Over the last few years, we have been seeing increasing demand for seeds in general, but with Halloween here and many of us sitting surrounded by pumpkin seeds from making a jack-o’-lantern, it seems the perfect time to shine a light on this highly versatile seed.
American in origin, pumpkins are a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, which includes squash, cantaloupes, cucumbers, watermelons, and gourds.
These small, often discarded seeds are nutritional powerhouses. A good source of unsaturated fats, including alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), there has been evidence that eating pumpkin seeds as part of a balanced diet may well be beneficial for the heart and can support the prevention of cardiovascular disease due to their ALA content.
They are also a good source of omega-3, full of protein, and high in antioxidants, all of which are important to increasingly health-focused consumers.
At home, pumpkin seeds can be rinsed, seasoned, and roasted with olive oil for a simple, delicious and nutritious snack. In an NPD kitchen, they can be used to create a range of tasty and nutritious sweet and savoury products. Before we look at where they can be used, let’s look at the different varieties.
Types of pumpkin seeds
There are three types of pumpkin seeds: in-shell, shine skin and grown without shell (GWS). These are available in two different grades. AA grade seeds are uniform in size and colour while A grade seeds have greater colour and size variation.
There are a number of in-shell varieties, which include Lady Finger and Snow White Seed. The Snow White pumpkin has big kernels that are white in colour and are the seeds of Cucurbitaceae squash, while the Lady Finger is a flattened oblong shape that is a good source of fatty and amino acids.
With a name deriving from their shiny surface, shine skin pumpkin seeds are commonly grown for sale in-shell and bakery use with the seeds de-hulled from the shell. Traditionally grown in China, the increased demand for this variety has seen them being cultivated in an increasing number of regions.
Grown without shell (GWS)
These hull-less seeds come from a specific type of winter squash known as oil seed pumpkins or Styrian pumpkins and are historically the most widely in-demand pumpkin seed in mainland Europe.
GWS pumpkin seeds are flat, oval-shaped green seeds with a point at one end. Instead of the hard white seed coating that you see in standard Halloween pumpkins, these have a darker kernel and a very delicate skin on the seeds that come off easily.
Technically, the seeds with hulls and the hull-less pumpkin seeds can both be called pumpkin seeds or pepitas, but when someone says pepitas, most people will think of the naked seeds.
In many applications, GWS and hulled shine skin seeds can be used interchangeably, as typically the only difference is the green hue.
What can pumpkin seeds add to your products?
Pumpkin seeds are highly versatile and carry with them many in-demand health claims. They are regularly used as a topper for bread and we’re seeing them being used more and more as a yoghurt topper, too. They can add extra crunch to a granola, enhance the nutritional value of baked goods, they make a great addition to cereal bars and we’re even spotting them in soups.
If you are looking to add seeds to your products, then pumpkin seeds are an essential ingredient to consider, either as a stand-alone product or as part of a blend.
To find out more about what we can do with these nutrition-packed seeds, or our seed blending capabilities, contact us today.