If you are planning on planting a garden this Spring, you may consider growing sunflowers. They are always really fun for the kids as they grow quickly, usually get very large, and are a beautiful addition to the vegetation. I LOVE seeing my sunflowers growing and blooming with their large yellow faces following the sun each day. PLUS: you can harvest the seeds and have a delicious treat straight from your garden! Which again, is a very fun activity for kiddos. Here’s the how-to on harvesting your sunflower seeds! There are a number of different methods you can follow, but this is how we did it.
Step one to harvesting sunflower seeds is getting them off of the flower face. We waited until the flowers started to droop and most of the little disc flowers on the ends of the seeds had dried out. We then cut the flowers off the stems and laid them out to dry for a few days. I found out later that we probably should have covered them with a paper bag or cheesecloth to protect the seeds, but we didn’t (oops!) and they still turned out fine. Once the seeds look sufficiently dry, you can simply brush them off of the flower head by gently rubbing your hand over the seeds. The boys enjoyed this part and our hen Edna Pearl even came over to take a look and eat a few seeds along the way.
Once the seeds are off the head, we sorted through them to discard rotten or shriveled seeds and threw the good ones into a large bowl. We ended up with quite a haul from just two sunflowers!
Next we took the seeds inside and rinsed them off to remove any dirt and debris and wash away bacteria.
Then we brought the seeds to a boil in a large pot filled with salt water and let simmer for 10 minutes. Here is the seed/water/salt ratio we used: 1 cup of seeds to 4 cups of water to 2 1/2 tablespoons of salt. We had 5 cups of seeds so we used 20 cups of water and 12 1/2 tablespoons of salt. The salt water gives them their nice salty taste.
Once the seeds were boiled, we laid them out on a towel to dry for a few hours.
Lastly, we spread the seeds on a baking sheet. We baked the seeds at 400 degrees on the top rack for 15 minutes. Keep checking the seeds once you hit 10 minutes and remove them from the oven when they are nicely dried and roasted. Be careful not to burn them.
And that’s it! Store your seeds in a sealed container and enjoy!