Summer is ending; are your sunflower seeds ready to harvest? Sunflowers ready to harvest will look dead or dying. They'll be wilted, dry and brown with basically no yellow petals. The bottom of the heads will turn yellow when the seeds are ripe for dying!
How to dry?
1. Cover the head of the sunflower with a brown paper bag. Tie it tightly around the base with a piece of string, so you won't loose any seeds. It's best to use a paper bag so you don't get any fungus, and to keep the moisture from sitting.
Note: If you need to bring your plant indoors to complete the drying, cut the flower head from the plant at least 12" from the bottom of the bag. It it upside down and hang in a warm, dry spot with good ventilation.
2. Open the bag each day and collect any seeds which may have already fallen off. When the back of the flower head has turned dark brown and very dry, the seeks will be dry and ready to harvest, too! This can take 1-4 days. When ready, cut the stalk about 12" below the bag (don't remove the bag, or you'll lose seeds!)
3. To remove the seeds, rub you hand across the seeds and they'll pop right off! Collect them in a colander and rinse them well with cold water. Drain. Spread out on a single layer, thick towel. Let them air dry for a few hours. Pick out any debris you find.
4. Your dried sunflower seeds are ready to eat just as they are, or you can spread them on a cookie sheet and lightly toast them in the oven and salt them. Store them (if you toast them they need to be completely cooled) in air-tight containers or re-sealable plastic bags.