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How To Harvest A Pumpkin For Cooking and Pumpkin Seeds For Planting

I enjoy cooking up tasty dishes and sharing the recipes I love most.

Once a year around Halloween I usually buy a large pumpkin to cook for pumpkin puree that I freeze for year round cooking. Pumpkins are plentiful at local farmers markets and the grocery store once fall weather arrives making it easy to find a beautiful pumpkin perfect for cooking. Pumpkin pie, soups, cookies, breads, and more are wonderful with home made pumpkin puree.

My pretty little pumpkin before it became pie.

My pretty little pumpkin before it became pie.

Since this was a local farmers market pumpkin I had two plans for it: pumpkin puree for cooking and seeds for planting. I really want to harvest the seeds to plant a pumpkin patch in spring 2021. Harvesting pumpkin seeds and storing them until it is time to plant is extremely easy. Homemade pumpkin puree is better than the canned stuff and doesn't have all the bad stuff like preservatives in it.

How To Prepare A Pumpkin For Cooking and Harvest The Seeds

Step One: Clean The Pumpkin

Wash off the outside of your pumpkin. You will want to wash off all the dirt. Some people only cook the small pie pumpkins to make one or two pies, but I pick a bigger pumpkin so I can have plenty to freeze for year round pumpkin pies.

Step Two: Cutting

Cut the pumpkin in half and remove the stem. Some may remove the stem and then cut it in half...doesn't matter which way.

Cut the sucker in half and look at all it's insides.

Cut the sucker in half and look at all it's insides.

Step Three:

Clean out all the pumpkin guts. Set the guts containing the seeds aside. You will deal with those later. It helps to have a large metal spoon, spatula, ice cream scoop, or some other tool to help you scrape out all the guts. You may also want to wear plastic gloves if you don't enjoy the sliminess of the pumpkin guts.

Some might put down newspaper or something else on a table in case you make a mess. I've cooked enough pumpkins to minimize the mess so I forgo that step but if this is your first pumpkin cooking you may want to cover your work area for easy cleanup.

I use a big metal spoon to clean mine out. The insides are slippery so some sort of tool helps with scraping it all out.

I use a big metal spoon to clean mine out. The insides are slippery so some sort of tool helps with scraping it all out.

Step Four:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Put the pumpkin in a roasting pan. This pumpkin was small enough that if I cut the one of the halves in half I could fit the entire pumpkin in one big roasting pan. For bigger pumpkins I have to cook one pumpkin half at a time which makes the entire process much longer to finish. The pumpkin leaks liquid as it roasts so make sure you have a pan with sides so the liquid doesn't spill out into your oven.

This as a big pumpkin so I cut it into big chunks to get it all in my roasting pan I use for turkeys on Thanksgiving.

This as a big pumpkin so I cut it into big chunks to get it all in my roasting pan I use for turkeys on Thanksgiving.

Step Five: Preheat The Oven

Cook your pumpkin at 375 degrees for around an hour. You basically cook it until the pumpkin is soft (similar to how you know potatoes are done when they are soft). The skin of the pumpkin detaches from the "meat" when it is finished cooking. After it is done, set it aside and let it cool

Step Six: Remove The Skin

Once the pumpkin cools so you can touch it, peel the skin off. If it is cooked enough the skin will come off with ease. Throw the skin away. You can see in the below two pictures how the skin has detached from the pumpkin. It should be easy to peel the skin off.

how-to-harvest-a-pumpkin-for-cooking-and-pumpkin-seeds-for-planting
how-to-harvest-a-pumpkin-for-cooking-and-pumpkin-seeds-for-planting

Step Seven: Liquefy

If you want to make pumpkin puree (good for soups, pie, breads, etc.) you will need to put the pumpkin in a blender, food processor, or something else that will liquefy it. I have a hand blender that allows me to mash it up in a pan or bowl.

Slowing becoming puree with a hand blender.

Slowing becoming puree with a hand blender.

Step Eight: Freeze!

I measure 1 to 2 cups of pumpkin puree into ziplock bags. This is enough for most recipes like pies. I lay the bags flat and put one bag on top of another in stacks. I freeze them that way to save space in the freezer. This pumpkin produced 6 cups of puree. The larger pumpkins produce more.


Lovely pumpkin puree

Lovely pumpkin puree

Time To Harvest Seeds!

Step Nine: Separate The Seeds From The Pumpkin Guts

Lets deal with those pumpkin guts to harvest the seeds...Take your guts and pull out all the seeds. Place them in a colander if you have one or a bowl. Rinse the seeds under cool water until they are clean of guts. Place the seeds on a napkin in a cool part of the house. Spread them out to ensure they can dry out.

Step Ten: Dry Them Out

Leave them to dry for at least a week. After a week put your seeds in an envelope, container with a lid, or ziplock bag and put them in the fridge or freezer until you are ready to plant them.

how-to-harvest-a-pumpkin-for-cooking-and-pumpkin-seeds-for-planting
Cleaned pumpkin seeds from one pumpkin.

Cleaned pumpkin seeds from one pumpkin.

Planning Next Years Garden

It is winter right now so my seeds will stay in the fridge until spring when I am ready to plant them. To plant them I will put each seed in a small starter pot until they are big enough to go outside in the garden.

I'm excited to start my year 2021 garden and I can't wait until spring to start planting! Hopefully next Halloween I'll have pumpkins from my own pumpkin patch to share with all my friends here.


© 2020 Casey White

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