Posted by: David | October 24, 2010

Punkin Gutz

So today was fun. With the idea of scoring a whole butt-load of pumpkin seeds, which, for a number of reasons are very important to me, I went to a nearby farm where they’ve been having this pumpkin carving event for about a decade now. See, I should’ve attended this event in the past, but never have. This farm and the family that runs it are the stuff of legend. They go way way back into town history, and represent the very best of the hard-working ideal to which we all should aspire. We’ve been buying horse hay from them for years. Firewood too. But today, chilly, overcast, and drizzly by afternoon, was all about pumpkin carving.

I arrived a little after 10 a.m. with my empty 5 gallon bucket, not knowing what to expect. I’d seen the thousands of pumpkins and other squashes gathered on their fields the weeks prior, as  their farm is on the way to the kids’ place over in Webster. Kids = our daughter and her husband, who are expecting to become parents themselves next March. Our daughter was good friendls with and did 4-H stuff with one of the young ladies of this farm family. They showed lambs together a few years at the Hopkinton Fair.

Anyway, they had their tents and tables and carving equipment all set out, and had already prepared a couple hundred pumpkins the day before. They were getting the rest of the pumpkins organized, sorted and moved into the area of business. The general public was invited to come and carve pumpkins starting at noon. Please bring your own carving tools and leave your dogs at home. The idea was to have all the pumpkins cleaned out and ready for the eager visitors to carve up as they saw fit, whereupon the jack-o-lanterns were hauled over to the several hay-bale and 2×12 display setups, festooned along the stonewall by the road, etc. Next week, candles will be placed in each one, for a display rivaling that of the Keene Pumpkin Festival. In spirit if not in number.

After an hour or so of moving various sizes of pumpkins around, I got started on the actual pumpkin “gutting” procedure. Having done this for years past, albeit on a much smaller scale, I was psyched. I expected the hand-numbing sensation that came after about an hour of scooping seeds between my fingers, flinging them into my bucket,  and scraping the fibrous orange goo from the October-chilled pumpkins. By the second and third hours the numbness gave way to a more thoroughly dead feeling where the skin of my fingers had maxed out on the cold and tingly. I tried putting on some rubber gloves at one point, but the pumpkin goo had infiltrated into my skin to the point where it was too sticky to allow the gloves to slide on. That and the gloves were just too small. So I plowed on …

Most of the pumpkins were already “topped”, which means that the circular entry cut was already made. I learned that in this particular case, a perfect circular cut is not desirable, but rather an asymmetric or “keyed” cut that allows the top to be removed for the placement of a lit candle, then easily re-oriented and replaced afterward. Ah, the things you learn. After about three hours, my bucket was about 3/4 full of seeds and my fingernails were starting to have some “sensations” . Not exactly pain, since my hands were thoroughly (but not comfortably) numb, but a feeling like something was being shoved under them.  By then it had begun to rain, and the couple of hundred people who’d come with kids of all ages to carve jack-o-lanterns had made a really good dent in punkin population. I “cleaned” my hands by swiping them over the wet grass a few times, then over my jeans. My hands were still a little sticky as they gripped the steering wheel, driving past the guys arranging the truckloads of jack-o-lanterns along the old stone wall by the roadside. I promise I will get some more pictures of this. Next weekend they will be lighting up all the jack-o-lanterns.


My big ‘ole bucket of seeds. I calculate that I cleaned nearly 100 pumpkins.

Tomorrow evening I must start roasting the seeds. The recipe is very simple. Spread a single layer of seeds on an oiled roasting tray, toast for about 25 minutes at 300°F. The seeds start to make snapping sounds when they’re done. Allow to cool, then they can be stored for quite a while in plastic bags or containers. They’re high in fiber and good for your prostate. And addictively yummy.

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Responses

  1. The things people do for prostate health.

    Yea, verily.

  2. !!!
    No photo of the carved pumkin! I thought you carve faces into the pumpkin and then you put a candle inside. I didn’t know it was so hard to carve.
    Can’t you eat a pumkin? I mean, do you grow them only to carve them?! And don’t you think melon seeds could also be roasted like that?

    I see! It was not just 1 pumkin, but 100 pumkins that you carved! 100 pumkins? I have never seen a real pumkin and haven’t looked too closely at photos, and the Winning Touch bucket does not say how big it is.

    Don’t worry my friend, I promised that I will deliver more photos of this event. At this farm they grew maybe 700 pumpkins. I may find out next week when they put all the candles into them. That’s when they get a good count.

    Yes. Most of the pumpkins live for ornamental purpose only, scary faces carved into them and candles set inside. Who knows how many tons of the seeds are thrown into the trash? There is a smaller variety of pumpkin that are used to cook, mostly as a carrier for cinnamon and other spices for a Thanksgiving traditional pumpkin pie. I was only there to scoop out the pumpkin seeds and scrape out the guts for other folks to do the decorative carving. And my selfish interest was mainly to get the seeds. Tonight I roasted several batches of them in the oven. I’ll bring them to work tomorrow to give to friends.

