A few months ago, when it was still lovely and warm and light outside, we had some massive roadwork happen just outside our apartment. It was a bit of a mess, but really, because we drive bicycles rather than cars, we were largely unaffected. We also knew, because this work was happening one block at a time and we’d seen it happen down the street, that once it was all said and done we’d be getting trees on our street.
The roadwork finished up, and big holes were made for the trees and their roots. We figured they would go in right away, it being the end of July and there being plenty of warmth and light to go around, but time kept ticking by. Eventually we figured they must be waiting until spring rolled around to plant the new trees, a sensible decision given the winters we have here. So you can imagine my surprise when I woke up yesterday morning, half way through my least favourite month of the year, to find a newly planted ginkgo tree outside my living room window.
It seems like a terribly unseasonable decision, but I’ve been told the new trees will make it through the winter just fine.
Not at all unseasonable is this delicious pumpkin-seed butter.
(how’s that for a segue?!)
I have a little notebook where I write recipe notes and ideas for things I want to make for the blog, and I have no idea how long ago I wrote pumpkin-seed butter in there. It’s taken me some time to get around to making this, but it won’t take me so long to do it again because it’s goooood!
Pumpkin seeds are attributed with all kinds of health benefits when consumed in moderation. They have anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties, along with being a rich source of zinc, magnesium, and protein. They have very low instances of allergic reactions, so if you’ve got someone in your family who is sensitive to nuts, this pumpkin seed butter could be a good alternative to peanut butter. If you live in a northern climate, like I do, peanuts probably don’t grow very near by, but pumpkins do! Check the source of your seeds, though, as I just read that China is one of the top producers of pumpkin seeds, and there are some very questionable agricultural and food safety practices coming out of that part of the world.
I lightly toasted my pumpkin seeds to bring out the nutty flavours of the oil. They get cooled, then swirl around in a food processor for a while. If you find after a while, as I did, that the butter isn’t coming together like it should, you can add a few drops of a neutral flavoured oil or nut oil. I used a touch of almond oil, which I brought back from my recent trip to Palma. I also added a bit of smoked salt, which adds a subtle but delightful smokiness to the butter.
This stuff is great on crackers, on toast, basically in any application you’d normally use peanut butter. It’s fast and easy to make, and I think it would make a great homemade gift. I hope you give it a try!
Also delicious? This home made almond butter with vanilla and sea salt.
One year ago: Roasted Kale and Sweet Potato Salad and Whole Wheat Spaghettini with Harissa Roasted Cauliflower
Two years ago: Thursday Night Fry and Oat Bars (with apple butter!)
Three years ago: Curried Potato Chickpea Patties and Winter Market Soup
Pumpkin-Seed Butter Recipe:
I gave my pumpkin seeds a light toasting to bring out the flavour, and it did it stove top because I was multi-tasking and wanted to keep a good eye on them. Using the oven is fine as well, the important thing is to keep the temperature low – 160-170F / 75C – for no more than 20 minutes to avoid damaging the unsaturated fats while bringing out the nutty flavour of the oils. You can, of course, leave the seeds raw if you like.
2 cups / 350g raw pumpkin seeds
1-2 tsp neutral flavoured vegetable or nut oil, if needed
1-2 tsp coarse salt, kosher, sea, or smoked if you have it
Start by toasting your seeds. Use a dry frying pan (no oil!) over medium heat, stirring occasionally so they don’t burn. Toast for around 15 minutes, until you see the seeds browning slightly and smell the nutty oils. Or, toast in the oven with the seeds spread out on a baking sheet, stirring occasionally. See headnote regarding the temperature. Allow the seeds to cool slightly.
Transfer the seeds into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse it a few times, then start running continuously. You’ll need to stop and scrape the sides and bottom every once in a while. At around the 5 minute mark the seeds should have gone from crumbly into a bit of a paste. Keep running and scraping until it loosens up and becomes a smooth butter. If it is still quite stiff, as mine was, add a bit of oil a half teaspoon at a time until it has reached the right consistency. Add the salt, 1 tsp at a time, and tasting between each addition.
Scrape the pumpkin-seed butter into a clean jar. You can store in the cupboard (2 weeks) or in the refrigerator (2 months).
Pumpkin seeds are a very good source of phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese, which. They are also a good source of other minerals including zinc, copper, and iron. Additionally, pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein. Pumpkin seeds have long been valued for their anti-microbial benefits, including their anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. Research points to the role of unique proteins in pumpkin seeds as the source of many antimicrobial benefits.
All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2013