Harvesting Sunflower Seeds

Harvesting SunflowersCaden’s sunflower seeds were ready to harvest, so I had his mom and dad (my son) bring him over to cut the heads off the stalks.  The sunflower plants were more than twice his size, so he cut the stalk in half first, then cut the stalk closer to the head of the actual sunflower.  We set them in an open paper bag outside to finish drying.  Harvesting Sunflowers

I also cut down the four sunflowers that I had growing.  The largest head turned out to be 15″ across!  These were the Mammoth Sunflower Seeds I was given for free from Barra Vineyards in Mendocino County.  I can still taste their Moscato ……..mmmmmmmm

Anyway, I also put these sunflowers in a paper bag to dry a few more days.  From what I have read, it is very important to thoroughly dry the sunflower heads by keeping them in a warm, dry place (outside in an open paper bag), turning them over once or twice a day, until the seeds start to fall out by themselves. The last thing you want is for the seed heads to start molding!Harvesting sunflower seeds

Once I could tell the seeds were dry, I sat in front of the TV one evening and literally rubbed over the seeds with the palm of my hand and they just fell out of the seed head. It was this easy because once the seeds are dry they shrink just a little and the head releases them.  I did have to pick out just a few, but not many.  The seeds were all placed in a colander so they could dry on the kitchen counter just a bit more for a couple of days, giving the seeds a quick stir every time I passed by.  I left the center of each head intact because those seeds were pretty small, and I figured the birds would benefit from them more than I would, so I gave them to Caden to place on the bird feeder in his backyard.

Soaking sunflower seeds

I had to put a pie plate over the seeds soaking in the salt water so the seeds would stay submerged.

I tasted a couple of the seeds and they were pretty good raw, but I decided to roast them with some salt because that is the way my dear hubby likes them.  I found some simple directions on the National Sunflower Association‘s website on how to salt and roast the seeds.  I soaked the seeds overnight in two quarts of water with 1/2 cup of sea salt, as directed, then roasted them at 300 degrees for about 30 minutes the next day.

We had a lot of seeds and I didn’t want them to go bad before we could eat them all, so I decided the best thing I could do with all those seeds was to share them!  I thought it might be fun for Caden to give away two bags of the roasted, salted seeds – one to Ms. Stewart, his 1st Grade Teacher last year, and the other to his dad for his birthday. It was in Ms. Stewart’s class that Caden first planted his sunflower seeds, that we later transplanted into my garden.  You can see those poor, sun starved seedlings HERE.  Those spindly plants survived thrived in my backyard garden, growing two decent sized seed heads!   Harvesting and Processing Sunflower Seeds

To present the seeds, I thought it would be fun to make a label that could then be attached onto the front of a closable sandwich baggie.  I used the computer to print “Caden’s Sunflower Seeds”  and underneath “Roasted and Salted” (see below), overlaying his picture, essentially making a custom label!  The label was printed on paper that is sticky on one side.  All Caden had to do was to stick the label onto the sandwich baggie and then fill the baggie with the roasted and salted sunflower seeds.  This was a fun way to finalize his experience growing sunflower seeds.  I think Caden is proud of his final product and I hope Ms. Stewart likes her gift!  I know his dad will.Harvesting and Preparing Sunflower seeds

Hmmmmm…… This was a such a fun project for me and my grandson, perhaps we can do something similar with pumpkin seeds next month!



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32 thoughts on “Harvesting Sunflower Seeds

  1. I love doing stuff like this with my kids! I didn’t plant any sunflowers this year, but I think I’m going to have to next year so we can harvest the seeds 🙂 I’ve pinned your post so I can remember. Thank you for sharing!

    I found your post through Friendship Friday.

    • Thank you Missy! I think I am going to do something similar with the pumpkin seeds we harvest from the grandkid’s jack-o-lantern. When they are able to help with the brining, baking and packaging (especially when their picture is on the label) it gives them such a feeling of accomplishment!

      I checked out your blog and I must say it is very educational and fun! I remember those years when my kids didn’t wear pants all summer, then when it was back to school time I realized how much they had grown by the sudden “appearance” of their ankles! Hahaha! Of course, we wouldn’t want it any other way!

    • Thank you for the invite, Joyce! Done! After hopping in, I read some of your blog and love it! I really like lemongrass – both taste and smell – so that article really caught my eye! Again, thanks!

