Sunflowers are fairly easy to grow and add color to your garden. What's more, certain varieties produce an edible seed at the end of the growing season. Packed with protein and vitamin E, sunflower seeds are a tasty, low-carb snack. Shell just-picked or store-bought sunflower seeds and eat them raw, or roast them in their shells for extra flavor.
Things You'll Need
Cheesecloth or ventilated paper bag
Cookie sheet or shallow pan
Oven mitts or pot holders
After at least three months of growth, remove the heads from sunflower plants after the stalks become dry and the heads droop. Hang the sunflower heads by their stalks in a warm, dry spot and cover the heads with cheesecloth or a ventilated paper bag to catch the falling seeds. Wait three to four weeks for all of the seeds to fall, rubbing the heads manually to remove any remaining seeds.
Rinse the sunflower seeds in a strainer and place them in a large bowl. For salted sunflower seeds, mix 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of salt in 2 quarts of water. Cover the seeds with the salted water and soak them overnight. Skip the salting process if you prefer unsalted seeds or follow a salt-restricted diet.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
Drain the salt-soaked seeds and pat them dry with paper towels.
Spread the seeds evenly on a cookie sheet or shallow pan.
Bake the sunflower seeds in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Stir the seeds with a wooden spoon occasionally while roasting to prevent them from burning or sticking to the cookie sheet.
Remove the sunflower seeds from the oven when they are golden brown and some have a split down the middle.
Allow the seeds to cool to room temperature before eating or storing. Store any uneaten seeds in an airtight container.
Grow a sunflower variety that produces large, edible seeds. The Burpee seed company recommends planting Mammoth, Aztec Gold or Paul Bunyan Hybrid varieties. Follow the package directions for planting and care of your sunflowers.
If you prefer roasting your sunflower seeds unshelled, line the cookie sheet with parchment paper before spreading the seeds on it.
Pan-roast shelled or unshelled sunflower seeds on your stovetop in a frying pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat until the shells pop open.
Use oven mitts or pot holders to remove the cookie sheet from the oven.