Saving Seeds: Winter Squash

Delicata squash is a joy, plus.  Do notice the recent post where I made use of nearly everything except the seeds and that stringy stuff that holds the seeds in place.

There are three things you can do with the seeds.

Homesteading, squash, seed saving

There’s my little delicata seeds, waiting patiently for sprouting in spring. Some will be swapped. (Or, roasted…) Only so many squash vines one may have space for!

  1. Save them for the chickens (along with the stringy stuff).  No further treatment necessary.  PS, do NOT salt any squash seeds intended for poultry!
  2. Soak briefly and remove them from the stringy stuff, dry them for a few days, coat with a bare minimum of olive oil, salt, and roast.  Eat like you would pumpkin seeds (it’s the same thing, effectively).
  3. Save seeds for next year’s crop, so you don’t have to buy your own squash (of the cultivar you saved) ever again!


Stuffed delicata, squash, potato, persimmon, cabbage, recipe, vegetarian, gluten-free, Paleo

Slice open, remove seeds and stringy stuff. I used a serving spoon to scrape them all out.

Saving Seeds:  Winter Squash

Remove seeds from a fully-ripe winter squash of whatever variety.  If you are saving seeds from a number of varieties, keep them all separate.  Label them.  Trust me, you won’t remember which is which, unlabeled!

Place them in a bowl of water to cover, overnight.  Don’t worry about the stringy stuff yet.  Leave them on the counter.

Next day, set up a cookie pan or two, and line them with parchment paper.

Drain the seeds through a sieve.

Remove the seeds from any still-attached stringy stuff, and plop them on the parchment paper, keeping them from piling up on one another – your goal is to keep them more or less not touching their compatriots.  You don’t need to save EVERY seed – I saved as many as I did since I may want to participate in springtime seed swaps.

Let them dry out for 2.5-3 weeks, and the more humid your air might be, let them dry longer accordingly.

You can also take extra seeds after a week more or less, and go up to Option 2 above, and roast those as noted at this point…

At any rate, when your seeds are very dry, collect them — it is easy to peel them off parchment paper, and most will drop off on their ownsome anyway — and place in a tightly sealable container.  Store in a cool dark place until planting season come spring.  Or that seed swap meet!

Notes for planting:

Winter squash falls under the genus Curcubita.  There are three main species of winter squash:  Curcubita pepoCurcubita moschata, and Curcubita maxima.  As an example, Delicata is a variety of Curcubita pepo, which means it will cross with other varieties of Curcubita pepo — so you probably don’t want to plant another variety in the same species anywhere near the former, as your squash crop will hybridize.  (Other Curcubita pepo cultivars include acorn squash and spaghetti squash and your generic field pumpkin, all with their own very unique traits!)   Frankly, it would be amusing to see if a hybrid of delicata and spaghetti would produce a squash with edible skin and noodle-y spaghetti-like flesh… but don’t hold your breath!!!  

Plant seeds right after the last frost, since there’s a long time before your crop will bear fruit.  Of course, exactly pinpointing the very LAST frost is a skill that wouldn’t have worked around here last spring… but there’s some leeway in this.


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About goatsandgreens

The foodie me: Low/no gluten, low sugars, lots of ethnic variety of foods. Seafood, offal, veggies. Farmers' markets. Cooking from scratch, and largely local. The "future" me: I've now moved to my new home in rural western Massachusetts. I am raising chickens (for meat and for eggs) and planning for guinea fowl, Shetland sheep, and probably goats and/or alpaca. Possibly feeder pigs. Raising veggies and going solar.
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12 Responses to Saving Seeds: Winter Squash

  1. Laura says:

    So interesting to read your method – drying them naturally over a matter of weeks. I recently posted on drying them in the oven or a dehydrator machine (which I use) – I didn’t realise they would dry out on their own….one to try!

    • Yes, just takes longer, but works very well. After a week I did move them to a smaller platter to conserve space. They have another week to go (started this a bit before writing up the post.)

  2. Your post brings back memories of my seed-saving days. Back when I had my 40×120” garden plus pumpkin and corn patch I was saving all kinds of seeds. I learned a lot in those days. Thanks for sharing with Fiesta Friday.

  3. helenfern says:

    Great info – Thanks for Sharing at the What’s for Dinner party. Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

  4. Italian Kiwi says:

    A perfectly timed post! I just baked a squash that grew out of my compost heap, and was wondering what to do with all the seeds. I think I’ll keep some for planting and roast the rest. thanks!

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