The problem with ingredients such as seeds and nuts is that, generally, we only tend to eat them in small serving sizes, and yet, they are sold in much larger quantities. Having opened the bag, they then sit in the back of our cupboard, slowly going rancid, until one day we reach for them and get a nasty, bitter taste. Rather than forgoing the nutritional benefits of nuts and seeds altogether, the key to keeping your pumpkin seeds fresh is simply to store them in the correct way.
Why do pumpkin seeds go bad?
The reason why pumpkin seeds go bad more quickly than some other pantry ingredients is that they have a high oil content. When exposed to air and heat, this oil can begin to go rancid in a process known as rancidification, which changes the taste of the seed.
How to stop your pumpkin seeds from going rancid
The easiest way to stop your pumpkin seeds from going rancid is to eat them whilst they are fresh; however, for larger quantities, it is important to store them in the correct conditions. Given that air and heat are the two main factors involved in speeding up rancidification, it is essential to store your seeds in a container that is airtight and to then store it away from direct sunlight or a heat source. In an airtight container, pumpkin seeds can last for up to three months, which is plenty of time to use up your supply when adding a sprinkle to your oatmeal, tucking into a serving a day as a snack, or making a batch of fresh pumpkin seed butter.
Can you freeze pumpkin seeds?
If you have a particularly large batch of pumpkin seeds or are not going to be able to get through your supply in three months, then freezing your pumpkin seeds is a simple way to extend their longevity. When freezing your pumpkin seeds, place them in a freezer-safe bag or container and try to remove as much of the air as possible. Stored in this way, they should last for a year or even longer.
How to tell if your pumpkin seeds have gone bad
If you have a bag of pumpkin seeds that you can’t remember opening, then there are three ways to check if they have gone bad.
Take a look
If your pumpkin seeds have been left exposed to the open air, they may have gotten moist, enabling mold to grow. Take a look at your pumpkin seeds to check for any signs of discoloration or mold growth.
Give them a sniff
Even hidden mold often has a musty smell, and rancidification also gives off an obvious unpleasant odor making it easy to tell if your pumpkin seeds have gone bad by just using your nose.
Lastly, if you can’t see any signs of mold, and they don’t smell untoward, then the final check to make is to give your pumpkin seeds a taste. A rancid pumpkin seed will instantly taste bitter and unpleasant, while a pumpkin seed that is still ok to eat will remain true to taste.