Harvesting Sunflowers

Do you love the beauty of tall sunflowers in the corner of a garden? What about sunflower seeds? Do you enjoy eating them roasted? Have you ever grown and roasted your own? It’s so easy to do! Below are pics of the first sunflower harvest of this season. We’ve already gifted 2 family members with their own supply of seeds. I’m claiming the next batch for myself!

Sunflower head just before harvesting. We gently brush over the head to remove everything, revealing nothing but seeds afterward.

As you can see, this sunflower head was completely dead and dried out. You can also see all the seeds have fully formed. Before cutting this from the stalk, I like to take a plastic grocery bag and tie around the head. Then if the head falls to the ground by accident, I haven’t lost any precious seeds. They’ll all be safe inside the bag.

Once inside, I start plucking seeds out in to a strainer. Sometimes I brush my hand over the seeds to see how many fall out easily. There is usually a lot of debris as well, so it really just depends on how much debris you want to deal with. For me, I find it easier to just pluck out handfuls at a time and dust off the debris before tossing in the strainer. Once I’ve got enough to spread out for drying, I take the strainer to the sink and rinse the seeds really well. Afterward, I carefully place the seeds in a jar of water (making sure no debris goes in to the jar) then I add quite a bit of salt.

This jar probably has about 1/4 cup of salt mixed in to the water. (And that is not a very salty batch)

Next, I let my seeds soak overnight. This allows them to absorb some of that salty goodness. It takes a LOT of salt if you really want them salty though. The 1/4 cup I typically use in my 16 oz jar only slightly flavors the seeds. The next day, I scoop out the seeds and lay them on a cutting or baking sheet in a single layer so they can air dry. Make sure you DON’T rinse them after their salt soak.

Once they have dried (usually by the end of the day, I pop them in the oven for about 12-15 minutes at 325 to gently roast them. Once cooled, they are ready for storage. But if you are planning to eat them fresh, they definitely taste best when they are straight out of the oven!

What about you? Have you harvested your own seeds? Do you have any other flavors you think we should try? We would love to hear more from you. Please share any tips, tricks, recipes, success or failures below!

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