How to Save Pumpkin Seeds

saving pumpkin seeds

The Spruce / Ana Cadena

Overview
  • Working Time: 30 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner

When you're carving this year's Halloween Jack-o'-lantern, you can save the seeds to grow for next year. 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 enhance your chances of getting true-breeding seeds, save seeds from three or more of your best pumpkins.

items needed for saving pumpkin seeds

The Spruce / Ana Cadena

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Knife
  • Spoon
  • Colander
  • Cookie sheet or screen

Materials

  • Pumpkin
  • Water
  • Paper towels or waxed paper
  • Envelope

Instructions


  1. Scoop out Seeds

    Cut your pumpkin open, and scoop all of the seeds into a colander.

    person cutting open a pumpkin
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena 
  2. Rinse Pulp From Seeds

    Run the colander under cold water to separate the pulp from the seeds.

    person rinsing and draining pumpkin flesh
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena
  3. Thoroughly Clean Seeds

    Clean any clinging pulp from the seeds. You don't want any pulp remaining as it will prevent drying and can lead to mold growth, rotting the seeds.

    cleaning out the pumpkin pulp to separate the seeds
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena
  4. 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.

    lining a cookie sheet with paper towels
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena
  5. Place Seeds on 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.

    placing the seeds on a paper towel
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena
  6. Allow the Seeds to Dry

    Place the sheet in a cool, dry place.

    pumpkin seeds on a cookie sheet
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena
  7. Stir and Turn Over

    For the first couple of days, stir them often and turn them over, so they dry on each side.

    turning the pumpkin seeds over
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena 
  8. Continue to Monitor as Seeds Dry

    Continue to allow them to dry for three to four weeks. If you see any mold, discard the ones that are moldy. But this is also a sign that your cool, dry place isn't cool and dry enough.

    allowing the pumpkin seeds to dry
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena 
  9. Put Dry Seeds in 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.

    placing the seeds in a brown paper bag
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena 
  10. 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.

    storing pumpkin seeds in the fridge
    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

Tip

Unless you're planning on a huge garden, you'll probably end up with more seeds than you need. Roast your extra pumpkin seeds for a tasty treat.