The best way to clean a pumpkin depends on how you are going to use it. For example, cleaning it in anticipation of carving it for Halloween is different than cleaning it to make a pie. It also depends on the type pumpkin of pumpkin you have.
For example, sugar pumpkins for pie are smaller, and can generally be cut into quarters and cleaned out by hand. Large, Jack O’ Lantern type pumpkins are best cleaned out by cutting a hole in the top and scooping the seeds out with a spoon. Small decorative pumpkins do not need cleaning at all!
How to Separate the Pumpkin Seeds
The more significant dilemma for most people is how to separate the pumpkin seeds from the slimy strings they are attached to. Whether you cut the pumpkin into quarters or scoop it out from the top, there is always a mess of pumpkin guts and slime to contend with, especially if you want to use the seeds.
The Water Method
With the water method, scoop out all of the seeds and guts of the pumpkin. Pick out as many large chunks of pumpkin and string as possible, then dump the remaining mess into a large bowl of water.
Stir the seeds and water with your hand and then let settle. The seeds will float to the top of the water while the detritus of the pumpkin will sink to the bottom of the bowl.
Repeat this process several times until all of the seeds are free of the pumpkin pulp. Rinse one more time under running water and proceed to roast or save the seeds.
The Drying Method
If time permits, instead of dumping the seeds and pulp into a bowl of water, you can spread them out on a sheet of newspaper to dry overnight. Stir the mess occasionally to allow the pumpkin fibers to dry.
After the strings and pulp have dried, it is a natural endeavor to pick the seeds out by hand. The slime will have dissipated which makes the seeds much simpler to pick up by hand.
Tip: The strings and small bits of pumpkin do not need to dry completely, just enough to make the seeds easy to pick through.
How Can I Use the Seeds?
Most people either roast the pumpkin seeds or salt and dry them to eat raw. Pumpkin sprouts can also be eaten in salads or on sandwiches.
You can also save the pumpkin seeds to plant in the garden next spring. It is a simple process to dry them for planting.
Spread clean seeds on a paper towel or newspaper.
Lay in a warm area out of the sunlight.
Turn seeds over daily to dry completely.
Once seeds are dry, store in a paper bag in the fridge until planting time.
Tip: Any pumpkin variety can be planted again from saved seed.
Regardless whether you are saving the seeds to plant again or roasting them to eat as a snack, once you know how to separate the pumpkin seeds will be much easier!