How to Clean Sunflower Seeds

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The byproduct of a lovely thick sunflower patch is a lovely thick pile of sunflower seeds at season's end. While you may be tempted to leave them be to grown next season or to let the wildlife have them, you might want to reconsider. Not only are sunflower seeds a tasty snack, they are also rich in protein, fiber, minerals, and more. By following a few simple procedures, you can clean your own sunflower seeds.

Things You'll Need

  • Gardening shears
  • Sharp knife
  • 2 paper bags
  • Medium mesh strainer
  • Baking sheet
  • Salt

Wait until late in the season for the seeds to mature. Allow the plants to grow completely, letting the petals fall off and the back of the flower head to become dry and yellow or brown. Keep a close eye out for birds stealing the seeds from the flower heads; when they start harvesting seeds, so should you.

Cut the flower down. With a pair of gardening shears or a sharp knife, cut the head away from the sunflower stalks close to the blossom. Place the removed sunflower heads in a dry, well-ventilated area to allow them to dry out further. Store the sunflower heads in this manner for two weeks.

Remove the flower heads from storage. Hold the head directly over a paper bag and rub across the sunflower head's front with your hand, attempting to dislodge the seeds with your fingers. Repeat with all sunflower heads until all the seeds are dislodged. Close the bag top and shake the bag vigorously to shake loose any plant materials from the seeds.

Pour the seeds out onto a flat surface like a platter, tray or baking sheet. Remove any larger plant materials from among the seeds by hand. Pour the seeds into a second paper bag and repeat the shaking of the bag from the previous step. Empty the bag into a medium mesh strainer. Shake and sift the seeds in the strainer, allowing remaining plant materials to fall through the screen.

Store or roast the cleaned seeds. Store cleaned seeds dry in plastic bags or glass jars in a dark place. Roast the cleaned seeds by first soaking them overnight in a brine composed of two quarts of water and one-half cup of salt. Drain the seeds and bake on a baking sheet at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 to 40 minutes.

Tips & Warnings

  • Seeds can be eaten in or out of shell. Remove the shells of the sunflower seeds for easier eating.
  • If eating seeds with the shell on, be careful of sharp shell fragments. Spit out fragments to prevent digestive difficulties.

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