In Eastern Europe in the region of Austria, Yugoslavia and Hungary pumpkins are often used for livestock feed. The Hungarian Mammoth Pumpkins (Cucurbita maxima) could easily exceed 100 pounds. Much smaller are the Styrian Pumpkins (Cucurbita pepo) of the same region, only a few pounds, which not only fed livestock but the seeds; rich in oil, were removed to press into a dark green oil used in salads and drizzled into soups and pasta. In Stryia it is as popular as olive oil and imparts a pleasant nutty flavor. The interesting trait of the Syrian Pumpkin, sometimes called Kakai are the seeds that are naked. They lack a testa or seed coat. When snacking on pumpkin seeds, the seed coat is the white shell that has to be removed because of it's toughness. Styrian and other naked seed (or snackseed pumpkins) either partially lack the tough seed coat or in some cases, completely lack a seed coat.
Breeding Naked or Snackseed Pumpkins
Several years ago we began to collect various breeding lines of snackseed type pumpkins which include Johnny's Seeds popular Baby Bear (which is quite a beautful little pumpkin) and others. A mass cross of the many kinds that we were able to collect produced quite a bit of diversity to work with. We were inspired by Elwyn Meader's work on some of the first commercial snackseed varieties released in the 1960's such as his acorn and delicata squash such as "Sweetnut" and "Eat-It-All" which I grew many years ago. Recently, Brent Loy at the University of New Hampshire has worked on developing snackseed type pumpkins for maximum seed yield characteristics.
Our selection was for complete naked seed, eliminating the partial shell of the partly naked kinds such as Baby Bear and also preserving a good looking quality decorative Halloween Pumpkin such as Baby Bear, Lady Godiva and Triple Treat. That little bit of seed testa is chewy and imparts a straw-like flavor. Our interest in the quality of the flesh as a pie pumpkin was not an important factor since most people who grow the pumpkin for seed will grow others for pie such as moschata types.
Note that the dark green membrane surrounding the cotyledons slough off as the seeds were removed from the fruit. It only happened with a few of the fruit. The flavor of the seeds was considered "superior" to seeds that retain the dark "skin". The trait is not genetics so much but rather, we feel it is a function of how we harvest and process the fruit. It would be nice to be able to process the seed like this for a better tasting product.
Little Greenseed is our new development. Initially we called it Pamela Greenseed since it incorporates some of the genetics of a nice little pumpkin called Baby Pam. Stability? There were a few fruit that had less green or less plump seed. Pumpkin size is usually less than a pound but we have had some 2-3 pounders. We leave it up to you to refine it according to your preferences. Little Greenseed is now commercially available from www.northforkseeds.com.