Appalachian Food

Roasting Sunflower Seeds

How to roast sunflower seeds

It’s been a few years since we grew sunflowers but I hope to remedy that next summer. One of The Deer Hunter’s Friends, who lives in Wehutty down close to the TN line, grows dandy sunflowers and this year he gave us several of the giant flowers.

How to harvest sunflowers

I tried to share the flowers with the chickens, but they didn’t seem too impressed. One cool afternoon, I set on the front porch and harvested sunflower seeds from the rest of the flower heads. I let the seeds continue to dry for a week or so spread out on a baking pan.

Now to roast the seeds. A quick google offered many different instructions for roasting fresh sunflower seeds. Most sites suggested soaking the seeds overnight in salt water. I was after immediate gratification so I went with this recipe.

Cooking sunflower seeds

I had 3 cups of sunflower seeds so I tripled the recipe. I placed the seeds and 6 tablespoons salt into a pot of about 3 quarts of water; brought the mixture to a simmer and let it simmer for about 20 minutes.

Easy way to roast sunflower seeds

Next I drained the seeds and spread them out on a baking sheet which I had coated with a very small amount of olive oil; I roasted the seeds @ 400 degrees. The recipe said to roast them for 15 to 20 minutes, but mine took longer than that. Since the seeds are wet they sort of steam in the beginning of the roasting process. I stirred the seeds around every once in a while to help the water evaporate. Once the water was mostly gone I had to keep a very close eye on the seeds to keep them from burning.

Roasting sunflower seeds that you grew from flowers

The roasted sunflower seeds were very tasty. They had a much richer nuttier taste than store bought ones. The process of harvesting the seeds and then roasting them took some time. But knowing The Deer Hunter’s friend grew them, I roasted them, and we all ate them gave me a good feeling.


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  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    November 24, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    We grew sunflowers often growing up. Our Grandmother once had one accidentally grow taller than her one story house. We don’t know how the seed got there to grow. Must’ve been from a bird or squirrel perhaps. LOL
    When harvesting, we’d lay them all out singly on top of the picnic table in the sun and let them dry for a bit. Then we’d put them, one-by-one in a box, and we’d peel them out of the flower in the box.
    We never roasted or salted them, just ate them raw like that, and I still prefer to eat them like that nowadays, although unsalted is very hard to find.
    We’ve tried to grow them here in the sandhills a time or two, but it’s just too windy and they generally get knocked over long before they grow much. Darn it! LOL
    God bless.

  • Reply
    October 16, 2013 at 8:33 am

    i don’t know what i was thinking but i grow these every year with huge heads and this idea never came to me. for sure i will be doing this now. sometimes i’m a little slow, lol. kay

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    October 15, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    Do you grow your own popcorn? What about the colorful Indian Corn? I love those mini-years of the colorful corn that is usually seen at craft shows this time of year!
    Mom had three of the large colored ears, tied with a dried leaf hanging on the wall of her porch. When we took some of the things off the porch. I really wanted that corh. I remember her buying it at an ourdoor Fall festival somewhere years ago. She just loved the look of that corn in the Fall especially. Did you know with all the squirrels, birds and I am sure mice that visited her birdfeeders on that porch, not a kernal of that corn was missing. I thought that very strange indeed! If I had taken it home for my front door decoration, I am sure the varmits would have eaten it forthwith!
    She must have had a power on those three ears of corn. Three is a very powerful number anyway!
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 15, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Bradley needs to check this out

  • Reply
    October 15, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    Some critter usually eats my Sun Flower plants as they begin to grown. Therefore, I have never had good luck growing the plants. However, I now salivate after reading your post and I am sad that I have never been able to grow the flowers. Have no fear, next year I will plant and place a net over the plants. I am sending the recipe to a friend.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    October 15, 2013 at 11:45 am

    One time I planted some Sunflowers
    at the beginning of each row in my
    garden. By late July those things
    got as high as my Hickory Cane Corn.
    And when we cut ’em down my youngest
    granddaughter took several back to
    Raleigh with her to feed her wild
    birds. She was amazed at those 7″
    clusters of seeds. Birds love ’em!

  • Reply
    October 15, 2013 at 10:08 am

    Love roasted sunflower seeds; but while pregnant I craved “pepitas” – roasted pumpkin seeds! – you don’t have to shell these – just separate them from the pumpkin pulp and strings before roasting.

