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Harvesting and Roasting Fresh Sunflower Seeds

Our goal this year for the garden was to try and use as much as we possibly could during harvest for our families consumption and use! Trying to think outside of the box and use, freeze, process and can as much of the plants and herbs that we could! Harvesting and roasting fresh sunflower seeds was one of the most exciting parts. 

We haven’t had the best luck with our sunflowers in the past. For some reason it was one of the flowers that never came in great or held up strong enough for us to use for anything worth mentioning at harvest time. 

This year we finally got a bit of a crop and although they weren’t the enormous ones you see breaking records at county fairs they were still large enough for harvesting purposes and we will be able to use them in three different ways.

Roast for eating, freeze for planting next year and also to make some bird seed for our feathered friends!

And I was a little nervous with the really dry weather and following some really heavy rains. I thought they would hang too much and snap before they were ready or maybe we would lose them before the seeds were mature enough for picking!

So…I used the hanging trick when I brought them in to make sure that they dried out appropriately and the harvesting process was carefree!

Harvesting fresh sunflower

Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds

  • Sunflower seeds are an incredible source of protein and are packed with good fats.
  • They are loaded with vitamins and minerals.
  • A great boost in calorie intake for energy, which is why you will see a lot of athletes consume them. Every 100 grams contains roughly 585 calories.
  • They contain Vitamin E and zinc making them an immune system booster.
  • Sunflower seed consumption is linked to reducing risks of cancers, lower blood pressure, reduced cholesterol, beneficial to the skin, carries antibacterial properties and more!



Might I add that sunflowers as a flower are a serotonin booster! What a gorgeous and happy plant to have in your gardens!


harvesting fresh sunflower seeds ready

Harvesting and Roasting Fresh Sunflower Seeds

The very first step is making sure that your sunflowers are ready for harvest! There are a few key factors to look for but don’t worry if your flower doesn’t check off every one on the list because I have a drying hack for you once it comes inside!

You will want to make sure that your flower has…

  • Begun to droop. This is an indicator that your seeds have become mature and are heavy, weighing your flower down.
  • The petals are wilting and drying out.
  • You can see plump seeds showing their faces. Sunflower variations will show different colored seeds. Some black with white stripes while other will be completely black. There is no “go to” as they taste different and can be used for different purposes. ie: eating, planting, birdseeds.
  • The back of the sunflower head is turning from green to yellow…or better, brown!

Once you see that you have a sunflower ready to be harvested make sure that you cut it about an inch below the head. You can cut it a bit longer if you plan to hang dry it for added drying inside. 

Once inside you will rub off all of the disk florets, or small green bulbs in the center of the flower, and prepare it for hang drying.

To hang dry you will need…

  1. A paper bag
  2. String
  3. A sturdy clip or rope

harvesting sunflower items

harvesting sunflower hung


We let ours dry for about 2 days. You can allow it to dry for longer, should you choose! Once it is dried completely it will be an easy task to remove all of the seeds for roasting, storing or preparing for your outdoor friends.


harvesting sunflower pick

Deseeding and Roasting Sunflower Seeds

Rubbing the seeds off of the head of the flower is the easiest way to remove them. Think of it as loosening a tooth. An easy back and forth motion and they should pop right out. 

As you remove the seeds you will find some that you will have to discard that aren’t up to par or even some worms throughout. This is absolutely normal and you can just throw those ones out. 

Wash your harvested batch and put them into a bowl of salt water. Allow them to sit overnight in a soak.

24 hours later you can drain them and lay them out to dry. 

Once dry roast them at 450, F for 10-12 minutes!

harvesting sunflower soak

harvesting sunflower dry


Freezing Sunflower Seeds for Planting

When freezing sunflower seeds for planting make sure that your seeds are completely dry before you baggy them. Label them with the date and throw them into the freezer. They will be ready for you to sow into the garden for the following year!

Making Bird Seed with Sunflower Seeds

Here are some wonderful bird seed recipes you can follow to use up some of the abundance of seeds. It is a great activity to do with the kids!

This simple task can bring a lot of purpose directly out of your garden. Using as much of your crops for purposeful meaning is truly the idea of homesteading all together. 

Save some of those bright beauties to bring to the vase on your table but plant another row or two for your belly and your freezer too!

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