie tray. Leave the cookie tray in a dry area and stir the seeds around every few days to ensure that they dry evenly. Once completely dry, store the seeds in a canning jar until spring planting.
As an added bonus, when you’re pumpkin saving seeds, you can also make a healthy snack of roasted pumpkin seeds, or wait until the seeds are dry and cover them in chocolate.
Copyright © Amber Reifsteck ~ The Woodland Elf – Originally published Nov 25, 2010