Harvesting Organic Sunflower Seeds

harvesting organic sunflower seeds
Sunflower seeds are so easy to grow and have so many great health benefits as a bonus to just how dang delicious they are.  Harvesting organic sunflower seeds from your backyard garden is really a pretty simple process.  It does take a little time depending on how many you have, but seriously, anyone can do this at home.

Roasting them at home meant leaving them in the hull as Sunflower Sheller’s aren’t cheap.  However, after I had completed my roasting, I read about a man who used his Kirby upright vacuum to shell his sunflower seeds.

It just so happens that I own a Kirby . . . hmmmm . . . something to consider for next year!

Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds

  • Sunflower seeds are so easy to incorporate into your diet.  You can add them to salads, add to stirfry, use in baked recipes, trail mix, granola, in homemade pesto in place of pine nuts, or all by themselves as a snack.
  • Sunflower seeds contain Vitamin E which, in turn, can interrupt the process of cholesterol turning into plaque in your arteries.  Therefore reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • That same Vitamin E also enhances anti-inflammatory response, so those of you with osteo or rheumatoid arthritis, dig in!
  • A diet with adequate amount of Vitamin E also protects against damage from UV radiation, colon, bladder and prostate cancers.
  • Selenium in sunflowers also contributes, at the cellular level, to assist in lowering cancer risks.
  • Magnesium and copper found in sunflowers promotes strong bone health.  It assists in the reduction of migraines, and can play a role in lowering blood pressure.
  • Sunflowers contain tryptophan.  Something we’ve always associated with Thanksgiving turkey known to offer a sense of calm and relaxation due to the increased production of serotonin tryptophan provides.
  • They are also a great source of fiber and help improve digestion.  Most people only get half the amount of necessary fiber in their diet.
  • Folic acid is abundant in sunflowers making it a great addition to the diet of pregnant women.

I’m sure there’s a bazillion more things I could come up with but, hopefully, I have made my case for growing your own sunflowers.

From Seeds to Flower

I planted the seeds directly into the soil and it didn’t take long for them to push their way out of the dirt.

Growing and harvesting sunflowers


Here’s what they looked like in the early stages.  I also grew green pole beans in the same spot to grow up the sunflower stalk.  It worked great actually, and reduced the amount of garden space needed.  I’m all for growing more in less space!





Growing Sunflowers



The type of sunflowers I grew were called Mongolian Giant Sunflowers.  They are organic and I purchased the seed from Seed Savers Exchange located in Decorah Iowa.




As you can see, they live up to their name.  At the time the above photo was taken, they hadn’t even developed their flowers yet and they are about 10 foot tall.

Growing and harvesting sunflowers



Eventually, they did develop their flowers and were absolutely beautiful!





Growing and harvesting sunflowers


And then this happened which means they are getting close to being ready.  Every few days, I checked to see if the seeds easily came loose from the plant.  When they did, they were ready to harvest.



Growing and harvesting sunflowers



So when it was time, I cut the flowers down and let them dry a few days in a safe place.  By that I mean where varmints and birds won’t steal your treasures.




Growing and harvesting sunflower seeds



Once you have brushed off the little yellow flowers that develop on each seed, it looks like this.  Pretty cool huh?






Just push the seeds out with your fingers.  They will fall out pretty easily.





Growing and harvesting sunflower seeds


Wash them off and drain them in a colander.





Growing and harvesting sunflower seeds


Combine 2-3 Tbsp Salt with a quart of water and pour the salt water over the seeds in a bowl making sure the seeds are all under the water.  I used a plate to hold them down just to be sure.  Then let them sit over night up to 24 hours.



Growing and harveting sunflower seeds


Drain them well and dry them off a bit with a clean towel.  Then spread them out on a cookie sheet.  I put foil down first just for easier cleanup.




Bake them at 350F for about 30 minutes.  Check a couple to see if they are roasted and dried enough.  If they still seem soft and moist put them in for another 5 minutes.  Keep checking every 5 minutes till the hull is dry and crisp.  But be careful not to over do it or you will burn the kernels inside.

Growing and harvesting sunflower seeds            Growing and harvesting sunflower seeds

And there they are!  Some people eat the hull but I prefer not to.  I just crack them open and pop them in my mouth.  There is no need to add additional salt.  The salt water that you soaked them in will make them sufficiently salty.

I store them in a jar and keep them in my pantry.  In all honesty, I love a chip just as much as the next guy, but if you’re craving a little salty something, these are so much better for you.

Roasted Organic Sunflower Seeds


  • Sunflower heads harvested from your garden
  • Salt and water in a 2 – 3Tbsp salt to 1 quart water ratio


The sunflowers are ready to harvest when the seed can easily be pushed out of the flower head.

Dry the flower heads for a few days after cutting.

Wipe off the yellow flowers from the seeds.

Push the seeds out of the flower head with your fingers and rinse under running water.

Soak in salt water solution over night up to 24 hours.

Drain and pat dry with a clean towel and spread onto a cookie sheet to roast.

Bake at 350F for 30 minutes then start checking every 5 minutes till they are dry and crisp when you crack them open.


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© 2016 – 2017, Pamela Rinell @ MyTurkey Hollow Twilight Zone. All rights reserved. On republishing you must include the link to original post


Taking control of life and learning to live a more intentional, holistic, minimalistic lifestyle from the heart of my inner 70's flower child.

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