Can you eat Sunflowers? Yes – absolutely! The whole of the common sunflower Helianthus annuus is edible.
The common sunflower, scientifically known as Helianthus annuus, provides a variety of edible delights. Nonetheless, distinguishing between different species of sunflowers is essential as some are not grown for human use. Helianthus annuus cultivars are the edible sunflowers.
Sunflowers contain chemicals known as sesquiterpene lactones (STLs) in various parts of the plant, raising concerns about potential toxicity.
STLs are natural plant compounds with potential medicinal benefits. These chemicals can be found in the leaves, stems, and flowers of the sunflower plant.
STLs’ toxicity to humans is dependent on a variety of factors, including the particular kind of STL, individual tolerance, and the amount taken.
Small amounts of sunflower plant components containing STLs, such as leaves or petals, are generally regarded safe, and substantial toxicity is rarely associated with such ingestion.
Learn About the Edible Secrets of Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus)
Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) are one of the most well-known and loved of all our summer flowers. They are renowned for their sun-like flowers and towering presence and of course for the fact that the flowerheads track the sun during the day!
Try growing sunflowers in your garden. They are so easy to seed, need very little attention and the kids LOVE them.
But sunflowers offer much more than just visual appeal.
What Nutritional Value do Sunflowers Have?
I love the fact that sunflowers are not only beautiful, they also have so many other nutritious benefits.
Most of the nutritional value is in the seeds which are considered a super food due to the high level of fatty oils, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. These properties make it a valuable food in aiding cardiovascular health, increasing immunity, and reducing inflammation.
Read here for a comprehensive detail of the nutritional value of sunflower seeds.
What Parts of the Sunflower are Edible?
Beyond their beauty, every part of the sunflower plant is edible when eaten in small amounts, although personally I don’t think the leaves and stalks are very palatable! They are covered in small hairs which can cause irritations to some. I also found them a bit tough and not very tasty.
However, my research has found that the leaves can be cooked and used in dishes similar to spinach. The stalks become very tough and fibrous as they get older but if you harvest them young, then they can also be cooked or some say can be eaten raw like celery.
How to Use the Different Parts of the Sunflower Plant
Sunflower Microgreens or Sprouts
Sunflower microgreens are quite popular due to their delicious, fresh, and somewhat nutty flavor.
But what exactly are these microgreens? They are young sunflower seedlings, harvested when they reach a few centimetres in height.
How to Grow Sunflower Microgreens
Growing sunflower microgreens is an easy and pleasant procedure.
Begin by soaking the seeds in water overnight. Following that, rinse and drain them before putting them in a sprouting jar or tray and following the sprouting instructions.
Place them in a spot out of direct sunlight and leave them to grow.
When they have reached a few centimeters tall, cut them away from the seed casings and they’re ready to eat!
These crisp microgreens give a burst of freshness and flavor to salads, sandwiches, and other foods when eaten raw.
Another option is to use the seedlings from your sunflower patch that you trim out after germination.
This allows you to make the best use of all available resources while reducing waste and enjoying in the delightful taste of these sunflower microgreens.
Sunflower petals can be used to add color, visual appeal, and a mild floral taste to salads.
Gently pluck the petals and toss them with other salad ingredients like greens, vegetables, and dressings.
They provide a delightful spark of sunshine color that complements fresh and crisp salads.
The petals also look and taste great on an edible flower pizza. It pairs particularly well with fresh tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella.
Sunflower seeds have a special place in the hearts of our wildlife friends and birds, who like them when they are left on the plant stem. This is always a sure way to encourage birdlife and wildlife into your garden.
Sunflower seeds are considered a superfood due to its high nutritional content, which includes protein, fibre, Vitamin E, and selenium. These little beauties are also high in minerals like calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium.
With so much goodness, sunflower seeds can be prepared and eaten in a variety of ways, whether raw or roasted.
Can You Eat Raw Sunflower Seeds?
These nutritional seeds are often eaten raw, providing a delicious and pleasant snack. Sunflower seeds have a light nutty flavor and a soft texture when eaten uncooked.
They make an excellent standalone snack as well as a versatile addition to salads, yoghurt, and smoothies, adding a crunchy and healthy touch to our culinary efforts.
Can You Eat the Shell of a Sunflower Seed?
Are sunflower seed shells safe to eat?
In reality, eating the sunflower seed shell is not advised because it is sharp and fairly indigestible. A few shells are not harmful and will not harm you, although they are not tasty.
As a result, it is advisable to appreciate the sunflower seed’s inner value while avoiding the shells.
What’s the Easiest Way to Shell Sunflower Seeds?
It’s often easier to find previously shelled sunflower kernels but if you’re growing sunflowers and want to shell the seeds yourself, here’s a quick and easy method:
Begin by putting a handful of sunflower seeds in a plastic bag and tightly sealing it. Roll a rolling pin over the seeds to break open their hard shells.
Now you need to separate the seeds from the shells. Though the procedure of separating the kernels may be a bit tricky, here’s a simple hack:
Fill a basin halfway with water with the contents of the bag. The sunflower seed shells will naturally float to the top, while the sunflower seed kernels will sink to the bottom. Drain the water and pat the seeds dry when finished.
Store them in a sealed jar in the fridge until you want to use them
How to Roast or Toast Sunflower Seeds.
After shelling, the sunflower seeds are ready to roast or toast. Many people prefer the flavour and texture of roasted seeds to raw seeds. Roasting enhances the nutty flavour, adding a delicious crunch and turns them into a flavorful snack.
Place the sunflower kernels on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes at 300 degrees F.
Alternatively, to toast a handful of seeds quickly, dry fry them in a frying pan until evenly browned. Season with salt and other ingredients to taste.
Roasted sunflower seeds make a delicious snack and can also be used to enhance the flavour and texture of salads and stir-fries. Asian foods, or even sunbutter (sunflower seed butter), a delicious alternative to peanut butter.
So, Can You Eat Sunflowers?
So now you know that yes, you can eat sunflowers!
Grow them, care for them, harvest them and most of all enjoy them!