If you grow your own giant sunflowers and want to harvest the seeds to roast, watch for when their necks begin to bend and the petals dry around the center. Another good clue is when birds and other critters begin to feast on them.
To harvest, cut the flower head from the stalk.
Gently rub the flowers from the seeds into your compost or garden beds.
Then, from the outside working inward, massage the face of the sunflower to dislodge the seeds.
As you approach the middle of the flower, test the seed pods to be sure they actually have seeds inside. To do so, pinch the pods. If they pop, they're empty.
Once you have removed all of the viable seeds from the sunflower head, you're ready to tackle the easy directions below to roast your own.
Roasted Sunflower Seeds (In Shells)
These directions are for salted, roasted sunflower seeds. If you don't want them salted, simply rinse them off and roast them. Without being lodged with water, they will roast more quickly at 400°F, a mere few minutes.
1 cup raw in-shell sunflower seeds
2 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt, or 2 Tbsp table salt
1 quart water
Jalapeño powder, optional (I make my own with dehydrated Jalapeño and kosher salt)
1. Place sunflower seeds, salt, and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and simmer for 20 minutes.
2. Drain the water from the seeds and spread them out in a single layer on a cookie tray. Place in the oven at 400°F. Roast for 15 minutes, periodically turning them so that they roast on both sides. Optional: sprinkle the Jalapeño powder over the top of the seeds before placing them in the oven to roast.
3. Continue to check the seeds every few minutes until they are dry enough and roasted to your satisfaction.