  • Reply
    B R Stines
    October 15, 2013 at 10:06 am

    I’ll bet picking out the sunflower seeds was more fun than picking seeds out of pumpkin slime.
    Q: From what does one consume his ales and lagers?
    A: B R Stines

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    October 15, 2013 at 9:29 am

    The sunflower seeds look great. If I am driving on a long trip, I take sunflower seeds along with me. Popping them into my mouth and trying to get the nut out of the shell with my teeth keeps me from getting bored…

  • Reply
    October 15, 2013 at 9:07 am

    I am wild about sunflower seeds. Some of the guys I used to work with could fill their mouths with those seeds and crack them. The part that always took my time was they could separate the hulls from the seeds, spit the hulls out and keep the seeds. Never mastered that. Can’t look at a sunflower without thinking of a Van Gogh painting. LOL

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    October 15, 2013 at 9:07 am

    I love sunflower seeds. We like them on salads or just out of the bag. We used to buy them in the shell, but we got lazy and buy them in dollar store packages roasted out of the shell. It usually doesn’t take long for us to look at a bag of them either!
    I planted some Sunflowers this year in a raised bed in front of the chicken house fence. I joyfully watched them grow, grow and grow. They reached over 13ft tall and bloomed. I was disappointed that the flowers weren’t giants as well. They were still very pretty. When they finally started fading, I thought I would just let them start drying on the stalk..The rain had played havoc on them by this time…when they dried out again the birds beat me too them…LOL
    I do have a lot of bird friends that will look forward to next years small crop!
    Thanks Tipper,
    Your seeds look great! I love roasted punkin seeds too….Almost time for those!
    PS…Does Ken make a itty bitty nutcracker for those sunflower seeds?…My toothies are getting old with old arther in the jaw too! LOL

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    October 15, 2013 at 8:50 am

    Love salted & roasted Sunflower seeds. When I was younger and able to play softball most of us played with a jaw full of seeds which we hulled with our teeth keeping our energy up.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    October 15, 2013 at 8:27 am

    Several years ago Grover and I “went west” with one intention being to visit some cousins who lived in Colorado that I had not seen in years. Although the cousins were retired from farming, some of their large fields were still planted in sunflower seeds and the crop was good that year, ready to be gathered when wwe were there. My cousin had a wonderful recipe for roasting sunflower seeds. I think she went with the long-soak prior to roasting. Anyway, the end results were excellent. But I remember how strange to my eyes to see a very large field planted in sunflowers, their heavy heads bowing from the load to be harvested. I remember Grace asking, “Do you grow sunflowers?” At that time, we didn’t, but the next year we tried a few hills to good effect, even in the mountains of North Georgia, so unlike the broad sunny expanse of fields we saw in Colorado. Thanks for the memory! You made me hungry for freshly-roasted sunflower seeds!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 15, 2013 at 7:44 am

    Those look mighty good, but Tipper, they’re a lot of trouble. LOL Oh well, most of the things I like are a lot of trouble and I’m sure you are correct when you say they are much better than the ones we buy. You know, most of the food we buy is old by the time we get it at the store.
    One of our major grocery store chains just built a storage building near me. It’s one of those distribution centers. The food in brought in there then distributed to the stores in this chain. The building is one mile long and I’m not sure how deep it is. That is a big building! Sometimes I look at and wonder just how old and chemically preserved the food we buy is.
    I bet they have some sunflower seeds in there and I bet they don’t taste near as good as your fresh ones.

  • Reply
    October 15, 2013 at 7:22 am

    Tipper, I admire you for making time for harvesting sunflowers and all the other time consuming projects. Sunflowers seem to grow very well no matter the weather. You have brought out something deep inside me that would have died if you had not been such a good role model each morn. I sit here with my coffee listening to Paul sing “Way Back in the Hills”, and I realize how important it is to keep Appalachian history and customs alive. I cannot remember when I have seen a young person sit on the front porch strumming a guitar. It used to be common. I fear the love of the customs is dying in my neck of the woods!
    It would be such an empty life if we no longer had our whittlers, strummers, and our soulful songs. Keep up the good work, as there are those who learning from you.

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