If you grow your own sunflowers, the flowers will tell you when they are ready. They'll be droopy, and the petals around the center will be dried. The seeds should be clearly visible.
The best seeds for eating come from the larger varieties of sunflowers.
Just cut away the flower head from the stalk, place the flower head on a flat surface, and rub the center to dislodge the seeds from the flower. If squirrels and birds can get to these seeds, so can you!
These directions are for salted, roasted sunflower seeds. If you don't want them salted, just rinse them off and roast them. Because they aren't soaked through with water, they'll roast much more quickly, perhaps only a few minutes at 400°F.
- 1 cup raw in-shell sunflower seeds
- 2 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt, or 2 Tbsp table salt*
- 1 quart water
* Add more or less salt to taste, up to 1/4 cup Kosher salt for 1 quart of water.
1 Boil sunflower seeds in salted water: Place sunflower seeds, salt, and water into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
2 Spread seeds on a sheet pan on roast: Drain the water from the seeds and spread the seeds out in a single layer in a sheet pan. Place in a 400°F oven on the top rack and roast for 10 to 15 minutes.
Starting at about 10 minutes, I recommend taking a few out of the oven to test. If they are not roasted yet to your satisfaction, return them to the oven for another 2 to 5 minutes.
Keep checking every few minutes until they are dry enough and roasted to your satisfaction.
The seeds can quickly go from done (dry and easy to bite to open) to charred (browned on outside and black on the inside). So as the time gets closer, keep an eye on it.