It’s a Little Seedy

Are you thinking about your summer vegetable garden? I am. Gardening, according to Andy, would be a “serious leisure” pursuit for me. That’s a phrase I’d never heard until last week, when Andy casually mentioned he’d be writing about that in today’s Andy’s Corner.

Early Fortune Cucumber and Capitano Yellow Romano Bean seeds have just arrived from Territorial Seed Co and Seed Savers Exchange. But I don’t have room in our raised beds for pumpkins…though I do love pumpkin seeds!

Ferry’s Seeds are now incorporated into Ferry-Morse, but their vintage art lives on – at eBay, Etsy, etc.

I’m not going to revisit Old Mother Goose tales today; we’ve covered that before. But I would like to reiterate that Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater was NOT a nice guy. Why was his wife smiling on that Ferry’s Seeds package?

I may not like that Mother Goose rhyme, but I love pumpkin seeds in salads, in granola, with nuts, in dips, in tacos, or roasted and salted by the handful. The only kind of bread we routinely eat is Pumpkin Seed Bread from Della Fattoria in Petaluma, which is sold at our Sonoma Market. For cooking I’ve been buying packages of USDA organic unsalted, unroasted pumpkin seeds from Aurora Natural Products – based in Connecticut. It was many months after I first started buying them that I happened to read the small print on the package: “Product of China.”

China and India are the largest producers of pumpkin seeds. Find everything you want to know about pumpkin seeds at 88Acres.com

Since I use and enjoy sunflower seeds almost as much as pumpkin seeds, I did a little research into where they are commonly sourced. Voila. Ukraine. Not surprising, given that the sunflower is their widely-referenced symbol.

Ukraine and Russia are the largest producers of sunflower seeds. Find more information about sunflower seeds at 88Acres.com

To Aurora Natural Products’ credit, they labelled the country of origin for the seeds. Not every producer does that – because they don’t have to, apparently.

According to the U.S. Dept of Agriculture, Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) is a labeling law that requires retailers, such as full-line grocery stores, supermarkets and club warehouse stores, to notify their customers with information regarding the source of certain foods. Food products covered by the law include muscle cut and ground meats: lamb, goat, and chicken; wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish; fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables; peanuts, pecans, and macadamia nuts; and ginseng. 

Interesting, right? Peanuts, pecans and macadamia nuts must be labelled. But not seeds? And not almonds? What about pine nuts? And why ginseng?

Back in 2014 NPR’s All Things Considered did a segment on “Love Pine Nuts? Then Protect Pine Forests.” It’s a fascinating look at the forests that produce our pine nuts: “China has its own pine forests. And it is the world’s biggest exporter of pine nuts. Pine nuts also come from North Korea, Pakistan and Afghanistan. (Look at that list and you realize that good food can come from troubled places.)”

I love that last line – “…good food can come from troubled places.”

A quote from Ezra Klein’s recent piece in the NYTimes says it all: “The West is going to think harder about depending on autocracies for crucial goods and resources.”

My garden plans may be changing. It turns out that I don’t need or want ginormous Halloween-type pumpkins to produce my pumpkins seeds (more correctly known as pepitas). I need Styrian (SE Austria) pumpkins – which produce seeds that don’t need to be shelled. I wonder how many Styrian seeds I need to plant to get my yearly pumpkin seed quota?

A Styrian pumpkin – 6-10 pounds average

In case you’re wondering what to do with the seeds you may (or may not) have, consider the following:

Crunchy Pepitas, Sweet Potatoes and Black Bean Salad
Sunflower (or Pumpkin) Seed, Apple, and Kale Salad
Deb’s Granola
Spiced Pine Nuts, Pecans, and Pumpkin Seeds
Mayan Pumpkin Seed Dip (Sikil-P’ak)
(I haven’t mastered Pipian Verde (green pumpkin seed mole) yet but intend to try Rick Bayless’ version)

If you want to try your hand at a yeast bread, here’s a simple, seedy recipe.

Our little Corgi eyeing the Pumpkin and Sunflower Seed Bread (hungrily).

Pumpkin and Sunflower Seed Bread

You can toast the pumpkin and sunflower seeds before using, but it’s not absolutely necessary.  The bread is especially good toasted and keeps well.  Recipe adapted from FleischmannsYeast.com

  • 2 c whole wheat flour
  • 2 envelopes instant yeast (4 1/2 tsp)
  • 1 T Diamond kosher salt
  • 1/4 c brown sugar (or 2 T molasses and 2 T honey – or 4 T honey)
  • 3 T butter, softened
  • 2 1/4 c very warm water (120°F to 130°F)
  • 2 1/2 – 3 c white flour 
  • 1/2 c pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 c sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seeds (optional)
  • 1/2 c wheat bran (optional)

Combine 2 cups whole wheat flour, undissolved yeast and salt in a large mixer bowl. Add brown sugar, butter and water; beat for 2 minutes. Add 1 cup white flour, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and bran. Add remaining white flour (up to 2 c) until soft dough forms. Knead on lightly floured surface for 5 to 6 minutes. Cover and let rest 10 minutes.

Grease two 8-1/2 x 4-1/2-inch loaf pans. Punch dough down; divide in half. Roll dough to 12 x 8-inch rectangle. Beginning at short end, roll up tightly as for jelly roll. Pinch seam and ends to seal. Place, seam side down in greased loaf pan. Repeat with second portion of dough. Cover and let rise in a warm draft-free place until almost doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Bake in preheated 350°F oven for 35 to 45 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool on a rack for at least 1 hour before slicing.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.

4 Comments

  1. Sharon Ponsford says:

    More dogs to add to the list – we’ve had Bedlington Terriers (Bedlington, England), Kerry Blue Terriers (County Kerry, Ireland), and a French Poodle, although now I think they are just called Poodles. We also have a Norwich Terrier in our family.

    Like

  2. sara says:

    Loved this blog! Learned a lot. But how do you boycott the Russian sunflower seeds over the Ukrainian? Also poor Russian sunflower seed producers, also likely at the mercy of Putin. Food politics are complicated. In less complicated news, here’s my favorite pumpkin seed cake. It’s more of a bar, less cake-y, but so so so delicious! https://www.rickbayless.com/recipe/pepita-cake/

    Like

    • theRaggedys says:

      Andy here: Good point about the difficulty in targeting which pumpkin seeds to boycott. And the pumpkin seed cake recipe looks great. We definitely will give it a try. Thanks for sharing.

      Like

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