For the best results when you grow them next year, first determine whether your pumpkin is a hybrid. If it is, it won't breed true from seeds. That big, orange pumpkin may produce seeds that give smaller, less colorful progeny.
If you planted heirloom or open-pollinated seeds, they are more likely to give you the same results. If you are buying a pumpkin at a farm or farmers market, ask the farmer whether or not the pumpkins are hybrids. For a store-bought pumpkin, you are taking potluck.
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.
What You Need
- A pumpkin
- A knife
- A spoon
- A colander
- Paper towels or waxed paper
- A cookie sheet or screen
- A cool, dry place to set them out to dry
- Difficulty: Easy
- Time Required: 30 minutes or less, then three weeks to dry.
10 Simple Steps
- Cut your pumpkin open, and scoop all of the seeds into a colander.
- Run the colander under cold water to separate the pulp from the 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.
- 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.
- 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, you don't want them in clumps or touching. This will help them dry thoroughly on all sides.
- Place the sheet in a cool, dry place.
- For the first couple of days, stir them often and turn them over, so they dry on each side.
- 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.
- 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 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.
Tips for Saving Pumpkin Seeds
- 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
- For the best results, save seeds from heirloom pumpkins. This will ensure that you end up with pumpkins that look like the one you started with.