How to Prepare Sunflower Seeds


Sunflowers come in many varieties, both large and small. An attractive ornamental, some varieties also feature large seed heads that produce many edible seeds. Growing edible sunflower varieties ensures you will have a large crop of the versatile seeds once the flower heads mature. Preparing the seeds for consumption, to use on recipes or as a snack all on its own, is a simple process. Nature takes care of the drying part and the rest can be done in as little as an afternoon.

Step 1

Wait for the petals on the flower head to wilt and fall off. Once the head begins tilting toward the ground and the back turns yellowish-brown, cut it off from the stalk, leaving a 1-foot piece of stem attached.

Step 2

Wrap the flower head in cheese cloth and secure with a rubber band. Hang the covered seed head upside down in a dry place for two weeks.

Step 3

Remove the cheese cloth, taking care to not spill any seeds. Brush your hand over the seed head and dislodge the rest of the sunflower seeds onto the spread-out cheese cloth.

Step 4

Fill a large pot with 2 quarts water and ½ cup salt. Place up to 4 cups of sunflower seeds in the water.

Step 5

Cover the pot, then bring it to a boil. Simmer the sunflower seeds on low to medium heat for two hours.

Step 6

Remove from heat and drain seeds in a colander. Spread in a single layer on paper towels and blot dry.

Step 7

Spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast in a 300-degree Fahrenheit oven for 30 minutes.

Tips and Warnings

  • Sunflower shells are to hard to easily crack if they aren't boiled. Soak in water overnight instead of boiling if preferred.

Things You'll Need

  • Cheese cloth
  • Rubber band
  • Pot
  • Salt
  • Measuring cups
  • Colander
  • Paper towels
  • Baking sheet


  • University of Missouri Extension
Keywords: rasting sunflower seeds, harvesting seeds, sunflower seed preparation

About this Author

Jenny Harrington is a freelance writer of more than five years' experience. Her work has appeared in "Dollar Stretcher" and various blogs. Previously, she owned her own business for four years, selling handmade items online, wholesale and via the crafts fair circuit. Her specialties are small business, crafting, decorating and gardening.