As the sunflowers in our Maynards Organic Garden & Grove reached the end of their lifecycle, we turned to Gardener Robert Vincent for a sunflower seed harvesting tutorial. If you have sunflowers in your garden, use these steps to harvest and roast your own sunflower seeds!
Sunflower seed harvesting
Prepare for drying process. Your sunflower is ready to be prepared for drying when it begins to wilt, the back of the flower head turns brown, and very few petals remain.
Cover & cut the sunflower. Cover the flower with a paper bag or other breathable fabric (not plastic!) to protect the seeds from falling. Then cut the stalk about one foot below the flower head with the bag still secured.
Dry the sunflower. Turn the bag upside down, and hang it by the stem in a warm, dry place. About 3-4 days.
Check the sunflower every day. Shake it to loosen seeds. Collect any seeds that have fallen and store in an airtight container. Feel the sunflower for dryness. Seeds are ready for collection when the back of the sunflower head is dark brown and very dry.
Collect the seeds. Remove the sunflower from the bag and onto a clean, flat workspace. Rub your hand briskly over the seeded area.
Rinse the seeds. Transfer the seeds to a colander and rinse them thoroughly with cold running water. Allow to dry in the colander for 10 to 15 minutes.
Dry the seeds. Spread seeds in single layer over thick towel or several layers of paper towel. Remove any debris and damaged seeds. Allow to dry at room temperature for several hours or overnight. Seeds must be dried completely
Salt & roast. Soak seeds overnight in 2 quarts of water with 1/4-1/2 cup salt. Drain the seeds on paper towel. Spread seeds in single layer on baking sheet. Roast in oven at 300 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown, and stir occasionally as they roast. Let cool completely.
Store the seeds. Store seeds in airtight container in refrigerator or freezer. These can be kept for several weeks.