The Q&A Archives: Harvesting Sunflower Seeds

Question: I have two large sunflowers and would like to be able to eat the seeds. Do I need to do something to them in order to make them edible?

Answer: There's really no mystery in harvesting sunflower seeds, and they make a tasty and healthful snack. Wait until the petals fall and the heads begin to droop. You'll notice the back of the seed heads will begin to turn yellow instead of green. Cut them along with about 2' of stem and hang them upside down to dry in a dry, well-ventilated place (such as a garage or attic) until fully dry. Remove the seeds by rubbing two heads together, or by using a stiff brush. Spread out the seeds in a tray and allow to them to dry completely, then store in plastic bags. Another option is to soak the seeds overnight in a strong salt solution, drain, spread on a shallow baking sheet, and roast at 200F degrees until crisp. The amount of salt depends on your taste. Try 1/3 cup of salt to a quart of water--if that's not salty enough, add more for your next batch. Depending upon size, your sunflower seeds can take 30 minutes to 3 hours to dry in the oven. Test often by taking a few seeds out of the oven, allowing to cool, and crunching between your teeth. You'll know when they're crispy dry. Store in an airtight container.

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