Harvesting Sunflower Seeds

Harvesting sunflower seeds will give you two delicious options: roast whole seeds as a tasty and nutritious chewing snack or process the seeds so you’re left with just the inner seed kernel to eat...

When to Harvest Sunflower Seeds

Before harvesting sunflowers seeds, look at the green disk behind the flower... its color will let you know when it's ready: you should not attempt to dry seeds until this “disk” has started to yellow. To stop birds from getting to your seeds before you do, cover the flower head with a paper bag after all the petals have dropped.

Your seeds are ready to harvest when the disk behind the flower becomes brown.

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Harvesting Sunflower Seeds

The paper bag you placed over your sunflowers (from the previous section) also helps you collect seeds. Position the bag over the flower as soon as all the petals have dropped.

Cut the drooping flower where it meets the stem. Any loose seeds should fall into the paper bag you’ve used to protect the seeds from birds.

Now that the seeds are ready, they can be removed from the flower easily by rubbing the seed heads with your hand.

After they've fallen off, spread the seeds out on a plate or tray to dry out. At this stage, all the seeds are whole with outer shell and kernel intact.

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Storing Harvested Sunflower Seeds

Seeds are best stored in an envelope, paper or cloth bag. Using jars or tins may result in mold growing.

You can also roast seeds right away to create a tasty, nutritious snack...

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Preparing Sunflower Seeds for Eating

Sunflower seeds’ outer shells are tough. Either roast whole seeds as a tasty and nutritious chewing snack, discarding the outer shell during eating or process the seeds so you’re left with just the inner seed kernel to eat.

To prepare just the inner seed kernel...

  1. Put half a cup of seeds at a time into a seed mill or ordinary electric mixer.
  2. Pulse the mixer for three seconds.
  3. Check the shells are breaking. If many are still intact pulse for three seconds more.
  4. To separate the shell from the kernel, put the broken seeds into a bowl of cold water. The shells will float to the top.
  5. Keep skimming the shells off the top off the water until you are left with just the kernels.
  6. Dump the water and kernels in a strainer.
  7. Spread the seed kernels on a tray.
  8. Store in an airtight jar and add salt or seasoning.

How to Chew Sunflower Seeds

Mastering the art of seed-chewing is a healthy and tasty - and oddly fun - way to pass the time.

After your seeds are roasted and prepared (see instructions to the left), start by chewing only one seed at a time.

After popping the seed into your mouth, first enjoy sucking the flavoring from the outer shell. Then place the shell between your top and bottom front teeth so that the shell's crack is parallel with your teeth. Crack the shell by biting down slowly and gently.

After it's cracked, remove the outer shell with or without your fingers and discard. Last but not least, chew and swallow the kernel.

After you've mastered one seed at a time, you can start chewing multiple seeds at once. Simply store the excess seeds between your bottom-left or bottom-right lip and gums, then use your tongue to pull out one seed at a time.

Happy seed chewing!

To roast whole seeds...

  1. Wash your seeds in a sieve or colander.
  2. Soak seeds overnight in a tray of water.
  3. Sprinkle salt over them.
  4. Drain off the water and let the seeds dry.
  5. Spread seeds on a baking sheet.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit (149 C) for 30-40 minutes. Check them every ten minutes to make sure they do not burn.
  7. Once they’re roasted, remove from the tray and place onto a cool plate.
  8. Sprinkle with your chosen seasoning such as smoked paprika or garlic salt.
  9. Store in a kilner jar or other airtight container.
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