Sunflower sprouts are baby sunflowers. They make an inexpensive and tasty nutritional addition to any salad or green smoothie.
Fresh, crunchy, and slightly nutty in flavor they are grown indoors all year round, providing lovely fresh greens in the depths of winter.
They can also be grown outdoors when the weather is warm. I find they need protecting from hungry wildlife with netting or some squirrel proof wire mesh if I do this.
This is how I grow sunflower sprouts. We usually have a tray growing somewhere in the house. They're so tasty I snack on them straight from the tray, and a small boy I know likes to pretend he's Peter Rabbit stealing from Mr McGregor's garden.
1. Soak a cup of unhulled sunflower seeds for 8 hours or overnight, and then rinse and drain them.
2. Leave in a warm dark cupboard and rinse twice a day until they start to sprout. You will see small white 'roots' growing out of the sunflower seeds shells.
Remove any large pieces of chaff and damaged seeds that show up yellow or brown at this stage.
3. Prepare a seed tray, or other container, with a good quality potting soil or compost. Make sure that you gently push the soil right into the corners of the tray. Tip the sprouted seeds into the middle of the tray, and gently spread them out evenly. It's fine if they touch, but try not to overlap them.
4. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil taking care not to disturb them, and leave in a warm place out of direct sunlight.
5. Check daily to see if they need watering. Water gently, and keep out of direct sunlight. They will need more water if the temperature's hot, and less if it's cool. Over watering makes them prone to mold and rot, while under watering may mean they die of thirst, and will certainly stunt them.
6. As the sunflowers grow I give them a gently shoggle (technical term) with my fingers to encourage the top layer of compost to fall down into the tray.
7. They are ready to harvest when their smooth seed leaves are large and green, and the second hairier leaves have not yet grown. Most of the husks will have fallen off the sprouts by this point, but you will need to pull a few off by hand.
The above tray of sunflower sprouts is only just ready for harvesting. You could happily leave them for another day or two, which would give most of the smaller sprouts time to shed their husks and open their seed leaves.
8. To harvest the sprouts cut off near the base with sharp clean
scissors, rinse in cold water to remove any traces of soil, and spin dry
in a salad spinner.
9. Enjoy fresh in your salad or green smoothie, or store in an airtight container in the fridge. Refridgerated they keep fresh for 5-7 days, providing they're almost dry, and all the husks have been removed.
10. Hoover or sweep up all those pesky husks!
Are your concerned about mold on your lovely sunflower greens? If so click the previous link to learn more.