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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.

IMG_4094Drain 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.

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  • Sande Nascimento

    oh that was a nice post!

  • 7mooses

    Yes, yes there is a… there are lots of machines to do that! Google “sunflower seed sheller” for images. The first page has machines from little to gigantic and one hamster!! LOL!!

  • I loved this post. That pic with the sunflower heads on the counter — awesome.

    I hate waiting, too.

    I’m amazed at all you know and do.

    • damsel

      Thanks! Come back soon.

  • I grow sunflowers for the bees and birds every year…the bees get the pollen and the birdies get the seeds. I never have the heart to take the seeds for myself.

  • Zach Watson

    Thank you! I just got a sunflower head and wanted to know how to salt and roast the seeds. I thought soaking them in brine would work and remembered you pickled onion recipe said how to make the brine. When I got here though this was the first thing I saw. You are a wonderful lady Damsel!

    • damsel

      Great timing! And, I just have to say I like your email address.

  • Ben Hovley

    Dear Damsel thank you for the sunflower seed recipe. I am finally harvesting my sunflower plants. I think I might try the weighted plate approach that you mentioned to submerge the seeds. So Damsel my question is how would I spice up the seeds? Lets say I might like to make them zesty hot? Thanks Damsel! The Bro-in-law!

  • Ben Hovley

    Dear Damsel

    I am very sorry to hear that you have the flu. I hope you make a speedy recovery. I and my sprog Jared have been enjoying our roasted sunflower seeds. We discovered that if you put about 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a bowl. Then you add your sunflower seeds before you roast them. Roll the seeds in the oil and then put them on the pan your going to roast them with. I then find a spice I want to use and sprinkle it over the shells. I used cayenne pepper the last time I did this. When it was done roasting I had spicey sunflower seeds. Thanks!

    Ben Hovley

    • damsel

      hey cool! Great idea.

  • Pastor Nico

    it’s even more old school to stick the whole flower in the oven and roast it— that’s what they serve in bars in Poland– big ol sunflowers