Do you miss the days when everyone ate peanut butter – in sandwiches, in slices, in celery sticks – and no-one batted an eyelid?
Well, now you can return to those wonderful days – or at least a close approximation of them – with this amazing homemade pumpkin seed butter.
It’s buttery, it tastes a lot like peanut butter (only better), and it’s completely nut-free.
Oh yes, and it’s bright green!
It’s also super simple to make and has only one ingredient – pumpkin seeds (also known as pepitas).
Just throw a bunch of pumpkin seeds into your food processor and start grinding.
Pretty soon it will turn into meal, and then little kibbles like this.
And then bigger clumps like this.
After a while it may form a big lump that rattles around in your processor for a bit, and then it will collapse into wonderfully smooth pumpkin seed butter, like this.
So with this amazing pumpkin seed butter on hand, you’re suddenly equipped with a fabulous peanut butter substitute, that’s raw, delicious and totally nut-free.
Apparently, allergic reactions to pumpkin seeds are rare. So you can use pumpkin seed butter in all kinds of delicious dishes and share them around without worrying about adverse reactions.
And even better, pumpkin seed butter is also really good for you, in lots of ways.
In fact, pumpkin seeds:
- Are one of the best plant-food sources of iron
- Are a great source of zinc, magnesium and phosphorus
- Are rich in phyto-oestrogens
- May help to regulate insulin
- Contain 30% of really good-quality protein
- Are naturally high in tryptophan and glutamate, which can help to regulate moods
What a fantastic addition to any diet!
Ready to have a go at making some for yourself?
- 3 cups (500g) pumpkin seeds / pepitas
- Process until smooth, stopping at regular intervals to make sure the pumpkins seed butter doesn't overheat.
- Store in jars in the fridge. Keeps for weeks.
During: 30 mins (with breaks)
Need: Food processor
- Warning: Making pumpkin seed butter – or any nut or seed butter – can be really hard on your food processor. I’ve read stories of people’s food processors burning out while trying to make nut butters. If your motor feels like it’s getting very hot while grinding your pumpkin seeds, turn it off and wander off and leave it for at least half an hour (preferably forget about it altogether). This will let the motor cool down, and it will also let your pumpkin seed butter cool down too, so it doesn’t overheat. You can also take regular short rests (5 minutes) during the process, to keep temperatures down. If you don’t think your food processor is up to the task then it’s probably best to skip this recipe and go buy some pumpkin seed butter for your local health food shop instead. You have been warned!
- If you have a good quality processor, like my Magimix processor or a Cuisinart processor, then they should handle the task easily. I still have to stop while I’m making pumpkin seed butter, but that’s to stop the butter from overheating, not because the processor can’t handle it (and also to scrape down the sides so everything gets fully processed). It generally takes less than 10 minutes to make pumpkin seed butter in my processor including stops, but give yourself as much time as you need so you don’t rush it and overheat anything, especially the first couple of times.
- To shorten the time it takes to make your pumpkin seed spread, try storing your pepitas in the freezer for a few hours, or overnight, and this will stop them becoming too hot too quickly. You may find that you only need to stop a couple of times, if at all, to let the pumpkin seed paste cool down.
- If you have a high-speed blender, like a Vitamix or a Blendtec, you can use it to make your nut and seed butters, but I’ve never done it this way because I’m concerned about overheating the butter. I might get around to trying it one day.
- I love my infrared thermometer while making pumpkin seed butter – in fact, it’s handy for all of the nut and seed butters we make in our processor. Having one allows you to quickly and easily check the temperature of your pumpkin seed butter as you go, to keep it under the 40°C – 45°C mark. It’s also really handy for making raw chocolate. I use mine all the time in the kitchen, and it even saves us on a regular basis from burning mouths on too-hot food. I can’t believe I didn’t get one sooner!
- The 3 cups / 500g of pumpkin seeds that I’ve specified here is just a good amount for my processor. Because the only ingredient is pumpkin seeds, you can increase or decrease it to your heart’s content, so long as it’s a good amount for your processor. Your processor needs to be able to pull the pumpkin seeds around easily, but also not get too clogged up or overheated. You could probably get away with as little as 2 cups, depending on the size of your processor, but you really can’t get it wrong. If in doubt, start with less.
