Grayson planted lots of sunflowers this year. We just harvested the seeds out of one of the flower heads. We dehydrated them and we’have them in a bowl on the counter for everybody to munch on.
There are many varieties of sunflower (Helianthus annuus). We thought we had a favorite but we’ve decided that we love them all.
Did you know that the faces of most sunflowers turn to the sun and follow it during the course of the day from east to west? At night they return toward the east direction. It’s called heliotropism. There is a flexible segment of the stem that is just below the bud. When the bud stage comes to an end, the stem stiffens and the flower blooms. When they bloom they lose their heliotrophic activity and freeze in an eastward orientation. Isn’t that amazing?
Sunflowers need full sun to grow and are easy to grow. Some varieties grow to heights of 12 feet. There is a report of one growing to 26 feet in Northern Italy. After the Chernobyl radiation disaster, sunflowers were planted to extract uranium, cesium 137, and strontium from the soil. They are also planted to remove lead and arsenic from soil.
Sunflowers should not be planted in the same place each year as this helps to control problems with pests and diseases.
The sunflower seeds are mature and ready to be picked when the backs of the heads are yellow. The sunflower head takes a long time to dry… patience. They can spoil easily in warm weather. The seeds will have black and white stripes and are easily picked out when they are ready to harvest.
We soaked our seeds in water and salt for a few hours and then dehydrated them in our dehydrator. I left them in the dehydrator overnight at 105 degrees. They are best stored in the refrigerator. If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can place them in the oven on a cookie sheet and roast them for about 4 hours at 150 degrees. I recommend getting a dehydrator if you don’t have one. They are inexpensive at Wal-mart and Amazon. They use a very minimal amount of electricity and you can make some of the yummiest food ever in them. I have never used mine to make beef jerky, although many people do.
Do you have to soak the seeds first? Nuts and seeds contain enzyme inhibitors. When they are soaked, it releases the toxic inhibitors and removes bitter flavors. It is important to discard the water after soaking nuts or seeds and rinse them well. We have all eaten plenty of nuts and seeds that haven’t been soaked and that’s okay, but they are more digestible and taste better when they have been soaked and dehydrated. If you were going to make a spread with the sunflower seeds, they could just be soaked (skip the dehydrating) and easily blended.
Sunflower seeds are high in potassium, calcium, and phosphorus. They contain 24% protein, 20% carbohydrates, and 40% fat. They also contain zinc, magnesium, and vitamin E. The shells are also edible and high in fiber.
Come grow with us!