The seeds of the sunflower form in the centre of the sunflower head. Protecting them from birds to allow the seeds to fully mature may be necessary. A good way of protecting them is to cover the heads with a bag (we find that reusable mesh produce bags are ideal for this). Wait until the flower has finished blooming as it needs to be pollinated. Once the petals have started drying out cover the flower head to allow the seeds to mature on the plant. The seeds are mature once the back of the flower head is brown. You can then cut the flower head from the plant.
If you are growing sunflower for chicken feed then they can be given whole flower heads at a time. If you wish to remove the seeds for future planting or to eat yourself then brush off the flower chaff (the bits cover the seed) and remove the seeds with your fingers.
Sunflower seeds should ideally be planted within 2 years of harvest and last best in dry, cool storage away from direct sunlight.
Roasted Sunflower Seed Snacks Recipe
1 cup sunflower seeds
½ cup salt
Optional extra flavourings of your choice (chilli flakes, dried herbs, seasoning blends etc)
Add sunflower seeds, water and salt to a pan. Bring to a boil, stirring to ensure the salt is fully dissolved. Turn down the heat and simmer for 1hr. Strain the seeds without rinsing.
Put in a single layer in a baking dish in a 160oC oven approximately 25minutes stirring frequently. The seeds are done when they are lightly browned and start to smell amazing. Add any seasonings you wish or eat plain.