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Pumpkin Seed Butter

February 26, 2011

It kind of pains me to admit this (seeing how much I love to cook and eat and try different tastes nowadays), but from kindergarten through fifth grade, I ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every single day of my life. Why? I have no idea. My mom was always happy to fix different things for my brother and me for lunch, so who knows what inspired my devotion, but there you have it. In fact, I was SO sick of peanut butter and jelly by the time sixth grade rolled around that I didn’t eat another pb & j sandwich until I was in college.

And I also have no idea if there were other kinds of nut and seed butters commercially available in the 80’s, when I was growing up — maybe in health food stores, but probably not in the large chain supermarkets that we had in town. I suppose if there had been things like almond and cashew butter easily available, I could at least have swapped them with the pb occasionally for variety.

The top shelf of our fridge nowadays is stocked with all kinds of nut and seed butters — peanut butter (I like it chunky), almond butter, tahini, sunbutter (made from sunflower seeds), and now making her top shelf debut, pumpkin seed butter. We’ve been on a real nut and seed butter kick here lately, for two reasons: first, Little A seems to have a love/hate relationship with meat, probably because of teething (I am learning that so many of the toddler woes can sometimes be chalked up to teething, sigh) — so, I’ve needed to be creative about getting enough protein into her little tummy. Secondly, the pile of carrots and kohlrabi in our fridge, from our winter CSA share, is tremendous and frankly, we’re trying to eat our way through them any way we can, including afternoon snacks of carrot and kohlrabi sticks dipped in nut/seed butter.

Pumpkin seeds are really high in manganese as well as iron and zinc, making them a great alternative to peanut butter for your sandwich spreads. And it’s fun (and easy) to make this seed butter yourself! I toasted them first, just until they turned golden brown.

(Ever wonder why raw pumpkin seeds that you buy in the store — aka pepitas — are green, but the seeds you pull out of your jack o’ lantern are white? Those tasty little green gems are enclosed in a white husk.)

Then it’s off to the food processor — just turn it on and let them whiz, baby. It takes a good 5-8 minutes before they release their oils and blend into a smooth “butter,” so a little patience is a must, but it’s fun to watch the transformation from grainy chopped seeds to a smooth, creamy spread.

Little A tried this yesterday morning, spread on some crackers, and it was a hit. What’s your favorite kind of nut or seed butter?

Pumpkin Seed Butter

Makes about 1 cup.

2 cups raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread seeds on a baking sheet and toast until turning golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.

Transfer toasted seeds to the bowl of a food processor, and process until the oils are released and the seeds turn into a smooth, creamy spread. This takes about 5-8 minutes or so, and you’ll want to stop periodically to scrape down the sides. It may look for awhile like nothing is happening, but be patient – the consistency changes somewhat suddenly.

Store in an airtight container or jar in the fridge.

28 Comments leave one →
  1. February 26, 2011 8:11 pm

    I love the photos showing the transformation from ground seeds to smooth butter – fun!

    I adore cashew butter – but it’s too expensive for me to justify getting except on occasion. So I usually eat soynut butter, or good ol’ (natural) peanut butter. 🙂

  2. AndyK permalink
    February 26, 2011 8:21 pm

    PeanutButter (extra crunchy please) is my first true love, but SunButter (smooooth) has carved out a little space in my heart for itself. Somehow the two satisfy different cravings for me. Try SunButter on a crack with a dried apricot… heaven

  3. Zelda permalink
    February 26, 2011 8:26 pm

    Wow, I have GOT to try this! I have some pepitas in the freezer. Thanks so much.

  4. jacquie permalink
    February 26, 2011 10:07 pm

    that sounds wonderful but unfortunately i don’t have a food processor and am not in a position to buy one – can pumpkin seed butter be purchased?

    • February 28, 2011 2:52 pm

      Hi Jacquie, you could always give it a try with a blender if you have one, otherwise, I’d try a Whole Foods or other natural foods store for your best bet.

  5. February 26, 2011 10:33 pm

    What a great idea! And totally affordable. Thanks!

