It’s the best season to start gathering most of your flower heads and their seeds in preparation for replanting next year, in fact, sunflowers are one of the best edible plants because their seeds are healthy and delicious. Sunflowers seeds are a better option in contrast to other snacks since they are high in phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin E. The supplements in the seeds can lessen your cholesterol level and help forestall heart ailments. If you currently have sunflowers growing in your garden, don’t fret, the flowers will let you know when the seeds are ripe for harvest. You should simply keep an eye on them, and be prepared to collect the seeds before birds and squirrels finish the goodies. If birds and squirrels can get to these seeds, so can you!
Here are steps involved in getting sunflower seeds
- Let the flowers hang
Enjoy the sunflowers in their magnificence for whatever length of time that you want, however, be more vigilant when the flower heads begin to hang and the petals start to wither. The bloom has started to get dry and the seeds are almost ripe for harvest. The seeds may end up attracting hostile (and hungry) wild animals. And though it is nice to let the flowers remain on the plant for longer, it is recommended that you remove the flowers with at least 12 inches of the stem, and leave it to dry in an area free of animals. Another option is that you use cheesecloth to wrap the flower head while it is still connected to the stalk – to discourage the animals from eating the seeds before you are ready to collect them.
- Collect the seeds
After the flowers become dry, simply shake on to a flat surface to dislodge the seeds. If you wrapped the head with cheesecloth, you may see that the free seeds have started to oust themselves. Sunflower seeds will effortlessly drop out with a little pressure – like brushing it with your hand – so prepare a paper bag or bowl to gather the seeds. Sift through the seeds, and discard any seed that seem discolored or damaged.
- Store some seeds for replanting
If you managed to gather a large yield of sunflower seeds, consider storing a portion of those seeds for replanting the next year. Glass containers like coffee jars are perfect for storing the seeds from one season to another. Just make sure that the seeds are completely dry before you store them.
- Store some for the wild for winter
Want to score some love from wildlife like birds and squirrels that visit your garden? Store away some seeds from them and give it to them on cold winter days.
- Roast the remaining
What to do with the rest of the seeds? Wash them completely in cool water, and leave them to dry thoroughly on towels. After drying them for a day, you can start eating them. Sunflower seeds are a nutritious and healthy snack that is an extraordinary addition to servings of trail-mix or mixed greens. They are likewise perfect for reading a book, playing basketball or on picnic on summer days. Why let them waste?
Here are straightforward ways to cook sunflower seeds
- raw sunflower seeds (1 cup)
- Salt (2 TBSP)
- water (940 ml)
Add pretty much salt to taste, up to 1/4 cup kosher salt for 1 quart of water.
- Oven-roasted seeds
Pour water into a bowl and pour in the seeds. Add table/kosher salt to taste, utilizing 2 TBSP salt for every 940 ml of water. Place a cover on the bowl and leave the seeds to soak for some hours, preferably overnight. If you don’t have the patience for the long soaking time, boil the sunflower seeds in salted water: Add the water, seeds, and salt into a pot. Put the pot on a stove and let it reach a boil. Adjust the stove setting to low and let the pot content simmer for about 30 minutes. Preheat your oven at 350°F. Pour the seeds into a sieve to drain out the water. Spread only one layer of seeds on a baking tray and place it in the top rack of the oven. Let the seeds roast for about 20 minutes.
In no time, the seeds will start cracking in the middle as they cook. Eat a seed after each mixing round to check whether the seeds are done cooking. If they have not reached the stage that you want, put the tray back in the oven for another 4 minutes. Continue checking like clockwork until they are dry enough and roasted to your satisfaction. When you are done roasting them, take the tray out of the oven and allow the seeds to cool down. Proceed to pour the seeds in an airtight glass jar to keep them fresh.
- Microwave-roasted seeds
After soaking your seeds overnight, place the seeds on a flat ceramic or another microwavable plate. Microwave it on high for 1 minute. Take out the plate and stir the seeds, and microwave for 1 more minute. Repeat this cycle for about five times or till the seeds become crunchy.
Assortments of flavored sunflower seeds
Roast the sunflower seeds with either of the two methods explained above. Put about 1 cup of the warm seeds into a bowl. Add melted butter (1 tsp) and any seasoning of your choice (2 tsp). The best seasonings that you can add to sunflower seeds include dry barbeque, garlic, cayenne pepper etc. Cover the bowl and shake it to toss the seeds and allow them to be coated with the seasoning and butter. Spread the seeds on a paper towel to remove any excess butter and enjoy your snack.
- Honey Coated
You can use raw sunflower seeds for this honey snack. Mix 1 cup of seeds with salt (1 tsp), sunflower oil (2 TBS), and warmed honey (3 TBS). Spread a layer on a baking tray and roast at 350°F for 20-30 minutes till the seeds become golden. Stir the seeds regularly so the seeds don’t burn. They will turn out like sweets; eat and enjoy.
- Old Bay Seasoned
Soak sunflower seeds (2 cups) with water (1 cup) and Old Bay flavoring (1/2 cup) overnight. Drain off the water and roast the seeds in an oven at 350°F for 20-30 minutes or till the seeds become golden. Nibble away!
If you don’t have sunflowers yet in your garden, hope this article has inspired you to grow them or take them from your friend’s garden. Have fun snacking on your healthy treat that you will make when the flowers droop.