Although native to North America, pumpkins are grown all over the world. In the U.S., about 1.5 billion pounds are grown each year, primarily in Illinois, California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Michigan. Pumpkins are harvested from late September to early October.
Their edible seeds, also known as pepitas, take on a rich, nutty flavor of their own when roasted, and can be seasoned in numerous ways to suit any taste. It’s worth taking a few minutes to boil the seeds prior to roasting: they’ll be a little softer going into the oven, resulting in a crisp, rather than chewy texture. It also helps to remove the stringy fibers attached to the seeds before roasting. After boiling, giving the seeds a quick sauté kick-starts their flavor and helps the seasoning adhere to the seeds.
Use a rimmed baking pan to roast the seeds so they can’t slide off. Lining the pan with parchment paper means easy cleanup, and baking a different flavor of seeds is as simple as putting down a fresh sheet of parchment.
Keep in mind that the roasted seeds will become crisper as they cool. Once they are completely cooled, store them in a tightly sealed container at room temperature up to a week or in the refrigerator up to two months. Snack on them, use the seeds as croutons, or use them as an all-purpose garnish. Pick up a few extra pumpkins to enjoy homemade pumpkin seeds throughout the fall, just make sure to store the pumpkins away from direct sunlight for up to three months.