If you grow your own sunflowers, they will tell you when the are ready. They'll be droopy, and the petaals around the center will be dried. The seeds should be visible.
Just sut away the flower from the stalk, place the flower head on a flat surface, and rub the center to dislodge the seeds from the flower. Please see below for instructions on how to harvest for feeding birds.
Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 45 minutes Yield: Makes one cup
These instructions are for salted, roasted flavored sunflower seeds. If you don't want them salted or flavored, then just rinse off and roast them. Because they aren't soaked through with water, they'll roast much more quickley, 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 to taste, up to 1/4 cup Kosher salt for 1 quart of water.
* Onion powder * Garlic Powder * Black pepper *Cayenne papper *Chipolte pepper *Chili powder *peppercorns * or any of your favorite seasonings
METHOD PREHEAT OVEN TO 400*F
1) Boil sunflower seeds in salted water: Place seeds, salt, and water into a meduim saucepan, Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.
2) Spread seeds on a sheet pan to roast: Drain the water from the seeds and spread the seeds out in a single layer in a sheet pan. Season with any of the above "to taste" seasonings. Place in a 400*F oven on the top rack and roast for 10-15 minutes.
Starting at about 10 minutes, we 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 2-5 minutes. Keep checking every few minutes until they are roasted to your satisfaction. the seeds can quickly go from done (dry and easy to bite open) to charred (browned on outside and black on inside). Keep a close eye on them.
STORAGE6-8 months in airtight container in cool, dark and dry enviornment (pantry or kitchen cabinet)
FEEDING BIRDS YOUR HARVESTED SEEDS
The easiest way to feed your homegrown sunflower seeds is to set out one of the dried sunflower heads on a tray or platform feeder and let them enjoy. You can also hang the head and stalk on fence or trellis for them to feed on. You may want to secure the larger heads with string or twine.