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Growing your own Sunflower Sprouts and Shoots

There are a couple of different ways to sprout sunflower seed and it all depends on your seed. The most common way to obtain sunflower seed is with the hull on. However you can't really sprout these seeds. They need to be grown in or on some sort of growing media and what you harvest is the shoot.

I've grow sunflower shoots in a bit of organically certified potting soil but they'll grow in or on just about anything. I just happen to use organically certified potting spoils for my container veggies so that's what I have available.

Sunflower Shoots

Sunflower shoots a few days after breaking the soil surface. Even at this stage I find they start to loose their taste. Notice how tall they've grown, reaching up for sunlight not readily available on my kitchen window sill.

Instead of soil you might even be able to get away with a few layers of damp paper towel as well. The point is that you need something for the roots to anchor to as the shoots grow. I've never tried to grow sunflower sprouts in the SproutMaster and don't think I'll try. Sunflower shoots send out lots of long thick roots down into their growing media and I imagine this would create a tangled rotting message in the SproutMaster. Besides, using some form of growing media that can hold moisture will let you add a mild application of a nitrogen based fertilizer (organic only!) for taller, healthier shoots.

So in a small tray, lay out an inch of potting spoil (something with compost or other fertilizer added), sprinkle some sunflower seeds and add another half to quarter inch of soil on top. Water and wait. It only takes a few days for the sprouts to rise and a couple more days before they're ready to eat. You may have to help out a bit and nudge the hulls off as they open. Harvest by snipping them off with a pair of scissors. Don't bother trying to clean and eat the roots. And don't wait too long to harvest and eat the shoots. I find that the sooner you eat them, the better they taste. As they grow, their taste diminishes and once they form true leaves, they become bitter and inedible.


The other way to buy your seed is hulled or without hulls. This is an ideal way to obtain sunflower seed for sprouting but don't expect to produce long tender shoots with hulled sunflower seed - that's not how it's done.

Raw Sunflower Seeds

Raw Sunflower Seed

Sunflower seeds are quite delicate inside their hull and the hulling process can easily damage the seed. You may have a hard time sourcing truly raw sunflower seed and you can not sprout seed that has been cooked or pasteurized - it will not sprout. Whole organic raw seed is the only way to go for sprouting. Check the health food stores. That's where I buy mine.


Soaking Sunflower Seed

Rinse the seeds several times to remove dust and debris and soak your seed for 12 hours. Here I have seed soaking in an EasySprout™. The seeds are enclosed in a light skin which will come loose while soaking and you should attempt to remove as many as possible. The skins hold moisture and removing them will reduce the moisture in contact with the seeds while sprouting.

After 12 Hours

After 12 Hours

After soaking, drain the seeds thoroughly and remove all of the skins you can find. Some of the seeds will appear split open but that's ok. These will sprout also. After 12 hours the seed will have swollen a little and just started to sprout. At this stage they are ready to eat. They taste crisp and have a little bit of crunch. Spots on the seeds that were damaged will have turned brown but they are still quite fine to eat.

Another 12 Hours

After 12 Hours

You can let the seed sit for another 12 hours if you want to get some shoots to form. At this point you should transfer the sprouts to the fridge for storage. Sprouted sunflower seeds do not store well and will not last long. I recommend eating the sprouts as soon as possible. Don't store them for more than a day or two.

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