Wednesday, August 19, 2009

On Eating Roasted Melon Seeds

Roasted Melon SeedsWhile cleaning the seeds out of an orange-flesh honeydew melon recently, I found myself wondering if they could be roasted, like pumpkin seeds. After all, melons belong botanically to the same family (along with other squashes, cucumbers, and gourds), and roasted pumpkin seeds are delicious, so why not melon seeds?

It turns out that it's me that's behind the curve, because roasted melon seeds are consumed across much of the Middle East and Asia. I even found ready-to-eat, roasted, salted melon seeds available for on-line order.

The technique couldn't be simpler. Rinse away all of the pulp (that which is not seed, in other words), soak for awhile in heavily salted water, drain, and roast in a dry skillet until golden and puffed. Let cool.

Now comes the meditative part. These seeds are small, and they must be "shelled" to reveal the tiny, nutty germ inside. (I suspect that larger-seeded varieties provide the seeds for roasting in other countries.)

Holding a seed on edge, I bit down lightly on the pointy end until it popped open slightly, a surprisingly easy and, for some reason, delightfully sensual activity. Then, using my fingernails, I pried the seed apart to reveal…sometimes nothing, sometimes a tiny kernel, sometimes a surprisingly plump morsel nestled inside.

Eaten one at a time, the seeds had a delicious flavor, slightly salty and nutty. You could shell a cup of them and only end up with a tablespoon of edible bits.

So why bother?

I bothered (and I eventually ate every single seed) because I found the process quite meditative. I would sit at the table after dinner and go repetitively through the few steps required to open these diminutive seeds, an activity that coaxed me to draw my attention down from the sometimes hectic swirl that I whip up in my brain, to focus, with purpose, on gently opening a single seed. Sometimes there was a reward inside, and sometimes there was not. What a great lesson in attachment!

Eating melon seeds, I have decided, is not so much about the outcome (the kernels) as it is about the process, how we go about getting where we're going. And that's just as important as the finish line.

I told my sweetie I was getting in touch with my inner junco; he nodded gently in that way he has that means "How did I end up with someone this strange?"

Luckily for me, he likes juncos.


  1. I eat them whole. I like hard stuff :p

  2. Lovely to find this post and your blog. My youngest was asking me this morning why we couldn't roast melon seeds and you've given us the answer. They're soaking now. I love the contemplative nature of your post.

  3. It's like a sunflower seed!!

  4. Was going to roast these seeds in the oven but after reading your blogpost, think I will try the dry skillet method
    And I don't have enough energy for the shelling, I'll probably just have them whole like the first poster haha:p

  5. In the middle east street vendors sell little paper cones of roasted melon seeds. Perfecting the look-no-hands art of removing the nut is great fun. First you place the seed vertically with the tip between your two front teeth. Press down enough to open but not completely separate the shell. Then let the nut stick to the tip of your tongue. Then blow through your lips to see how far the shell will go. With practice you will get very fast. Kids pick this up quickly.