What to do with pumpkin seeds

Children carving pumpkins
Save the seeds from your pumpkins and get creative (Photo: iStock.com/mediaphotos)

Halloween is just around the corner and soon you’ll be carving your pumpkin. Don’t waste all those seeds you’ve scooped out of the middle – we have some ideas to help you put them to good use.

Toasted pumpkin seeds with cinnamon

Pumpkin seeds make a scrummy snack, and they’re packed with protein and minerals so they’re healthy too. Just go easy on the sugar!

You will need:

  • a small bowl of pumpkin seeds
  • a tablespoon of butter
  • soft brown sugar for sprinkling
  • ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon.

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4.

2. Wipe the stringy yellow stuff off the seeds, rinse and dry them.

3. Melt the butter in a small saucepan (get a grown-up to help with this).

4. Pour the melted butter onto the seeds, add the sugar and cinnamon, and mix so they’re coated. Check the taste at this point.

5. Spread them on a baking tray in a single layer.

6. Bake in the oven for around ten minutes, or until they’re golden brown. Let them cool down before you tuck in. Yum!

Do birds eat pumpkin seeds?

Pumpkin pulp
Save your seeds! (Photo: iStock.com/rez-art)

Birds love pumpkin seeds too, although for small birds it’s best to toast them (without the sugary coating) and break them up a bit so they’re not too big for tiny beaks.

You can use pumpkin seeds as an ingredient in bird cake. Just add them to other goodies, such as chopped nuts, cooked rice, uncooked oats and bits of dried fruit. Then mix it all together with suet or lard until it’s a squidgy lump. Don’t use soft fats, such as butter or margarine, as they can clog up birds’ feathers and make it hard for them to fly.

Or you could serve up the seeds in our simple birdseed feeder. If squirrels visit your garden, check out our ideas for how to make it squirrel-proof too.

Create some pumpkin seed crafts

First, you need to turn the seeds lots of lovely colours. You could paint them and let them dry, but we think it’s more fun to dye them with food colour.

1. Make a dye base by mixing water with white vinegar – two tablespoons of vinegar to a cup of water is about right.

2. Divide the liquid into smaller containers, and add a few drops of food colour to each.

3. Soak the pumpkins seeds in the dye overnight. Then put them on kitchen paper to dry.

Now you’re ready to get crafting! Here are some things to try:

  • Make a pretty, pumpkin seed necklace or bracelet by threading together seeds of different colours. You’ll need a sharp needle so be careful – best to get a grown up to help.
  • Create an autumn tree collage. You’ll need to dye lots of seeds in lovely, autumnal colours for this. Just draw a tree trunk and branches on a piece of paper, and then glue on the pumpkin seed ‘leaves’. Don’t forget that some leaves will be falling and settling on the ground too.
  • How about a pumpkin seed flower picture to remind you of summer? The seeds are perfect for petals so you could make a whole garden. Perhaps use some coloured dot stickers or even some small buttons for the flower centres.
  • Make a colourful mosaic by rolling out a sheet of modelling clay with a rolling pin and pressing the seeds into it. Can you create a beautiful bird, or a minibeast? Just make an outline in the clay with a sharp pencil and then have fun filling it in with the seeds.

Don’t forget to share your pumpkin seed ideas, and pictures of what you’ve made with them, at #NatureDetectives.

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What did you make?

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