Remember the Damsel asked y’all to give a shoutout to her brother-in-law, who is taking cancer treatments? She’s happy to let you know he’s finished with those and is doing well.
He mailed the Damsel a big, heavy box. To her surprise, inside was two GINORMOUS sunflower heads. He’d grown them himself. She pictured they’d be lighter, but with their payload of seeds, they were quite heavy.
Bro-in-law asked for a tutorial on how to harvest and roast the seeds, and he asked so nicely that the Damsel could not refuse.
A sunflower head is ready to cut when the back is yellow and the seeds come out readily. Rub your hand across its face to loosen the dried petals and “debris” before starting in on the seeds.
Now sit yourself down and start picking seeds. Sometimes they’ll come out by rubbing your fingers across them; others may need a little more coaxing. This is a perfect job for a couple of sprog. Sort through and pick out bug-eaten or otherwise unappetizing-looking seeds, but don’t obsess.
The Damsel always wondered why nuts “salted, roasted in the shell” could be salty inside. She learned this is accomplished by soaking the little darlings in salt water.
Mix about 1/4 cup salt per quart of water. The Damsel needed 2 quarts for this prodigious crop of seeds. Stir till dissolved.
Pour the seeds into the salt water. The Damsel was concerned because the seeds floated, and she would have felt better about things if they were submerged. She stirred them a few times, but next time she might put a weighted plate on top of the seeds to hold them under water. Leave for 24 hours.
So many of these old school thingies require waiting. The Damsel hates waiting.
Drain the seeds and rinse briefly, then pat dry with a clean dishcloth. Spread the seeds in a single layer on a rimmed cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, stirring every ten minutes. The Damsel was required to do two batches, but she survived.
She also has come to realize that being a sunflower seed sheller would be a tedious job. Please tell her there is a machine for that.