An excellent natural protein source that is full of calcium and potassium, sunflower seeds are a favorite treat for people and animals. Varieties such as Mammoth, Paul Bunyan Hybrid, Aztec Gold Hybrid and Super Snack Hybrid are all desirable for producing edible seeds. Harvesting and drying sunflower seeds is an easy project, with a little patience and a few helpful hints.
Check the sunflowers for harvest-ready cues. The front of the flower will reveal a head of large, chubby, white and black striped seeds. The back of the head should be a dry, brown color. Seeds should not be falling away from the head yet.
Cut the sunflower stalk to a foot-long length with garden shears.
Cover the head with cheesecloth, which will gather seeds during the drying and shedding process.
Hang cut sunflower heads upside in a dry place with good air circulation. Allow the heads to dry and the seeds to fall into the cheesecloth.
Harvest fully dried seeds either from the cheesecloth after dropping, or by gently raking your fingers against the dried head until the seed falls away. Dried seeds are light in weight and detach from the head easily when disturbed.
Dried seeds may roasted or boiled. To roast seeds, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Spread the dried seeds out on a shallow pan. Bake for up to 15 minutes. Boil seeds covered in water, adding up to 1/2 cup of salt per 2 quarts water, for two hours. Drain and spread seeds out to dry on paper towels. Store seeds in sealed, air-tight containers.