These aren't your average roasted pumpkin seeds that are a by-product of carving a Jack O'Lantern. They're made from the seeds of a special breed of pumpkin called a kakai. Kakais are pretty, with splotchy green and orange vertical stripes. They’re best known in gardening circles for having hulless, great tasting seeds that are ready to roast or eat right from the pumpkin. The funny thing about it, though, is that the flesh of the Kakai is rather tough and fibrous. It’s not much good for eating. The pumpkins are grown only for their seeds, and the flesh is discarded and used to feed local livestock.
Once the seeds have been harvested, the team at Stony Brook Wholehearted Foods (the same folks who make the exceptional Butternut Squash Seed Oil) brine the seeds in a simple mix of salt and water for a couple of days, then roast them in a specially-built roaster built by a company that makes coffee roasters. The result is so simple, yet so tasty. The pepitas smell incredibly nutty and roasty, almost like sweet peanut butter. The texture is light and crunchy, and the flavor is a balance of salty and nutty and earthy. They’re incredibly easy to munch on.
These are my new favorite snack. I keep a bag or two stashed in my desk drawer for when hunger strikes, and I can vouch for them being a great choice to have on hand during a road trip. If they ever lasted long enough for me to think of using them in cooking, they’d be awesome atop a salad or sprinkled over a good butternut squash soup. You could toss them over ravioli or a baked potato. They’d make a killer addition to granola. I could go on. This one is fun and easy—and oh so good.
"Stony Brook WholeHeartedFoods, in the Finger Lakes region of New York... are putting the whole seeds to use as snack fare. Pumpkin seeds are brined to soften the hulls, then roasted... Give the seeds a whirl as toppings for fragrant homemade autumn muffins, pumpkin pies or yogurt."
Florence Fabricant, The New York Times