Our Hulless Pumpkin Seed Story

Our Hulless Pumpkin Seed Story

Hummingbird has been planting and growing pumpkins since before we became Hummingbird. It began in the 90's with Eugene Scott, the owner of Honey Heaven. He started pumpkin seed trials in the Willamette Valley without much success. Scott sold his business in 2003 to Charlie and Julie Tilt who changed the name to Hummingbird Wholesale and continued pumpkin seed trials. Determined to meet with success, the Tilts traveled to the Styria region of Austria to research cultivation of Gleisdorfer pumpkins, a Styrian hulless variety. Returning home with a renewed excitement for producing pumpkin seeds in the Willamette Valley, Julie and Charlie met with Oregon farmers to plan growing and processing of Gleisdorfer pumpkins for seed crops. “The first few years of Oregon production were challenging,” says Charlie, who is co-founder and CEO at Hummingbird “Crop failure and low yields were common as we worked with local growers and processors to understand the best way to grow and handle this specialty pumpkin and seed.” Hummingbird, through what we call Distributor Supported Agriculture, pays for the seed and contracts with local farms.

Pumpkin seeds have become a culinary favorite for both their distinctive taste and high nutritional value. They are excellent eaten raw, sprouted or roasted, as a snack or salad topping, made into sauces and as an ingredient in popular energy bars. Pumpkin seeds are a traditional ingredient in mole and are also often called pepitas.

Though all pumpkin seeds are edible, most have a thick white outer shell or hull, which reveals a lovely green seed inside when removed. Of course, you can eat the pumpkin seed, shell and all–or pumpkin seeds can be shelled–but, even better, there are several pumpkin varietals that naturally produce hulless, or “naked,” seeds. These are commonly known as oilseed pumpkins because they produce excellent seeds for pressing into specialty oils. Cracking into a Gleisdorfer pumpkin is like opening a gold mine, full of treasured, hulless pumpkin seeds.

Scientists believe that pumpkins originated in North America about 9000 years ago. The oldest pumpkin seeds have been found in Mexico and date back to somewhere between 7000-5550 B.C.. Pumpkins (along with other forms of squash) were a historically important food staple among Native Americans.

Hummingbird has been working with Oregon farmers to bring this unique hulless crop to our valley. Our raw Organic Hulless Pumpkin Seeds (see fun video) are dark green and have a fresh, slightly nutty flavor. They are offered in bulk 25 lb raw (SD141), 5 lb raw (SD141-5#), 20 lb Awakened® (SD281), 5 lb Awakened® (SD281-5#), and in 6 oz snack bags (SN116-6) .

Organic Pumpkin SeedsAwakened® Pumpkin Seeds

The awakening process starts with the raw seeds, then we soak them overnight in water, which initiates germination and helps reduce enzyme inhibitors that make raw seeds harder to digest. After soaking we rinse our pumpkin seeds in a very mild salt bath, using non-iodized Celtic Sea Salt®, and dehydrate at a low temperature until they reach crunchy perfection.

A Flavorful, Nutritional Powerhouse

These Oregon grown, organic pumpkin seeds are dark green and have a fresh, slightly nutty flavor. They are also a nutritional powerhouse, abounding with all the virtues of a good seed. Eating just a quarter cup provides a significant amount of protein, vitamin E, antioxidants, magnesium, copper, zinc and more. Pumpkin seeds are a versatile snack or ingredient for recipes. For protein boost and nutty crunch, add to sautéed vegetables before serving or sprinkle on mixed green salads. To make a dressing or sauce, grind pumpkin seeds with olive oil, herbs and lemon. For a power-packed breakfast, add chopped pumpkin seeds to your favorite hot or cold cereal, or sprinkle on yogurt. An excellent addition to baked goods, add pumpkin seeds to oatmeal raisin cookies, homemade granola or other quick breads. Roast raw Styrian pumpkin seeds by baking in the oven at 300°F for 10 minutes and season to taste for a crunchy snack or topping. The possibilities are endless!

Making it Local

At Hummingbird we like to "Buy Local" and we are working toward a better global food system by growing more food closer to where we live, and doing it on Certified Organic farms. There are so many important benefits for the environment, for our region economically, and for our health and wellbeing. You can find these organic pumpkin seeds, grown right here in the Willamette Valley, at local natural grocery retailers, coming exclusively from Hummingbird Wholesale.


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