Harvesting your sunflower seeds can sometimes be to a bit of a challenge: the birds against the gardener. The trick to winning this contest is to get to the flower head and cover it before the seeds are fully ripe. The seeds are then all yours and you can relax and look forward to munching on fresh sunflower seeds all year long. When the seeds have turned gray or black-striped, it is time to harvest.
Cut the flower head, with 10 inches of stem, from the plant.
Wrap the cheesecloth loosely around the head of the flower and secure it. This will keep the seeds from falling to the floor.
Hang the flower in a cool, dry place and allow it to dry completely. You will know it is ready when the seeds begin to fall from the flower.
Rub the seeds out of the flower head and pick out any pieces of flower or stem.
Mix 1 quart of water and 1/4 cup of sea salt in a bowl. Place the seeds in the bowl and soak them overnight.
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees F. Drain the seeds well and then lay them in a single layer in a shallow baking sheet. Roast them in the oven for three to four hours. They need to be completely dry before canning them, so stir and turn them occasionally while roasting.
Remove the seeds from the oven and allow them to cool for 20 minutes. Pour them into the jar and use the jar sealer attachment on your vacuum sealer to seal the jar.