I grew a half dozen Grey Stripe Mammoth sunflowers this year and decided to save some seed for snacks. These monster plants are not the tallest sunflowers one can grow, but they are tall enough, and the mature seed heads are well over a foot across. This seed came from Botanical Interests. Mammoth Grey Stripe is an old, open pollinated variety, so I can save a few of these to grow again, next year.
The seeds were just starting to let go from the heads and become food for the birds when I cut them all off with pruning loppers.
Removing the seeds was easily done by rubbing them out with a gloved hand. I just let them fall into a five gallon bucket to collect them.
We got over a gallon of seeds from the six large heads. I did a little online research, but I didn’t find any reference as to a quick and easy way to separate the good seeds from the ones not worth saving and the debris from the flower head. I ended up dumping about a pint of seeds at a time onto a cookie sheet and just hand picking out the good seeds while moving all the chaff and bad seeds to the other side of the sheet. It was a little time consuming, but not that hard. Judy and I each took turns sorting a pile of seeds to break up the monotony.
We salted and oven dried most of the seeds. The method cited online in several sources calls for soaking the seeds in a solution of a cup of salt to a gallon of water. We soaked them overnight, stirring them frequently, and dried them on cookie sheets in the oven at 200o for about four hours.
Here is the finished product. A gallon of seeds, lightly salted. We’ll have snacks for several months to come and we’ll have plenty to give away, too.