Sunflowers are a staple in most home gardens and diversified farms also find value in growing them. And they are more than just for the birds (and squirrels!). Sunflower kernels are an extremely nutritious food. They are full of Phosphorus, Selenium, Folate, Vitamin E, Pantothenic Acid, and protein.
There are several sunflower varieties that produce giant flower heads that are a marvel to watch grow. Just one head can supply up to a quart (or more) of edible seeds. With a little drying or roasting, you easily store these away like a little squirrel for winter.
Some of the most popular varieties of sunflowers to grow include Mammoth Russian, Mammoth Grey, American Giant, New Jersey Giant (shorter stalks), Sunzilla, Giant White-Seeded, and Titan. These all produce nice fat seeds that are perfect for eating.
You don’t have to roast the seeds before eating, in fact the kernels are more nutritious when eaten raw. To store though, the seeds must be dry. Just spread them out on a cookie sheet or tray to dry for a few days.
Roasting the seeds will change the flavor slightly, decrease their nutritional value, but allow you add flavors and salt. They will also be completely dried, so easier to store. For salty, ball park style roasted seeds, soak them in salt water (1/4 cup for every 2 quarts of water) overnight. Then spread them evenly out on a cookie sheet and place them in the oven on 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 3 hours.
Soaking, then using a dehydrator to dry them is another option great for sunflower seeds. This may be the most nutritious way of preparing them. You are in fact “activating” them, or starting the germination process then drying them slowly, over 12 hours in the case of sunflower seeds. Soak the seeds in water with 2 tsp of salt, overnight. Spread them out in your dehydrator at a medium setting, or one for nuts/seeds for 12 hours.
To find nutritious food grown by the people in your neighborhood, check out Pick-A-Pepper.com!
Photo Credit and more info on growing big sunflowers.
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