Squash is easy to grow and can be used in many different recipes. But when you clean a squash, you are left with the seeds. Do you need to toss them or can you eat them as well? Are you leaving good nutrition and an enjoyable snack in the trash?
Edible Squash Seeds
Yes, all squash seeds are edible and have nutritional value. You can eat the seeds from butternut squash, acorn squash, and spaghetti squash. You can use them just like you would pumpkin seeds because pumpkins are also a variety of squash.
It's a shame to throw out squash seeds because they have a delightful nutty flavor. They can be roasted and salted, or, you can spice them. Either way, they're an enjoyable nutritional snack. While the squash seed shell (or hull) is edible, you may choose to boil or roast them and discard the hull and use just the kernel, known as pepitas. The kernels are often used in soups, salads, and desserts such as pepita brittle.
One of the prime advantages of roasted squash seeds is that they can be stored for long periods of time. Additionally, they can be kept at room temperature for up to three months. And, if you refrigerate or freeze them, they will last for as long as one year.
Nutrition in Squash Seeds
Squash seeds are an excellent source of fiber and protein, and far healthier than traditional snack food like chips and pretzels. They also contain iron and calcium and are considered to be high in magnesium. The oils in squash seeds are 75 percent linoleic acid and oleic acid, naturally polyunsaturated and monounsaturated.
Now, let's take a look at the calorie count for squash seeds and other valuable nutritional information. One cup of whole, roasted squash seeds has 285 calories, with 104 calories coming from fat. One cup contains 34 grams carbohydrate (of which 12 grams are fiber), 12 grams of protein, and 12 grams of fat. One cup provides you with 42 percent of your daily recommended value for magnesium, 12 percent of your daily recommended value for iron, and 4 percent for calcium, with a trace amount of Vitamin A.
Preparing Your Squash Seeds
The seeds of squash are embedded in the pulp in the middle of the squash. It's often stringy or slimy and will get discarded in the trash or compost. Just think back to your days of carving a pumpkin at Halloween, and you'll get a clear picture. To begin, remove the seeds from the pulp. You don't have to worry about getting them too clean before you roast them, any leftover pulp will add additional flavor.
Roasting Your Squash Seeds
All you need is a heat source in order to toast your squash seeds. People have been doing it for thousands of years using fire, and you have your choice of using the oven, toaster oven, a skillet, or the microwave. You can spice them using cinnamon or allspice and eat them salted or unsalted.
Hulling Squash Seeds for Pepitas
There are two methods for hulling squash seeds. Both ways are equally effective for getting to just the kernels for pepitas:
- Boil squash seeds in salted water for 10 minutes. Allow them to cool and then pinch out the seed.
- Take roasted, cooled squash seeds and pound them lightly between two sheets of wax paper. Remove the seed from each hull.