    And yes, I have sampled the toasted seeds from many other squashes and melons. Often they are rather bitter. Pumpkin seeds are my favorite. I will be truly testing my devotion to them this week.

    The Winning Touch (an equine supplement) bucket is of the 5 gallon size (19 litres). I estimate the weight of the seeds around 30 lbs (13.6 kilos).

    They also have cows at this farm, and I was told that cows love to eat the pumpkins.

    Finally, there was trebuchet at this farm. For the sole purpose of amusement, pumpkins were launched across the fields.

  3. I friggin’ live for the pumpkins at the end of the season. We had a crap year for them. Got about 15 sugar pies and 1 Atlantic Giant, which only gets to be around 200 lbs here. Which is plenty big enough….we had to break out the power tools to carve it.

    Oh maleesha, I’m sorry to hear that. We got about a dozen, most of which we gave away. Which is why I had to work for punkin seeds. We got lots of buttercup squash though. Are you a pumpkin seed fan too or what?

  4. I never thought I’d want to see seasons so bad or eat such fresh food. In my world, a Cheez-It is true orange, not a glorious leaf or pumpkin. Your blog makes me long for nature and fall. I’m definitely going to 7-11 after work today to get some pumpkin seeds, just to see them spread out on my coffee table. For some reason, this is my favorite line: “With the idea of scoring a whole butt-load of pumpkin seeds, which, for a number of reasons are very important to me.”

    I like that pumpkin seeds are important to you.

    Also, this line reminds me of my first pregnancy scare because it’s what my date said after a night of intimacy: “I tried putting on some rubber gloves at one point, but the pumpkin goo had infiltrated into my skin to the point where it was too sticky to allow the gloves to slide on. That and the gloves were just too small. So I plowed on …”

    It’s probably best not to ask.

    I’m happy to hear that my blog can satisfy some of your natural needs, so to speak. I hope you enjoyed your pumpkin seeds. They are usually oversalted, so go buy some from a health food store.

    Your comment reminds me of something I saw on a bike ride a month or so back. I had to take a leak so I got off the road into this little parking area/makeout spot by a small pond. There were lots of empty beer cans and bottles, cigarette butts, wads of tissue, empty donut boxes, and this one blue rubber glove that looked out of place, until my disgusting lyrical mind considered it …

    It wasn’t quite love
    in your Honda’s back seat
    one blue rubber glove
    you said it was sweet

    I gotta get home now
    it’s almost ten thirty
    one blue rubber glove
    you make me feel dirty

  5. This sounds wonderful! I wanna roast punkin seeds!
    Was trying to determine the amount of a “butt-load,” but then I saw the bucket.

    IT IS wonderful. And good for your prostate too moonbeam! Feel free to Google for other health benefits of punkin seeds. Apparently there are a butt-load of such benefits for both genders of humans. The Urban Dictionary has some amusing entries on buttload, which they don’t bother to hyphenate.

    To my reckoning, the hyphenated butt-load is 27.43 metric pounds. Which in the case of punkin seeds, fits in a five gallon bucket.

  6. You must definitely post some pictures of the jack-o-lanterns!

    And I have to say, this is the ONE situation where it’s absolutely lovely to hear you talking about showing up with a 5-gallon bucket ready to collect some guts, vs. any other situation in which that would be your objective 😉

    PS: “fibrous orange goo”…heehee, love the way you describe things! 🙂

    Thanks Romi, that’s a fine compliment coming from a novelist. 🙂

    Olde Saying: You can never have too many 5-gallon buckets.

  7. Later I remembered that I had asked you before what squash was. As soon as I looked it up on Google, I realized I had looked it up before. And somebody here gave me a small, yellow one. I was able to cut it open and I got the seeds, but there are little strings attached to them. Does one roast the seeds with all of its strings or do I have to clean the seeds one by one?

    It must be very difficult to carve those faces. The rind is very tough. I cooked and ate some of the inside, but can’t think of anything to say about it.

    There are so many varieties of squash. Maybe thousands. Some have very tough skin and some don’t. Pumpkin rind is not that hard to carve.

    The fibers attached to the seeds of pumpkins are most easily removed by placing them in a large bowl and sort of squeezing the seeds in your fists but allowing them to pop through your fingers. Doing this repeatedly eventually separates most of the fibers. Then place the seeds in water. The seeds usually float while the fiber and pulp usually sink. Some squash seeds seem to sink though. You can do some repeated rinsing and squishing them in the bowl and if you can’t get all the fibers off, just roast them anyway. The fibers will dry out and crumble away. They may not taste that bad either, who knows? Some squash are very dense, sweet, and starchy, while others are very bland. A very full-bodied soup can be made with the bland kinds, adding in lots of garlic and spices.

  8. Hmm, all those seeds spread into single layers to roast. That’s going to be a BIG job.

    Well Pi, it took me two nights to do all the roasting I did, which yielded about two gallon ziploc bags full. I gave away about 5 quarts of raw seeds to friends for them to roast. I froze 2 quart bags of raw seeds as an experiment. And I dried about a gallon of seeds in the dehydrator at low temp, so they’re dry but not roasted. They might even still be viable. It was worth it and I will definitely do it again next year if I can.


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