Food for Thought: Enjoy the seeds of the season – Osage County Online | Osage County News

Food for Thought: Enjoy the seeds of the season

By Nancy Schuster, Frontier Extension Agent

Food for Thought My interest was piqued when I was asked if acorn squash seeds were safe to roast and eat. This is the time of year when families are usually asking about roasting pumpkin seeds. What other plant seeds are safe to eat? I seemed to remember apple seeds are not for eating … directions for roasting pumpkin and squash seeds follow.

Don’t waste the seeds after cooking your pie or making jack-o-lanterns. Instead, roast and salt the seeds for a delicious and nutritious snack. Let the children slosh through the fibers in pursuit of the slippery seeds, it is so much fun.

Roasted squash or pumpkin seeds

1 quart water
2 tablespoons salt
2 cups pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon vegetable oil or melted, unsalted butter

  • Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
  • Pick through seeds and remove any cut seeds. Remove as much of the stringy fibers as possible.
  • Bring the water and salt to a boil. Add the seeds and boil for 10 minutes. Drain, spread on kitchen towel or paper towel and pat dry.
  • Place the seeds in a bowl and toss with oil or melted butter.
  • Spread evenly on a large cookie sheet or roasting pan.
  • Place pan in a preheated oven and roast the seeds for 30 to 40 minutes. Stir about every 10 minutes, until crisp and golden brown.
  • Cool the seeds; eat or pack in air-tight containers or zip closure bags and refrigerate until ready to eat.

The Internet is full of information on edible seeds but how many of them are research based? Texas A&M University has a May 2005 article on “Secondary Edible Parts of Vegetables”; that is my resource.

Most vegetables have one and sometimes two parts that are edible. Tomatoes are known for their fruit, turnips contribute its roots and leaves for eating. Some plants parts are not eaten for the reason they may not be a very tasty product or not have a favorable texture. Sometimes the plants parts may not be edible because they are poisonous.

Watermelon seeds are edible. Many people believe there is a health reason to eat the seeds and watermelon at the same time. Prepare watermelon seeds similar to squash and pumpkin seeds.

Then there are the obvious plant seeds that are edible: snap beans, lima beans, corn, cucumber, eggplant, okra, peas both English and Southern, and tomatoes. We eat them without even thinking. But I was interested in the “do not eat” seeds that come with our foods; those with a natural occurring poison.

Apples are one such fruit. Their pips (seeds) contain amygdalin, a cyanide and sugar compound that degrades into hydrogen cyanide when metabolized. Cyanide is a poison that kills by denying blood the ability to carry oxygen. Murder mystery stories like cyanide because once eaten there is no effective antidote. Lucky for apple eaters, our body can detoxify cyanide in small doses, the number of apple seeds it takes to cause death is extremely large. Apple pips have a tough protective coating and that makes them hard to swallow.

Cherry, peach, pear, plum and apricot pits also contain amygdalin in potentially harmful amounts. Fortunately peach and apricot pits are large and hard so few people intentionally swallow or chew them. It is interesting to note that a cheaper version of laetrile produced in Mexico comes from crushed apricot pits.

Just like edible plants in the wild, check to make sure the part of the plant you want to eat is safe. There simply are seeds and plants (and mushrooms) out there that we were not meant to eat.

schustersmNancy Schuster is a Frontier Extension District family and consumer science agent whose responsibilities include providing information about food safety, nutrition, food science and food preparation. She is based in the Garnett office of the Frontier Extension District and can be reached at 785-448-6826 or email [email protected].

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