Taking on an abandoned plot at the local community garden we decided to plant a bean tee-pee surrounded by a sunflower garden. Since we planted sunflowers later into the summer their bloom has been delayed until this week just in time for the start of the school year and luckily also the garden “open house” event. Now I just need a welcome sign to let visitors know they may enter. The variety used was Mammoth Grey sold by Bakers Creek Heirloom Seed Company. They are drought tolerant but will produce a better seed if well watered.
As the flower heads begin to lean downward and shed their small yellow corollas on the many disk flowers it may be time to harvest for seeds. To be sure you can pull out a seed to check for striping and texture. The shell of the seed should feel slightly solid and crack or pop open when pressed to reveal the seed meat inside. I’ve read that you can place the whole seed head in a cool dark place like a paper bag in a closet to let the seeds dry for a few weeks but we went ahead and removed the seeds after cutting and enjoyed them as both a tasty treat raw and cooked.
To make them salty, soak the seeds in a salt water bath over night. Drain the water and any remaining little floaty bits. Let the seeds dry on a tray or window screen. Place them on a cookie sheet type tray in the oven coated lightly with a touch of oil and a pinch of sea salt. They can cook at about 300 degrees F for 30 to 40 minutes until golden. Try it out. We enjoyed them.