- Don’t worry if your ground pumpkin seeds go through some weird stages while flying around in your processor. Sometimes it can form big lumps that rattle around horribly in your food processor, but I promise that they will always turn into smooth paste eventually. Just have courage, and stick with it!
- I don’t add salt to my pumpkin seed butter because I love the taste of it without it. That said, if you’re used to salty peanut butter, you might want to add a little to help your taste buds adjust. For 3 cups of pumpkin seeds, try 1/4 tsp salt, up to about 1/2 tsp of salt, to suit your tastes. You might find over time that you can add less and less as you get used to having less salt in your diet generally.
- If you do use salt in your pumpkin seed spread, just add it at the end, after you’ve already reached the “butter” stage, and give it a quick extra process to mix it through thoroughly. Apparently adding salt at the start can change how it processes, but I’ve never tried it, so I can’t speak from experience. But you’re only adding it for the taste anyway, so you’re best to leave it until the end so you can only add as much as you need.
- We store our raw pumpkin seed butter in old pepita butter jars, from when we used to buy our pumpkin seed butter from the shops. The main reason is that they’re already labelled, so they look pretty and it saves about 5 seconds writing a label for the jar. But you can store your pumpkin seed butter in whatever you like, so long as you’re willing to eat from it.
- We also store our pumpkin seed butter in the fridge. This keeps the oils in the pumpkin seed butter fresh, which makes sure your butter always tastes fantastic. And it’s still very spreadable too.
- Something I’ve noticed with making my own homemade pumpkin seed butter – and all of or own nut and seed butters – is that the oils don’t seem to separate out that quickly. That might be partly because they’re stored in the fridge, which makes the butter thicker and slows down the movement of the oils. We also tend to eat our pumpkin seed butter within a month or so (and sometimes faster), which I’m sure also helps. But even if you do get a layer of oil on top, you can just mix it in with a knife or spoon like you would with any nut butter you buy from the shops.
- You can make pumpkin seed butter with activated pumpkin seeds if you want to. I don’t generally activate my pumpkin seeds (soak them and then dehydrate them) before making pumpkin seed butter with them for two reasons. Firstly, I can’t be bothered. And secondly, it can reduce the amount of oil in the seeds, making it harder to make butter with them. If you do activate your pumpkin seeds before making them into pumpkin seed butter, you’ll probably need to add a little oil into the processor to help them process properly into butter. (Just use a mild-tasting, nut-free one.)
- You could also sprout your pepitas and then dry them before using them, and make a sprouted pumpkin seed spread if you like. Again, add a little oil if the paste is too dry.
- If you’re not concerned about keeping your pumpkin seed butter raw, you could also use roasted pumpkin seeds to make your spread. I’ve never tried this myself, but I expect that it would change the flavour a little, and that you may need to add a small amount of a neutral-flavoured oil if the pumpkin seed paste turns out too dry.
- You can use this method to make your own nut and seed butters from almost anything. We’ve done it with almonds, cashews and hazelnuts, and you could also try brazil nuts, macadamias and sunflower seeds. I’m sure any nut or seed would be worth a try, but just be aware that each one will behave slightly differently as it goes through the various stages before turning into butter. The possibilities are endless!
I didn’t even realise that you could make pumpkin seeds into pumpkin seed butter until I saw it at my local organic greengrocer, so I have her to thank for introducing me to this fantastic food.
After we’d eaten a large number of jars of this stuff, it occurred to me that we might be able to make our own raw pumpkin seed butter, just like we’d started doing with raw almond butter.
So we took courage in hand and gave it a go, and voila, we created our very own fabulously green pumpkin seed butter.
Just as delicious as the stuff from the shops, with just one ingredient and totally raw. So simple, so delicious and so green!
I hope you’ll give this pumpkin seed butter recipe a go, and discover for yourself just how tasty and versatile this ingredient can be.
If you’re interested in learning about allergies to pumpkin seeds (which are very rare apparently), you can read more here:
To learn more about the amazing health benefits of pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed butter, check out these great articles:
- 9 Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds @ Mercola.com
- Pumpkin seeds @ World’s Healthiest Foods
- Pumpkin seeds nutrition facts @ nutrition-and-you.com
If you’re interested in learning more about the different types of nut and seed butters you can make, here’s a great introduction:
If you’d like to try making pumpkin seed butter in your high-speed blender, here’s a recipe for almond butter that you might be able to adapt:
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And have a spectacular day!
~ Nikki, Eating Vibrantly