Sunflowers are extravagant and fantastic floral tributes from nature but it doesn’t stop there. The seeds from sunflowers make a versatile crop.
Sunflower Seed Description
- A seeds is produced from every floret, that is each small flower, in the centre of the sunflower.
- This creates a disc of seeds arranged in concentric circles when the petals have fallen.
- Unpollinated florets, often at the very centre of the flower, may be too immature to function as viable seeds.
- Seeds of different varieties vary in colour. Black is common as is black with a white stripe. There are brown and grey-green seeds.
- If you do not save your own seed from earlier crops you can buy seed packets, sunflower as bird food or loose sunflower seeds by weight.
Uses for Sunflower Seed
- The decorative garden properties of sunflowers are well known.
- Sunflower seeds are grown commercially and crushed to make sunflower oil. The husks are then used as animal feed.
- Sunflower seeds are a favourite food to attract birds into your garden. The seeds provide a lot of energy for garden birds. They can be pre-shelled to just feed the nutritious ‘hearts’ to the birds.
- Bread can be enhanced with a variety of seeds and sunflower loafs have an open texture and nice flavour.
- Sunflower seeds have a mild nutty taste and can be chewed raw or roasted and salted.
- ‘Nut or seed butter’ can also made from the seeds by grinding them until they produce a creamy spread.
- Add seeds or the hearts of shelled seeds to give a crunch to your salads.
- One ounce of sunflower seed kernels, dry-roasted without salt contains 5.48 grams of protein, 165 calories and 3.1 grams of dietary fiber, according to healthy alternatives.
- I have been told you can sprout sunflower seeds before eating them as a vegetable or salad crop but I have yet to try that method.
- Sunflowers can be grown by children who are then fascinated by the height some flowers can reach.
The seedhead photograph is by ‘docman’ and the sunflower seeds by visionet on flickr under creative commons license – thanks.
Growing Sunflowers for Children
Various sunflower seeds for your garden from Thompson & Morgan
Sunflower as Food
Sunflower seed bread is one of my favourite bakery products of the moment.
Sunflower Food Crops
- Plants are grown commercially and farmed to produce sunflower oil and sunflower margarine.
- Do not eat the petals but you can grow sunflowers for their seeds to bake in to bread, use about a quarter of sunflower seeds to the amount flour you use.
- Sprouted sunflower seeds are full of goodness and easy to grow. Rinse your crop of seeds throwing away any floaters and leave in a jar of cold water. The following day pour away the water and leave he jar on its side until the seeds sprout. Check regularly throwing away any bad ones and rinse away the husks. In less than a fortnight you will have sprouts for a stir fry or sandwich.
- Seeds can be used as a garnish for salads or eaten as they are.
- Use seeds as a crumble topping with oats or add to root vegetable soups.
- Grow Jerusalem artichoke part of the sunflower family and eat like potatoes
- Roasted or with salt they are low in calories but high in good oils.
- Birds love the rich sunflower seed.
- Slugs nibble the young leaves but should not be a game changer.
- Harvested plants can be fed to goats and cattle as winter fodder.