How to Harvest and Roast Sunflower Seeds

Recipes

Seeds and nuts are a great source of snacking protein. Unfortunately, some varieties can be quite expensive making it difficult to add them into a daily routine. Luckily, sunflower seeds are not usually too expensive, and are even less pricey if you grow and harvest them at home. Sunflower seeds are also a great source of Vitamin B, calcium and iron making them a great alternative to junk food type snacks. Another benefit of growing and roasting them at home is that you can control the sodium levels. Sunflower seeds packaged and sold in stores often times contain high amounts of sodium that can outweigh the nutritional benefits of this easy to produce snack.

Growing sunflowers at home is fairly easy if you start your seeds at the right time and maintain the growth of the plant. I have several blog posts on this topic if you’d like to check that out. In this post, I’m going to mostly focus on the harvesting and the roasting of the seeds themselves. I do highly encourage everyone to try growing their own sunflowers. They are fun to watch grow because they start as tiny seeds and grow into monstrous sometimes 6 feet tall flowers that follow the sun with their big golden faces. Our sunflowers were of the Mammoth variety, making them very large in size and produced loads of seeds per head. All in all, 4 flowers were originally seeded and 3 of them made it through a full life cycle. The flower you see in these images was actually the smallest of the 3, but still produced enough sunflower seeds to keep us snacking for days if not a couple weeks.

To begin, make sure that the sunflower head has spent enough time on it’s stalk to completely dry out. This can be determined by the stalk and the back of the flower itself turning yellow and even brown in color. Some people have issues with birds and other critters stealing the seeds as they dry, if you have this issue, you can always cut the heads of the flowers off first and dry them inside by hanging them upside down by their stalk. Once the seeds have completely dried out, you can remove the head of the flower from the stalk by cutting it with your garden shears or scissors.

Once the head is removed, bring it inside and give it a good rinse to remove any loose leaves or other outside remnants. Remove the outer leaves as well. Once removed, you can start pulling the seeds from the flower. I did this by gently bending the body of the flower head outward and popping the seeds out with my hands, sort of like an ice cube tray.

Once all the seeds have been removed, place them in a bowl of water and add salt if desired. I used a couple teaspoons of Himilayan pink salt, but you can use regular salt or leave them unsalted if you prefer. Let them soak in the water overnight. This will keep the seeds from over-roasting in the oven as well as help the seeds to absorb the salt from the water (if added).

After the seeds have finished soaking, you can preheat your oven to 300°F and place the seeds on a parchment lined baking sheet. Try to remove as much water from the seeds as you can by first straining them out of the water and then patting them with a paper towel. This step can be a bit frustrating since the seeds will want to stick to the towel, but just try to make sure that all the seeds end up in a single layer on the parchment paper. Roast the seeds for about 30-40 minutes. Mine went for 35 minutes, and I could smell them roasting at about 30 minutes. You want the shells to turn a nice golden brown color.

Let the seeds cool before storing them. I like to put them in a plastic bag or in a jar to maintain their freshness. And that’s it! Now you have a surplus of snacking seeds and you did it all from home! It’s always so fun to see the fruits from your garden being made into things you might buy all the time without thinking about how they’re made. This was definitely one of those projects for me 🙂 I hope you enjoyed this post, let me know in the comments below if you’ve ever made sunflower seeds or if you plan on planting them next year.

Until next time,

MelissaRose

Pre-Sprouting Seeds

Sustainability

This post is meant as a New Year’s 2019 Resolution check-in, specifically on the progress of my gardening. I wrote a post a while back about how you could in fact garden in January. Now this doesn’t mean digging in the dirt and planting things, what I meant is to start planning your garden. Throughout January (we only have 3 days left, how crazy is that?) I have been working on planning out my space. This involved sketching out my boxes and plants, figuring out which items would do well grown next to each other, and deciding that I want to implement some sort of irrigation system this year to make my goals easier to attain. I live in zone 9b and we get some pretty crazy hot summers, so deciding to add a drip system is really a no-brainer. Once I had a plan, I made a list of the seeds I wanted to buy. I didn’t need to buy containers or planters, because throughout the last few months, I had been saving things that I thought might prove useful to my new journey. I collected several egg cartons, some random plastic trays from snack packaging and had several ziploc bags on hand for my pre-sprouting.

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Pre-sprouting is basically a first step in getting your seeds ready to plant. I’ve never started a garden from seeds, so I’m really just doing my research and trying to decide what will work best for me. Pre-sprouting sounded like a good idea because it gave me the ability to see which seeds would actually sprout before throwing them into the dirt. This alleviates a few things – wasting seeds, crowding seeds and eventually thinning out plants if more should sprout than you expect. Pre-sprouting also make the seeds sprout faster than if they were started in soil, and for me, it just seemed like the safest way to get this project started. Since I am in the zone that I am, I can start most of my seeds fairly early in the year indoors. Check the planting times for your zone to ensure your seeds are being started at the proper time for your areas climate. This process is really quite simple, I did it in only about an hours time after work on a weekday, and it only requires a few supplies. I’m going to write it out like a recipe in hopes that it’s easier to follow and understand. Please note, that I did this only a day ago, so nothing has sprouted yet, but I will update on how well this works for me once they do (fingers crossed).

Pre-Sprouting Seeds

Paper towels, I used the narrow towels cut in halves, you need one half for every type of seed you will be pre-sprouting

Ziploc bags, I am using snack bags but any size should work, you need one bag for every type of seed. These act like a green house around your seeds.

Water, you can use the faucet or a spray bottle if you prefer. Spray bottles make it easier to dampen the paper towels down the road when they start to dry out.

Vegetable seeds, all of your favorites will do.

Permanent marker or some way of labeling your baggies

A tray of some sort to keep your baggies on. I am using a black plastic tray from an old vegetable snack tray. I think the black will help with heat retention and keeping the seeds warm.

  1. The first thing I did was label each ziploc bag with the name of the seed that would go into it. This made it so that I didn’t crush the seeds once they were in there. Other ideas I’ve seen online is to place a piece of masking tape on the outside of the bag and write on that.
  2. Take your paper towel halves and dampen. I did this by running them under my kitchen sink and wringing out. You can do this, or use a spray bottle.
  3. Lay the damp paper towel out flat. Place a row of seeds in the center of the paper towel. Do a couple extra seeds to how many plants you want as not all may sprout (this is normal). Do not place them on top of one another or too close. Try to do a nice spaced out row.
  4. Gently fold the damp paper towel around the seeds and place into the ziploc bag. Do not seal.
  5. Place unsealed ziploc bags with seeds onto your tray and put somewhere warm and in the sun. The seeds need sun, warmth and humidity to sprout. If you do not have a sunny place, you can use a grow light. At night, I place my tray on top of my refrigerator to stay slightly warm and during the day, I put under a window that I know gets a bit of natural sun during the day.
  6. Now, we wait. This part is killing me if I’m being honest. I want them to sprout meow. But good things take time. So let’s be patient together, and dampen those paper towels with a spray bottle if they become dry.

According to my research, the seeds should start sprouting in about 2-7 days. I will post an update once mine start sprouting. Good luck!

Are you growing your garden from seeds? Are you pre-sprouting? What are your favorite vegetables to grow?

MelissaRose