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How to Roast Sunflower Seeds
Grow Your Own Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower Seeds Benefits
Sunflower seeds contain many antioxidants and nutrients, are low in sugar content, and provide fiber, protein, and healthy fats. What are the health benefits one can gain from eating sunflower seeds?
- Improved cell repair due to the presence of selenium, which aids in DNA repair for damaged cells.
- Lowered blood pressure. Sunflower seeds contain magnesium, which is beneficial to muscle function and bone health.
- Reduced cholesterol, as the phytosterols in the seeds has been proven to lower cholesterol levels naturally. Sunflower seeds have the highest concentration of phytosterols of any nut or seed eaten in the United States.
- Less inflammation, as the seeds contain a high level of Vitamin E. This may result in improved cardiovascular health and a reduction in arthritis symptoms.
How to Plant Sunflower Seeds
- Purchase a packet of sunflower seeds. A good variety for producing large amounts of seeds is the Mammoth Sunflower. This flower produces a massive seed-head and will provide many high-quality seeds at harvest time.
- After the date of the last frost, plant the sunflower seed outdoors. Select a location in full sun, and plant the seed 1" - 3" deep in garden soil. Do not plant the sunflower seeds in heavy clay or sand: use compost or soil amendments to improve the quality of the soil. Alternatively, start the seeds indoors using peat pots or homemade seedling pots.
- Space the seeds of giant sunflowers about 3' apart. If more than one row is planted, ensure the rows are at least 4' apart. Follow the directions on the back of the seed packet for instructions specific to the variety being planted.
- Water the seeds regularly and protect the seedling from garden pests.
- When the flower begins to produce mature seeds, it may be necessary to protect the flower from birds. Place loose netting around the sunflower head until all the seeds are mature and the flower is ready for harvest.
Russian Mammoth Sunflower Seeds
Russian Mammoth sunflowers grow over 10 feet tall and produce a large amount of quality seeds.
Sunflower Seed Varieties
There are many sunflower varieties, and not all sunflowers produce edible seeds. Birds prefer the black "oil" sunflower seeds, so choose a variety that produces black and white striped seeds to prevent hungry birds from devouring the entire crop. The following varieties reliably produce a large quantity of edible seeds:
- Russian Giant will produce seed heads nearly two feet across on flowers over 10 feet tall.
- Giant Grey Stripe grows 6' - 8' tall and is an heirloom sunflower variety.
- Paul Bunyan is another tall sunflower that produces edible seeds.
- Mammoth Russian is one of the oldest cultivars of giant sunflowers: the seeds have been sold for over 130 years.
- Kong grows up to 12 feet tall and is an impressive addition to the garden.
How to Harvest Sunflower SeedsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Harvesting the Seeds
When are the seeds mature and ready to harvest? The sunflower's petals will turn brown and whither away. The back of the sunflower will often turn brown and the seeds will be plump. Thin shells will not contain a seed inside - the seeds should appear rounded and feel firm when pressed between a thumb and finger. Shells that collapse indicate an immature seed or an empty shell.
Cut the flower head off of the plant and rub off any blossom ends that remain on the seeds. Using your hand and fingers, rub the seeds off the flower head. Start from the outer edge and work in toward the center, loosening seeds as you go. Place the loose seeds into a bowl or colander, removing any immature or empty shells as you go.
Roasting Sunflower SeedsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Salting and Roasting the Seeds
Once the seeds have been harvested, place the seeds into 2 quarts of water (equivalent to 8 cups of water). Add 1/2 cup of salt to the solution and allow the seeds to soak overnight, or for 8 hours.
When the seeds have finished soaking, drain off the water and place the seeds into a baking dish or roasting pan. Preheat the oven to 300°F (149°C, or Gas Mark 2). Roast the seeds for 30 minutes to 2 hours, until they are golden brown. If the seeds are dry prior to roasting, the shorter time frame will be needed. If the seeds are still wet from soaking, the longer end of the time frame will be required.
Remove from the oven, allow the seeds to cool, and store them in an airtight container. Some recipes call for the use of melted butter on the roasted seeds: take note that this dramatically reduces the shelf life of the roasted seeds and they will have to be eaten quickly if butter is used. If no butter is used in the preparation of the seeds, they have a very long shelf life (up to a year if the seeds are dry roasted and salted, with no oil or butter added).
Dry Roasted Sunflower Seed Nutrition
|Serving size: 1 ounce|
|Calories from Fat||126|
|% Daily Value *|
|Fat 14 g||22%|
|Saturated fat 2 g||10%|
|Unsaturated fat 12 g|
|Carbohydrates 7 g||2%|
|Sugar 1 g|
|Fiber 3 g||12%|
|Protein 5 g||10%|
|Cholesterol 0 mg|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.|