Kakai Pumpkin Seeds

Last fall was the first time we’d heard about Kakai pumpkins, a unique variety desirable for its hulless seeds. It’s of Austrian origin, grown solely for its seeds, and is especially known for the valuable green pumpkin seed oil it produces. We picked this one up from Two Toad Farm last December, and it has resided on the mantle in the months since.

It was mid-March by the time I got around to opening the Kakai up. Its storage place above the wood-burning stove was less than ideal, but it kept its integrity, with no signs of rot. I scooped out the seeds, separated them from the flesh, and gave them a quick rinse. They were spread out on a kitchen towel, and then left to dry. I dry roasted them at 175° for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring once or twice.

If available at the farmers’ market, select the larger ones, with an eye to the amount of seeds it might contain rather than flesh. They’ll feel light for their size, and should average in the five to eight pound range.  At less than five pounds, this specimen was on the small side, and yielded less than a cup of seeds. The seeds are equally delicious raw or roasted, and can be used in any place you would something nutty or want a bit of crunch, say as a garnish for soup or salad, or in a pesto. I especially like the possibility of using these to make your own pumpkin seed oil.

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15 Responses to Kakai Pumpkin Seeds

  1. Norma Chang says:

    I like the idea of hulless pumpkin seeds. Must look for this pumpkin at the local farmers market.

    • leduesorelle says:

      These are much more versatile than the regular kind! They should reappear at the farmers’ markets in fall, otherwise, it’s not too late to consider growing your own — High Mowing and Johnny’s both sell seeds for them.

  2. I too have never heard of these and don’t know if we can obtain them in the UK-will have to look…

    Many thanks for the post-informative as ever!!

    • leduesorelle says:

      It seems the Kakai is a Japanese hybrid of the Styrian pumpkin, an Austrian heirloom, which might be easier for you to find; maybe Chiltern Seed has it? You can also look for other hybrids that produce hull-less seeds, also known in some parts as “naked-seeded.” We have another hybrid available here that’s called Lady Godiva, which has a more edible, orange flesh.

  3. Liz says:

    I wonder if this is the variety they get the seeds that are sold here as pepitas from. I eat pepitas everyday so that would be really useful – the hulling process of other seeds has always put me off.

    • leduesorelle says:

      Same as you, I’m accustomed to pepitas and don’t quite understand the appeal of eating squash seeds that need to be hulled… These hull-less seeds are the same as pepitas, and it’s why I was thrilled to find them. It makes them easier to eat, but they do have a lower germination rate than pumpkin seeds with hulls.

  4. maryhysong says:

    I have no market near me that would carry this; anyplace you know of in the US to get seeds?

    • leduesorelle says:

      High Mowing, Johnny’s, and Abundant Life are some of the places that carry the seeds for Kakai. “The Compleat Squash” has a whole chapter on naked seeded pumpkins, and includes: Styrian and Lady Godiva (the two closest to Kakai); also Dagestan, Kumi Kumi, and Howden. You can also try searching for “hulless,” “hull-less,” or “naked seed” pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo) for other varieties or hybrids. As I mentioned above, these have a lower germination rate.

    • Dawnevire says:

      In the 2014 catalogs I came aross two companies that sold seeds for hull-less pumkins.
      Jung(www.jungseed.com)-Kakai 5-8lb. 100 days 25seeds for $3.45
      Territorial Seed Company(www.TerritorialSeed.com)-Beppo 10-14lb. 100 days 3gm$3.15

      I grew the Beppo and they did not reach the promised 10 to 14 lb., but it was a cool wet year and my plants were hampered by squash boars. I planted two plants and got one good sized pumkin from each, but the catalog said you could get two to three per plant.

  5. Reb says:

    Grew these for the first time this year and the seeds are incredible! Yield of seeds from four squash was gobbled up in one afternoon by my family. If you like roasted pumpkin seeds, you will absolutely LOVE these seeds!

  6. Glenn Fryer says:

    greetings. I have a couple comments of the ‘Kakai’ pumpkin. There is no evidence of it being a hybrid from japan. I believe it is an old open pollinated variety. The internet has alot of contradictory information on this variety. As to it having a lower germination rate due to it’s hull-less state. I have found that to be untrue. I planted five seed outdoors last summer and acheived 100% germination.
    I just planted 10 seed from last years pumpkins indoors w/ bottom heat and had 100% germination within five days. Thought I’d let you all know. BTW, the seeds are good sized easy to remove and very tasty raw or gently roasted.

  7. Peta Goodman says:

    Seeds for Kakai pumpkins are definitely available from Chiltern Seeds. They are easy to grow and seem to pollinate with no problems. I grew 2 smallish pumpkins last summer here in the Midlands and got a cup of seeds from each. Tip : don’t rinse them before lightly roasting. They will have a wonderful “melony” flavour that is worth all the effort!

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