Sunflower seeds make a tasty and nutritious snack. However, to eat them, you must first dry them. Roasting is optional, but they will not taste very good if you do not dry them. The good news is that you may be able to leave them outside on your sunflowers to dry. The bad news is that the birds will think they are delicious as well, so you may have to take precautions to be able to harvest your sunflowers' bounty.
Watch your sunflowers as the seeds come to maturity and the flowers start to dry up. The backs of the flowers will turn brown, the yellow petals will start to shrivel and the seeds themselves will be plump and black-and-white striped. Leave them alone to dry on the flower unless you notice birds eating your seeds.
Wrap a piece of cheesecloth around the sunflower's head and tie it to the stem underneath the base of the flower head with twine. Tie it securely so that stiff winds do not knock it loose. Cheesecloth will allow the seeds to continue drying but will prevent avian opportunists from plundering your snacking bounty.
Pluck the entire sunflower off the plant and rub the seeds out of the head with your hands. This will loosen them from the flower, even if they are not dry, and they will fall right out. Use a food dehydrator set to 100 degrees Fahrenheit according to the manufacturer's instructions to dry the seeds.
Spread the seeds out in a single layer across a piece of fine-mesh screen, such as that used in a screen door. Spread the screen on top of a sheet pan, so that air is allowed to pass the seeds on all sides. Set the sheet pan and screen full of sunflower seeds in a cool, dry place, away from any drafts or direct sunlight. Allow to air-dry for a few days.