When you're carving this year's Halloween Jack-o'-lantern or cooking a pumpkin, you can save the seeds to plant in next year's garden. Pumpkin seeds are easy to save in part because they are large and easy to harvest.
First, determine whether your pumpkin is a hybrid or not. If it is, it won't breed true from seeds. That big, orange pumpkin bought at a store this year may produce seeds that give smaller, less colorful progeny.
If you planted heirloom or open-pollinated seeds, they are more likely to give you dependable results. If you are buying a pumpkin at a farm or farmers' market, ask the grower whether or not the pumpkins are hybrids.
Even with seeds from your homegrown heirloom pumpkins, you may see cross-pollination between pumpkins and squash, such as zucchini. To improve your chances of getting true-breeding seeds, save seeds from three or more of your best pumpkins.
Equipment / Tools
- Cookie sheet or screen
- Paper towels or waxed paper
- Envelope or small brown paper bag
Scoop Out the Seeds
Cut your pumpkin open and scoop all of the seeds into a colander.
Rinse the Pulp From the Seeds
Run the colander under cold water to separate the pulp from the seeds.
Thoroughly Clean the Seeds
Clean any clinging pulp from the seeds. You don't want any pulp remaining as it will slow drying time and can lead to mold growth, rotting the seeds.
Prepare the Cookie Sheet
Line a cookie sheet with paper towels or waxed paper. Some people prefer waxed paper so the sticky seeds don't end up stuck to the paper towel.
Place the Seeds on the Sheet
Once all of the pumpkin seeds are clean, place them on the lined cookie sheet in a single layer. Separate the seeds from each other, taking care not to let them clump or touch. This will help them dry thoroughly on all sides.
Allow the Seeds to Dry
Place the sheet in a cool, dry place.
Stir and Turn Them Over
For the first couple of days, stir them often and turn them over, so they dry on each side.
Continue to Monitor as the Seeds Dry
Continue to allow them to dry for three to four weeks. If you see any mold, discard those seeds. This is also a sign that your cool, dry place isn't cool and dry enough.
Put the Dry Seeds in an Envelope
Once your seeds are thoroughly dry, place them in an envelope or brown paper bag. Label it with the date and details about the pumpkin.
Store in a Cool, Dry Place
Store your seed envelope in a cool, dry place until planting time. Some people keep them in the refrigerator if they don't have another suitable place.
Saving Gourd and Pumpkin Seeds. North Carolina State Extension Service, Henderson County