Growing and harvesting our own food is a favorite hobby of ours. I enjoy teaching my children where our food comes from while also teaching them that hard work pays off. The kids and I spent a lot of time this summer in our garden, working hard to start each of our plants from seedlings. We cared for each plant and were able to have a bountiful summer harvest.
Now that fall has taken over, I have decided to embark on a new homesteading project; harvesting sunflower seeds. Yes, this is my first summer doing this from my own garden. I actually first decided to plant the sunflowers in my garden because the kids and I love sunflowers. Their bright yellow flowers remind of me the summer sun. . and that makes me smile. But then, as a surprise to me, the sunflowers that we planted grew to be behemoths! They grew to tower well over 8ft, if not bigger. Actually, I think probably bigger because even on my tippy toes I can not reach the tallest flower heads even as they are starting to bow over. The heads of these sunflowers grew to around 12" wide. Now THAT is a lot of sunflower seeds. How could I ever decide to waste them? I couldn't. So here we are, end of September and I am hard at work collecting the seeds for snacking (and probably a few to share with my bird friends).
Harvesting sunflower seeds can be easy, however it is a bit time consuming if you are collecting them to eat. There are a few stages that you need to complete in order to make them edible. We will talk about those stages below. First, however, there are a few other reasons to collect sunflower seeds.
Reasons to collect sunflower seeds:
1) To eat - yes, you can roast these babies up and snack away.
2) To feed to birds - tired of paying top dollar for bird seed? Collect the seeds and store in an airtight container for free feed!
3) To replant your flowers next year- simply store in a dry, airtight container until spring!
So now we know WHY to harvest, but I need to know HOW to harvest.
The first thing you will want to do when preparing to harvest your sunflowers seeds is to know when the plant is ripe for harvesting. There are a few indications that you can look for when it starts to get close to the right time.
- The weather will start to cool, signaling the end of summer.
- The sunflowers will begin to bow down or slump over.
- The petals will all fall of of the flower head.
- The back of the sunflower head will turn to a dark yellow or brown color.
- The seeds will become visible behind the yellow flowers on the flower head.
Once the above signals are set, it is time to harvest your seeds.
How to Harvest Sunflower Seeds
How to Harvest Sunflower Seeds
1)The first thing you will want to do is remove the flower head from the stem. Be careful because the stem is thick and quite difficult to cut through.
2) Wearing a pair of gloves, run your hands over the yellow flowers on the flower head brushing them off.
3) Begin to rub your hands over the seeds allowing them to fall into a bucket for safekeeping.
4) Remove any flower debris from the bucket and fill with a mixture of salt and water.
5) Soak overnight.
6) The next day, rinse the seeds to clean and lay out on a clean towel to dry.
7) Once dry, place the seeds on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil and salt for taste. Bake at 300 degrees for about 30-40 minutes.
8) Crack open those babies and enjoy!
Need to see it to believe it? I made a video :)
Have you ever harvested your own sunflower seeds or are you a newbie too? Share your stories with us!
<3 Dick and Jane