  6. Jackson permalink
    February 27, 2011 12:52 am

    Wow, as a lover of the exquisite, and this includes (nut) butter(s), this looks great to me! Since (pea)nut butter is typically heavily salted, would it be alright if I used roasted, salted pepitas? as they’re hard to find where I live, and it’s quite a long drive to Whole Foods.

    • February 28, 2011 2:53 pm

      I’m sure that would be great! I’d skip the roasting step if they’re already roasted.

  7. Lauren permalink
    February 27, 2011 7:44 pm

    On a whim a friend and I made up some almond butter a couple weekends ago. We didn’t toast the almonds first, though I bet it’d be better that way. We added some salt, which I think enhanced the flavor. I’ve been enjoying it the last couple weeks. I’m eager to try out pepitas next!

  8. February 28, 2011 2:43 pm

    Wow. I’m impressed with how creamy that consistency is without added oil and using the same food processor I have. I’m not a huge nut butter person myself but do make it myself because my dog loves it and it’s a nice easy snack to put inside his kong (not to mention the ingredient list is WAY shorter than most treats). I have a TON of pepitas at home from god knows what. Maybe making some pumpkin seed butter is in order.

  9. Wendy permalink
    February 28, 2011 10:31 pm

    can’t wait to try this..what are Miss A’s favorite crackers? I’m still trying out a variety on Joshie…rice cakes are right up there for him…thanks for the great ideas!

    • March 3, 2011 3:12 pm

      Hi Wendy! She recently tried rice cakes for the first time and devoured them (with this seed butter)…but she also really likes graham crackers, the Kashi multigrain crackers, the Barbara’s saltines, and Annie’s bunny crackers (pretty much any kind of those!) Hi to little Joshie!

  10. Emily permalink
    March 1, 2011 11:11 am

    You and I must have been kindred spirits even as kids, since I also ate a plain peanutbutter (no jelly) sandwich every single day of my childhood up through 6th grade. Have you seen Deb’s peanutella? Not quite as healthy as your pumpkin seed butter, but drooooollll….

    • March 3, 2011 3:13 pm

      Too funny, Em…have you ever tried homemade nutella? I made it awhile ago, didn’t blog it, but it’s FAB. I think it was the LATimes recipe.

  11. Margaret permalink
    March 3, 2011 3:09 pm

    … same for sunflower seeds?

  12. March 4, 2011 9:28 am

    this looks so good!!! ill have to try this sometime. I made your spinach squash mac & cheese AGAIN for my friend’s bday- all 8 of my friends LOVED IT. thanks so much!!

  13. March 20, 2011 10:51 am

    I love this post. I am allergic to peanut butter and it seems that many of the other butters are processed in the places that peanut butter are processed… so I can never eat them.

    I will definitely be trying out the pumpkin seed butter. So excited!

  14. April 13, 2011 7:24 pm

    Interesting…I just found some leftover pepitas from granola bars I made. Skinny Fat Kid can’t eat peanuts, and loves Almond butter, so this may be something to try!

  15. R.A. permalink
    April 23, 2011 9:40 am

    Silly question, but do you toast ALL of the varities of the nuts before hand?

  16. September 16, 2012 4:54 am

    Great! I actually soaked my seeds overnight, then this morning dried and roasted them….they are truly delishious! Now just have to pop them in the processor….I best be quick before I eat through them all. Thanks for sharing your recipe….I feel all confident and ready to go now:)

  17. Laling permalink
    December 25, 2012 9:54 pm

    Great recipe. Do you know the shelf life for this recipe?

  18. Diane Colley permalink
    August 10, 2013 2:34 pm

    Do you have to roast them

  19. September 9, 2013 7:22 pm

    You do not clarify how to get the husks off the seeds? I have lots of pumpkin seeds but have no clue how to remove the outer shell.

    • January 16, 2014 2:05 pm

      Hi Janet; I used seeds that have already been de-husked (they should appear green when raw). You can buy them like this in most grocery stores.


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