Should I eat pumpkin seeds?
October 31, 2010 10:55 PM   Subscribe

Should I eat this? Pumpkin seeds were soaking in salt water for several days. Still okay to roast and eat?

According to family tradition, pumpkin seeds should soak in salt water overnight before roasting. I put them in water to soak with about 1/4 cup of salt intending to roast them the next day but I got horribly sick and they've been sitting on the counter since. I changed the water/salt once. Tonight it has been about 6 days.

Are they still okay to roast and eat?
posted by HMSSM to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure that's a great answer- The query here is more about the safety of the food, not the water. Would I drink water that's been out for 6 days? Probably only if I was really thirsty, but that's because water is utterly without any kind of compelling value- I can open the faucet and drink my fill for pennies.

Better question: Would you eat a porkchop that's been sitting in a bin of water for 6 days? A fish? A bowl of cereal? The water is unimportant.

Unless someone can enlighten us to the spoilage/lifetime of a pumpkin seed, I'm gonna have to go with "I wouldn't".
posted by GilloD at 11:13 PM on October 31, 2010

If it were me, I would roast them and see if they tasted ok. I would assume that the salt is helping to preserve them. Plus pumpkin seeds are tasty and thus worth trying to rescue. I don't study microscopic organisms.
posted by aniola at 11:22 PM on October 31, 2010

If the pumpkin seeds have started sprouting, yes, they're safe to eat.

If they have started rotting (i.e., the water is cloudy and there is an unpleasant odor), no, I wouldn't eat them.

You can always try cracking 1-2 seeds to see if they're still edible. Unlike animal products, it takes some extraordinary spoilage to make a plant-derived food dangerous for your health.
posted by Nomyte at 11:25 PM on October 31, 2010

When I did that earlier this month, I tossed them. Two days is the most I've gone in terms of soaking and still using.
posted by Ruki at 11:26 PM on October 31, 2010

Oh, on non-preview, the recent two day soaked seeds (which was not on purpose) were the best pumpkin seeds I've ever made. Absolutely not rotten. But I still wouldn't use six day soaked seeds.
posted by Ruki at 11:28 PM on October 31, 2010

Salt is a well-known preservative.
posted by alexei at 11:32 PM on October 31, 2010

Response by poster: Nomyte they haven't done either. They don't smell bad and they haven't sprouted.

My thoughts were that the saltiness would have helped preserve them and the roasting would... um... kill anything else.
posted by HMSSM at 11:33 PM on October 31, 2010

Best answer: In my opinion anything that doesn't smell bad is probably fine to eat.

You can always roast them and then see what you think. Or eat just one, and if it tastes bad, then throw the batch out. It's kind of like that expired yogurt thread we had a while back - the worst that would happen is that you'd eat one and it would taste gross and you would think to yourself, "wow, that was fucking gross..." It's not going to kill you on point of contact with your tongue.
posted by Sara C. at 11:39 PM on October 31, 2010

Best answer: I've eaten ones that soaked for longer than two days. If they haven't started to smell bad, I would roast them and taste them.

Think about the sunflower seeds that you leave in your cabinet for months. Nuts and seeds preserve well. I know the water would accelerate decay, but you would likely be able to see or smell this happening.
posted by salvia at 11:55 PM on October 31, 2010

I would expect uncovered seeds in this situation to sprout or ferment, although the salt may have prevented this. If there are no signs of mold and there's no bad smell they are almost certainly safe to eat.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:32 AM on November 1, 2010

How much salt is in there? Yeah it's a preservative, but only when the salinity gets over a certain level. I'm not sure what it is but pretty high, I'd be surprised if yours counts.

The 'if it smells good' thing never works and is always bad advice. I kind of can't believe that people are still saying it. Vegetable matter itself doesn't necessarily rot easily, particularly seeds which are made to stay clean inside their case, but read up about e.coli biofilms on things like spinach and you'll see that otherwise normal looking vegetable matter can make you very sick.

The things I'd be thinking about are: Was the water and seeds clean? How salty is the water anyway? Was the room really warm? How much do you care if you get really sick again when you've already just been sick? How easy is it to just buy new seeds?

If everything was clean and well handled to start with (e.g. seeds straight out of the pumpkin or something) then you're probably OK (as it clearly hasn't grown fungus). But if there is any chance of bacterial contamination then roasting isn't going to fix it, and you need new seeds.
posted by shelleycat at 1:04 AM on November 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

Microbiologist agreeing with shelleycat here. Smelling good doesn't tell you anything, even though smelling bad does indeed point to spoilage.

Here's the thing. Brining is good preservative. The real question I'd have is how much water did you combine with your quarter cup of salt?
posted by Mercaptan at 7:43 AM on November 1, 2010

Response by poster: It was about 1/4 cup of salt to about 2-3 cups of water.

I ended up roasting an eating a few. While they tasted perfectly "fine" they were ridiculously salty so I think I will just pitch them.

thanks for all the answers!
posted by HMSSM at 6:29 PM on November 1, 2010

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