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Stories and green tips related to nature, adventure, placemaking, and food systems, written by a beginning farmer/gardener and seasoned sustainability educator who loves to grow, cook, ferment, and eat local and ecologically happy food.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Homegrown, home-roasted sunflower seeds

Happy New Year! When we returned home from our holiday travels on Friday, I noticed our sunflowers were looking very droopy and sad, so we went about cutting off the large flower heads and leaving the smaller flowers to keep growing. Only after cutting the heads did I think to look up a recipe for roasting sunflower seeds, and it was then that I realized we had cut the heads off a bit too soon. I could have let the heads sit and dry out to make shelling the seeds easier, but I was eager to try making the seeds right away. I didn't see anything online saying it was dangerous to eat unripe seeds or anything, so I set to work and followed this recipe.

You can view photos of the sunflowers before we cut their heads off on my Facebook page here.

Despite not being dry or mature enough, some of the seeds in the largest sunflower head seemed viable for roasting--they were hard, round, and entirely black. Others I had been plucking from the smaller sunflower heads were purple and squishy--definitely no seed in there. So I shelled only the largest sunflower and set about sorting the viable seeds from the less viable.


I removed any that were squishy, entirely white, or otherwise didn't seem to have a seed inside. Then I followed the recipe and boiled the good ones with salt water. Soon, the water turned purple-black and all of the seeds became dyed black. If they had been entirely dried, I don't think this would've happened. I wasn't quite sure if any of them would even turn out to be good, but I kept going because I figured I had gotten this far and should experiment.

After boiling and simmering, I strained the sunflower seeds through a colander and then set them out on a baking pan. I sprinkled half of them with Cajun seasoning and the other half with salt and pepper. We were heading out for New Years Day dinner, so I let them dry while we got sushi. When we got back, I put them in the oven at 400°F for 10 minutes. Some of them seemed not quite roasted, so I set it back in for another 3-4 minutes. They looked burned, but it was hard to tell because they had all turned black in the water.


I tried a few once they cooled off, and they actually tasted pretty good! Some don't have any seeds, but a good number of them do. Some got overly roasted, others didn't roast enough. I put them in a jar and have been munching on them as a snack.

Take aways: Wait until the sunflower head has dried out on the stalk and seeds are beginning to fall out by themselves before cutting off. To avoid birds getting to the seeds first, some people recommend tying a brown bag around the sunflower head. The indicator that the seeds are ready is when they are white with black stripes.

The remaining little flowers on the sunflowers outside probably won't yield many seeds, but I will see what happens if I let them dry out enough once they begin drooping.
 These are the ones remaining once we cut off the larger heads.

 And a quick garden update:
 The nasturtiums were badly affected by the cold weather, but other plants seem to be doing well. Look at that broccoli! I set the sunflower heads out so that birds could get the remaining seeds that I might have missed.

 I moved some plants from our sideyard to the back of the house because the rickety old desk on the side is leaning badly and will have to go soon. This little pine tree was our Christmas tree all throughout December.

This coming Thursday, Green Guy and I both have the day off, and it is going to be our first beer brewing day! Photos and stories to follow!

Thanks for reading,
Green Gal

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