7 Mistakes to AVOID when Harvesting and Roasting Sunflower Seeds

Glorious Sunflowers

Sunflower growing in the garden.
Sunflower growing in the garden. | Source
Another sunflower earlier in its growth cycle.
Another sunflower earlier in its growth cycle. | Source

Haste makes a mess of things

Horrors! This is the fully illustrated NOT-TO-DO guide for a neophyte’s foray into sunflower food production. Whether for birds or humans, you want seeds which look like the ones you formerly purchased at the grocery or the feed store. Now that you are a sunflower gardener, do not be impatient or cut corners. Here is what may happen….

For seed harvesting, don't cut this one

Large, tall sunflower.
Large, tall sunflower. | Source

Mistake Number One

It is too early to cut this flower head. The petals are still gloriously waving like a corona around the flower. Wait until almost all fall off.

Don't cut this one either

Oops.  It looks like someone cut this flower.
Oops. It looks like someone cut this flower. | Source

Gardening the Native American Way

Mistake Number Two

This one is still too early to cut, kind of… The general wisdom is that the back of the flower’s seed disk (called the calyx?) should be all yellow-brown and drying out. The lovely and lively green as illustrated means the seeds are not mature, meaning not tasty and good for eating.

Not ready either

Observe the single seed pulled out to show that its shell is all white.
Observe the single seed pulled out to show that its shell is all white. | Source

Mistake Number Three

Picking a sunflower with totally white colored seeds rather than black stripes on white means the seeds are not mature.

***the KIND OF CAVEAT***


I will cut my seed heads a little on the early side because the birds in my neighborhood organize themselves marvelously, with 24/7 surveillance on the progress of the seed maturation. If I wait until the back of the flower is the proper shade of drying out, there will be NO seeds left on the reverse side. Yes, one can cover up the flower head with a cheesecloth or paper bag to prevent fly-by avian diners from taking the seeds before the human gardeners get them. But, I do not want to be bothered. So, maybe that should be illustrated step number 4.

Mistake Number Four

No bags over flower heads.

All that nurturing down the drain

Piling all the flower heads in a bucket can lead to insufficient drying.
Piling all the flower heads in a bucket can lead to insufficient drying. | Source
Yes - this seed head is covered with mold.  We wanted sunflower seeds, not penicillin.
Yes - this seed head is covered with mold. We wanted sunflower seeds, not penicillin. | Source

Mistake Number Five

Flower heads piled on top of each other to dry inside the garage, basement or house prevent moisture from evaporating. Then all the flowers can become moldy. EEyuck!

Wrong food

We wanted sunflower kernel - a distinct nut - not white potato innards.
We wanted sunflower kernel - a distinct nut - not white potato innards. | Source

Mistake Number Six

If you are shelling the sunflower seeds before you roast them (which is an acceptable way to prepare them), trying to do it before the seeds are dry enough is another mistake. The insides are like squishy white potato.

Too Hot

Very hot oven!
Very hot oven! | Source

Mistake Number Seven

Cooking on too high a temperature. Whether you are roasting shelled or unshelled seeds, the common wisdom is to cook them at 300 degrees F for 30 to 40 minutes.

Video of all the right things to do


A YouTube which does harvesting the right way: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oumO0BIy7Z4

Maybe I Should Switch to Sunflower Cookies

Sunflower Cookie and Fondant Cutter - Ann Clark - 3.5 Inches - US Tin Plated Steel
Sunflower Cookie and Fondant Cutter - Ann Clark - 3.5 Inches - US Tin Plated Steel

I'm a little better at cookies which LOOK like a sunflower.

 

Pictures worth thousands of warning words

I hope these photos frightened you enough to convince you follow all the wisdom contained in blogs on how to correctly harvest and roast sunflower seeds. After bestowing all the love a gardener pours into a crop of flowers, you deserve the bounty of seeds either for yourself or your bird friends. When you learn the specifics of sunflower harvesting, you will never need to see images like these in your own yard.

Bon appetit!

Photos and text copyright 2011 Maren E. Morgan

More by this Author


Comments 6 comments

The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 5 years ago from Maryland

Your photos are gorgeous!


Maren Morgan M-T profile image

Maren Morgan M-T 5 years ago from Pennsylvania Author

Thanks, Dirt Farmer! It is fun to snap pix of flowers and all things garden!


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

Great pictures and great advice. I feel I can do it correctly now.


Maren Morgan M-T profile image

Maren Morgan M-T 5 years ago from Pennsylvania Author

Great, KoffeKlatch Gals! Isn't research in the era of the Internet fantastic?


Keri Summers profile image

Keri Summers 4 years ago from West of England

This made me laugh! At least you got a great hub out of your sunflower disasters - and we can all learn from your mistakes. This is exactly the kind of thing I would have done. Now I know better!


Maren Morgan M-T profile image

Maren Morgan M-T 4 years ago from Pennsylvania Author

Keri, yes - I made enough silly mistakes that I was able to write a hub about it. It's a little embarrassing, but hopefully it will save others from a wasted growing season.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working