  2. Hi, I found you from the Pinworthy Projects link up. It sounds like we live life in similar ways! Hubby and I hunt, fish, garden and gather. Last night’s dinner were garden peppers stuffed with deer he hunted. We love being self sufficient. I have yet to grow sunflower seeds but I’d really like to.

    • Oh Steph, you really should try growing sunflowers! They didn’t really take any tending – just watering! So easy! I couldn’t believe how big they got even though I really neglected them. My hubby has caught 5 salmon this season so far! Maybe we could swap some salmon for that deer meat! 😀 Thank you for taking the time to comment! I’m hopping on over to your blog now.

      • My son would love it. He’s almost 8 and enjoys everything we get from the garden, or rather TRIES it, not necessarily always enjoys it, ha. He’d have a lot of fun with this. Where did you get your seeds? I assume there are varieties that stay small and varieties that get big like this. Salmon! Oh my, we love salmon! Around here though, it’s mostly good old catfish 🙂 And bull frogs too.

        • We got the seeds from the Barra Winery last year as a free gift for trying their wine. I know – win/win 😉 Anyway, they are “Mammoth Grey Stripe”. They are massive!

    • Honestly, I didn’t know they could get so big. I didn’t fertilize them, weed around them or take care of them any any real way! At first Caden’s sunflower seeds got bent over by a nasty north wind. But our climbing jasmine, which was planted right behind the sunflowers, clamped their tendrils around the sunflower stalks and literally held them up for me! These plants were awesome! I hope you try it and post pictures on your blog!

    • Your husband is right – you should try this. Plant the seeds in the spring, reap the benefits in the fall! They are really delicious! Thanks for stopping by! BTW – I’m not really a prepper, but I like to be prepared, and the list on your blog is spot on! Thanks.

  3. This post is SO timely for me! I was just speaking with my husband about how in the world to do this. Sunflowers are such a statement piece in a garden but we want them to be productive as well as beautiful, thank you!

    • You are so welcome, Lily! When we were ready to cut down the four sunflower plants that I grew (not Caden’s) I couldn’t believe how tall they were! The stalks were as thick as trees and the flower heads were giant! I am definitely going to grow more sunflowers. They were so easy, the bees and bumblebees loved them, and they are so lovely swaying in the breeze! I hear you can make a sunbutter (instead of peanut butter) out of them, and I think I will try this next year. Thanks for your thoughts!

    • Caden and I both had a lot of fun with this. I can’t wait for him to give his present to his father! I think it is important to teach young children the spirit of giving – especially when it doesn’t have to do with a lot of money, but instead giving with the heart! Thank you for your kind words!

  4. This was interesting as I was recently wondering about drying / harvesting seeds. I grew a fair amount of sunflowers this summer though the goldfinches have enjoyed them so much that I never DID cut any to dry or roast for us humans …I will have to make a mental note to do that next year because I think this would be fun to do with my grandlittles too! 🙂 As for now the goldfinches have their way…while the blooms are just about spent and only a few flowers with petals left the finches are still feasting…next year I’ll cut a few for US 🙂

    • Yes, this is a natural food for many birds. That’s why I let Caden have the center of the flower heads where the seeds were small and a little underdeveloped, and he put them on their backyard bird feeder. Now everybody is happy!

  5. Amara and I have had a lot of fun growing sunflowers together over the years. Just last week we took some of those seeds to feed the ducks only to find the park closed. We decided we want to grow them again next year! Just stopping by from the GRAND Social Linky Party. Hope you get a chance to do the same!

    • Isn’t it amazing how fast and tall they grow! It’s too bad that your park was closed for repairs – hopefully it will be open again better than ever! Have a great week!

  6. I am so glad to find out how to do this. Sometimes our yard man cuts them down and takes them away before I can get to them. Gotta find a way to stop that. Thanks for sharing.

  7. My little boy has been asking me all about this for weeks on end driving me nuts LOL I will have to share this with him. Thanks! I’d love for you to come link up on my blog with this too. cass-eats.blogspot.com

    • Thanks for the invite – will do! Kids love this sort of thing. If you don’t want to roast and salt them for a people snack, they could always be packaged as “bird feed”!

    • Yes, I was happy to give the birds their share 🙂 I am going to grow more next year since they were so easy! Thanks for stopping by!