Drying sunflower seeds makes a tasty fall treat for kids older than 6 and adults. The seeds present a choking hazard for young children and babies. Sunflower seeds are full of nutrients, including phosphorous, calcium, and potassium, and a 1/4 cup is only around 200 calories.
Pick seeds from the sunflower head once the petals have fallen off and the back of the flower head turns brown and dry. The seeds should be striped black and white and look plump.
Fill a large pot with 2 quarts of water and add 1/4 to 1/2 cup salt. Pour the unshelled seeds into the pot with the salted water. The seeds should be covered with 1 to 2 inches of water. If not, divide the seeds into two or three batches. Bring the pot to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for about two hours. If the water evaporates below the level of the seeds, add more hot water to keep them covered.
Drain the pot over a colander. Place two layers of paper towels on cookie sheets and spread the seeds over top. Leave them there until they are dry.
Place seeds in a shallow pan with sides. A rectangular sheet cake pan works well. You may need more than one. Place the pan in a preheated 300 degree F oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Stir the seeds every 8 to 10 minutes with a wooden spoon. The seeds are done when they turn light brown.
Let the seeds cool and put them in an air-tight container. A plastic container with a lid will suffice, as will a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Or, use seal-able plastic sandwich bags.