A Harvest of Sunflower Seeds

by Cynthia

The Sunflower House has seen better days I am afraid. The flowers have all since faded away and the stalks themselves are looking rather tired and worn. Even though our little house of towering sunflowers did not do quite as well as I had hoped it would it still was a lot of fun for both me and my kids. We all enjoyed watching the sunflowers grow and follow the path of the sun in the sky everyday.

Sunflower Seed Head

Now that the flowers are spent we have noticed the seed heads are ripening and some of the seed heads are huge. I have grown sunflowers before and have always left the seed heads up for the birds to enjoy throughout winter. I have never saved the seeds for us to eat before. That is about to change though as my two boys very much want in on the sunflower booty this year. Since I have never saved the sunflower seeds for us to eat I am really unsure as to how I go about harvesting them right now. With the threat of rain upon us today, I went out with my nine year old and we cut some of the nice looking seed heads down. There are well over a dozen sunflower heads out there that are full of seeds- more than enough for us and the birds to enjoy.

Bowing Sunflower

After cutting the sunflower heads down I went inside and proceeded to browse the internet looking for ways of preparing the seeds for our consumption. The first thing I read more than once was to cut the heads when the back has turned yellow. That is one of the best ways to know they are ready. (Or in my case the birds have already started to find them. This morning the Scrub Jay that loves to visit our garden every morning happily let me know he has found the seeds to be rather tasty.)  

Sunflower Seeds

A lot of people store the cut seed heads in their garage upside down with a brown paper bag while they wait for the seeds to finish drying out. I will probably do this as well. Once they are finished drying the seeds easily come off the head when you run your hand over it.

After the drying process is over next comes the roasting part. I suppose you could leave them raw and eat them that way but my boys want roasted, salted sunflower seeds so that is how we will be preparing ours. Come Halloween and pumpkin carving time I always save some of the pumpkin seeds and roast them for us to eat. I am wondering if I can roast the sunflower seeds the same way as I roast the pumpkin seeds.

When I roast pumpkin seeds I first soak them in a salt water solution overnight followed by their roast in the oven until they are nice and toasty. The pumpkin seeds always turn out so yummy and I don’t see why I could not roast the sunflower seeds this way once they are finished drying.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to how they might roast homegrown sunflower seeds? I cut down 8 sunflower heads today and I read that one head can have up to 2,000 seeds. That is a lot of seeds for two boys to eat!

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