Garden, Plant, Cook!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Incredible Edible Sunflower - Second Leaf

Dear Folks,

Everyone has most likely eaten sunflower seeds, or more commonly, sunflower kernels -- the shelled seed.

The seed can be eaten raw, roasted/toasted with or without spices, ground into meal/flour (even "Seed Butter" with a bit of oil and salt added), and sprouted.

Consider making my 'cracker' recipe with ground sunflower kernels.

The sprouts can be eaten raw, cooked in meals like stir-fry, or dried and ground into flour for 'sprouted' breads and other baked goods.  Like all seeds and nuts, flour from these great foods contains no gluten, so keep that in mind when baking with either the ground seed or dried and ground sprouts.

I have put together some information on the nutrition of some of the phases of the seed.  Use these as guides not absolutes.

In the pictures I am showing 2 tablespoons (1/8 cup) of kernels.

Ground this results in a level but not packed 1/4 cup of meal/flour

Sprouted I wound up with just at 3/4 cup of sprouts at day 5

Sunflower Kernels (no hull)
2 tablespoons (1/8 cup)
Calories 102
Fat 9.01 grams
Protein 3.64 grams
Fiber 1.5 grams
Iron .92 mg
Calcium  14 mg
Source: USDA / NND

Sunflower Butter/Meal (ground from kernels)

2 tablespoons
Calories 197
Fat 17.66 gm
Protein 5.53 gm
Fiber 1.8 gms
Iron  1.32 mg
Calcium  20
Source:  USDA / NND

Sunflower Sprouts 

(Multiple these by factor of 3 to equal 3/4 cup)
1/4 cup
Calories 190
Fat 16 grams
Protein 6 grams
Fiber 2 grams
Iron 14 mg
Calcium 20 mg
Source: LiveStrong

Nutrition Sources:

Why Sprout?

So you might be wondering about sprouting seeds, nuts, veggies (beans etc.) and grains with all the great weather we have here in our desert gardens.

In 4 season climates, sprouting is recommended because they can have fresh greens all winter long.

Now look at our summers where we have wonderful beans, corn, sunflowers, basil, some tomatoes but little lettuce or greens.

So sprouting during our hot months of the year gives us additions to our salads, soups and stews, which are easy to do, can be made on a rotating basis of variety, and in a volume suited to the number of people in a home.

I used the good-old mason jar for sprouting my sunflowers - I have a sprout cap - plastic lid with holes to permit draining and air circulation.  However, there are some sprouting systems available that provide more flexibility and possible performance.

About the hulls/shells of sprouts - they can be either a pain or a boon depending on your preferences.  I saw a nice tip on a sprouting site the other day.  Use your salad spinner to 'de-hull' or 'de-shell' the finished sprouts.

I did not try this, but I do figure you don't want to be too forceful with the spinning, unless you plan to chop the sprouts anyway, as the force will no-doubt break them up some.

If I sprout black-oil sunflower seeds I plan on using the spinner as I KNOW those shells can be tough to get off.

I hope you have your sunflowers planted.  You can seed in through July to enjoy them all the way through fall.

My PDF calendar helps you plant / sow at the best times through the desert, edible garden year..

 -- Catherine, The Herb Lady

Note:  If you click on ads on my blog and purchase items I may receive a small commission.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Incredible Edible Sunflower - More Fun Facts

Dear Folks,

Yesterday while harvesting some parts of the sunflower for my series, I noticed a lot of sap along the exterior edges of the sunflower leaves.

Cool Factoid!  Guttation!

The sap was sticky and sweet and I knew from earlier research (see note below about grape pearls) that it was not a problem, but a curiosity.

"Guttation is the exudation of drops of xylem sap on the tips or edges of leaves of some vascular plants, such as grasses."  -- wikipedia

"...root pressure forces some water to exude through special leaf tip or edge structures, hydathodes or water glands, forming drops."

I thought that was a pretty cool, new-to-me piece of information.

Another aspect of growing sunflowers in your garden is the Allelopathy attraction of sunflowers to aphids.  Notes on sunflowers as the 4th sister in the Three Sisters (Monsoon) growing practice of the Native Peoples was the fact that sunflowers drew aphids away from the other plants (corn, beans and squash).

I had a recent opportunity to see this in our gardens.  Two points about dealing with aphids:  1) you can use safe soap sprays to your advantage, but 2) you need to do so in such a way that a) it does not harm the beneficial insects, while b) allowing enough of the aphids to draw in the beneficial insects.

In the first picture below you can see that aphids have started to swarm on one of my sunflowers.

In the second picture you can see an assassin bug (the cavalry arriving) cruising one of the sunflowers.

For those of you becoming familiar with the good bugs/bad bugs in the garden, you may think the picture of the assassin is a leaf-foot.  Though a little similar in appearance the feet are different, and more difficult to see in the picture are the very, very long front legs of the assassin.

I did use the spray in the recommended 3 times over 15 days - no more aphids!

Grape Pearls:  About a month or so ago our Staci noticed white spots of something she thought might be pests on her grape vine stems.  I thought it looked like sap from the picture she sent and found out it was "Grape Pearls" a type of sap.

"Grape pearls are small sap-like, fluid-filled balls that are exuded from surface cells of rapidly growing grape vines. They appear most commonly in the spring and are often confused with mite or insect eggs. Some vines have many grape pearls but the pearls can appear singly or in smaller groups. They are usually found on the underside of leaves but can be on shoots as well. Grape pearls, also called "sap balls" are of no consequence to the vine." --

If you missed the first post in my new blog series on the sunflower, click here.

You may find some of my publications helpful with gardening in the desert for vegetables, fruits and herbs, or ideas for cooking with your harvest.

My publisher site is here.

Have a great day in the garden.  (P.S. Rainy time is a good time for transplanting - it helps the soil seal to the roots of the plants.)

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady