Styrian pumpkin seed oil (Steirisches Kürbiskernöl in German) is a remarkable artisan product.
Styria (Steiermarck in German) is a province in the southeastern part of Austria. Here and in parts of adjacent Slovenia they grow pumpkins that produce hull-less seeds. These seeds are roasted and pressed to produce a fabulous oil that puts all other pumpkin seed oils to shame. Whereas most North American versions are a yellow-brown colour, Styrian pumpkin seed oil is deep forest green, and powerfully redolent of roasted nuts.
Unfortunately I have not been able to find a high-quality Styrian pumpkin seed oil at any of the continental import shops in Edmonton like K & K. To get my fix I purchase online from Styrian Gold, a company in Ontario that imports direct from Austria. I buy it by the case for use at Salz Bratwurst Co. I also purchase the whole, hull-less seeds from Rancho Vignola.
How to Use Styrian Pumpkin Seed Oil
The most important thing to know about this oil is that you don’t cook it. Like ever. I know a lot of people say this about olive oil, but there are some olive oils you shouldn’t cook with, and some you definitely should. Styrian pumpkin seed oil is emphatically a finishing oil: cooking kills the aroma, produces bitter flavours, destroys the nutrients, and turns your food a weird brown colour.
There are old-timers in Austria that take a tablespoon of this oil every morning for its nutrients, like how some folks here take raw apple cider vinegar.
Here are my favourite ways to use the oil.
Garnish for Soup. The deep green oil looks amazing floated on a bowl of vibrant orange pumpkin or squash soup.
Finishing oil on salads. Especially tomato salad. Season the tomatoes with salt and a splash of vinegar. Let stand to marinate, then drizzle pumpkin seed oil over top just before serving.
“Styrian egg dish” is scrambled eggs finished with the province’s signature oil. I started making this dish with soft-boiled eggs still in their shell, instead of the traditional scramble. As the egg yolk is fatty, it mingles perfectly with the oil.
To prepare, cook a whole egg, in the shell, for five minutes in gently simmering water, so the whites have set, but the yolk is still runny. Crack the shell to expose the top of the egg, then use a spoon to remove the top of the white. Rest the egg on a bed of coarse salt, and spoon half a tablespoon of pumpkin seed oil into the yolk. Add a pinch of salt and enjoy.
I have tried this dish with other flavourful, high-quality oils, such as the canola, hemp, and flaxseed oils produced in Alberta.
On Ice Cream (Seriously)
When I worked at Looshaus in Kreuzberg they had a dessert called “ice cream with oil and vinegar”. It was a bowl of ice cream drizzled with Styrian pumpkin seed oil and apple balsamic vinegar. It sounds so, so weird, but is so, so delicious. When I make this at home I like to add some of the toasted pumpkin seeds for crunch. I call it Austrian rocky road :)