Pumpkin Seed Butter
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.