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When and How to Harvest Sunflower Seeds

Sunflowers are a favorite for kids of all ages. Not only are they fun to grow theyre also great to eat that is - if you can beat the birds and squirrels to the seeds.

Protect your harvest from these critters by covering the flowers with a paper bag, cheesecloth or season extending fabric as the seeds begin to form.

The seeds are ripe and ready to harvest when the back of the flower head is banana yellow or brown and most of the yellow petals are dry.

This is also when you can easily rub the fluffy covering off the plump seeds that have developed their characteristic gray stripes.

You can eat them fresh or hang the harvested flowerheads upside down in a warm dry place to dry. Remove the seeds by rubbing your hand over the face of the flower.

Store seeds in a cool dry place. Shelled sunflower seeds can last several months or longer if placed in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.

A bit more information: Roast a few of the sunflowers to make a special treat. Remove the seeds from the shell and place a single layer of the raw seed kernels in a shallow pan. Roast the seeds in a 300 º oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until the seeds are crisp and brown. Stir occasionally to prevent scorching. Remove from the oven and add a teaspoon of melted margarine per cup of seeds if desired. Stir to coat and place on a piece of absorbent paper. Salt to taste.

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