Ah, pumpkin seed oil! It’s a tasty and nutritious oil that’s made from, you guessed it, pumpkin seeds.
It’s often used in cooking, as well as for its potential health benefits.
So, let’s dig in and find out everything there is to know about this delicious oil!
What is pumpkin seed oil?
Pumpkin seed oil, also known as pepita oil, is an oil extracted from pumpkin seeds.
It’s a type of vegetable oil that is rich in healthy fats and antioxidants.
Pumpkin seed oil has a rich, dark green color, a viscous, oily mouthfeel, and a distinct nutty flavor that’s similar to roasted pumpkin seeds. It’s often used in salad dressings or as a finishing oil.
How is pumpkin seed oil made?
Pumpkin seed oil is commonly produced by pressing roasted, hulled pumpkin seeds. The seeds are first roasted to enhance the flavor and aroma before being pressed to extract the oil.
The cleaned and roasted seeds are subjected to pressure, typically using a hydraulic press, which releases the oil.
Some versions of pumpkin seed oil are cold-pressed, skipping the roasting step, to preserve more nutrients and offer a lighter taste.
When purchasing pumpkin seed oil, I recommend looking for a cold-pressed, organic, and high-quality option to ensure the best flavor and nutrients.
Benefits of pumpkin seed oil
Pumpkin seed oil boasts several potential health benefits due to its rich nutritional profile.
It’s a great source of unsaturated fatty acids, particularly omega-3 and omega-6, which support heart health and reduce inflammation in the body.
Additionally, pumpkin seed oil is packed with antioxidants, including vitamin E and carotenoids, which promote healthy skin, protect against free radicals, and boost immune function.
The oil also contains phytosterols, which can help lower cholesterol levels.
It’s worth noting that while pumpkin seed oil is generally safe for consumption, it is high in calories, so it should be consumed in moderation. As with any dietary supplement or oil, it is best to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating it into your diet.
Pumpkin seed oil nutrition facts
|Serving size||1 tbsp (15mL)|
|Total Fat||14 g|
The primary fat source is bolded.
How to cook and bake with pumpkin seed oil
Two things about pumpkin seed oil: it has an intense flavor and a low smoke point, around 320°F, which is similar to extra-virgin olive oil, so it’s generally used in smaller amounts in cold or warm dishes as a finishing oil rather than a cooking oil.
When heated, pumpkin seed oil can turn bitter and lose it beneficial properties. So, I recommend using it just before serving. Drizzle it over cooked vegetables, pasta, or soups to add a nutty flavor…. or use it in nutty pestos, or a simple oil dip for artisanal bread instead of your typical olive oil!
Pumpkin seed oil also makes excellent salad dressings and marinades for meat. However, pumpkin seed oil can be quite heavy, so I recommend mixing it with other oils like olive oil or canola oil rather than using it on its own.
Or, similar to hemp oil, you can use pumpkin seed oil to add some healthy fats to your smoothies or granola!
Ways to use pumpkin seed oil
Here are some suggestions for what you can make with pumpkin seed oil:
- Salad dressing
- Drizzle over roasted butternut squash soup
- Tossed with cooked quinoa and roasted vegetables
- Finishing oil for grilled seafood or steamed vegetables
- Marinade for meats
- In smoothies or shakes
Remember, these are just suggestions – feel free to get creative!
How to store pumpkin seed oil
Pumpkin seed oil tastes bitter if it goes rancid, so be sure to keep it in the fridge or a cool, dark place. Leave it in the dark bottle it comes in, which protects it from sunlight that causes the oil to go rancid.
When properly stored, unopened pumpkin seed oil can last up to one year, while opened bottles should be consumed within six months to maintain its optimal flavor and quality.
What are the best substitutes for pumpkin seed oil?
If you don’t have pumpkin seed oil on hand, no worries! There are some nut and seed oil alternatives you can try that offer slightly different flavor profiles…
The best option is walnut oil, which is great for using in raw dishes and has a taste that comes closest to pumpkin seed oil.
If you’re looking for an oil that you can cook with, sesame oil is a good choice. It has a nutty flavor that can complement a variety of dishes and is used sparingly like pumpkin seed oil.
And if you need an oil for high-heat cooking methods, I recommend peanut oil.
Pumpkin seed oil is known for its potential health benefits, such as supporting prostate health, promoting heart health, and providing essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.
While generally safe for consumption for most people, individuals who are allergic to pumpkin seeds or have a known seed allergy should avoid taking pumpkin seed oil.
Pumpkin seed oil is also commonly referred to as pepita oil.