Sunflower Sprouts and Greens

by Thomas E. Billings

Copyright (c) 1996 by Thomas E. Billings. This document may be distributed freely for non-commercial purposes provided 1) this copyright notice is included, 2) the document is distributed free of charge, with the sole exception that a photocopy charge, not to exceed ten cents (U.S.) per printed page may be charged by those distributing this paper. All commercial rights reserved; contact author for details (contact address given at end).

Sunflower sprouts and greens - background

As there is some confusion regarding terminology, it is best to begin by specifying sunflower sprouts as hulled sunflower seeds that have been soaked and sprouted for a day or so. Sunflower greens are the baby plants that result when unhulled seeds are grown in soil, generally for 7-8 days.

One can think of the sprouts as pre-digested seeds. Unsprouted sunflower seeds are high in fat and protein. However, sprouting activates the seed, with many changes as it sprouts: dramatic increase in enzyme levels, seed fats are converted to essential fatty acids and carbohydrates, proteins are converted to essential amino acids and/or sugars, and vitamin levels (on a dry basis) increase substantially. Due to their activate enzymes, sprouts are much easier to digest than dry seeds. Further, as the seed sprouts its flavor is enhanced - sunflower sprouts have an earthy flavor and are very popular.

While the sprouts are pre-digested seeds, the greens are a tender baby vegetable, high in chlorophyll, and a substitute for lettuce. Sunflower greens have a slightly salty taste that some compare to watercress. They are rich in chlorophyll, enzymes, vitamins, proteins, and the most important "nutrient", the life force. Some writers report the greens are a rich source of lecithin and Vitamin D. Additionally, unlike most expensive freeze-dried supplements such as spirulina and algae, sunflower greens that you grow are alive up to the time you eat them (most freeze-dried items are dead).

Sunflower greens are a delicious addition to salads. Additionally, they can be juiced and used in green drinks or added to carrot juice. If you find the juice too strong by itself, you can mix it with celery juice or fennel juice (can juice green fennel tops).

Producing sunflower sprouts and greens

Sunflower sprouts are produced using the methods one would use for most seeds. Begin with hulled seeds, soak overnight in water. Then drain off the loose inner hulls (important!), and put the soaked seed in the sprouting environment - jars, cloth, or commercial sprouter, for about 1 day. Removing the inner hulls is very important, as if left in, they will spoil and ruin your batch of sprouts. The sprouting environment can be glass jars with plastic screen lids (propped up at 45 degree angle), or the seed can be placed between damp cotton washcloths, on flat-bottomed bowls or saucers.

Sunflower greens can be grown indoors, without soil (in jars or trays). However for highest nutrient/life force content, it is suggested that they be grown in soil, and in natural sunlight (or full spectrum grow lights). They can be grown in soil on cafeteria trays, non-aluminum baking trays, or better still, the plastic trays used by plant nurseries for growing seedlings. For soil, most people use commercial soil or soil/peat mixes. It is suggested that you add a small amount of rock dust (including lime), and/or kelp powder, to the soil to enhance mineral content.

Now to plant the greens: starting with unhulled sunflower seeds grown for human consumption (not for bird feed), soak the seed overnight, then put them in the sprouting environment for 2 days, or until the roots just start to emerge from the hulls. Then transfer the seeds to a soil-filled flat. Spread seeds evenly on top of soil; do not cover with soil. Water flat, cover with an empty flat, leave for 2 days. Then uncover seedlings and expose to light. Water daily; the greens will be ready generally on day 7 or 8 (where soaking of seed is day 1). Be sure to harvest before the 2nd set of leaves emerges, as they get very bitter and unpalatable after that. To harvest, cut greens from tray with scissors, and remove any hard hulls that remain on the greens.

Sunflower seed sprouts and greens can be a nutritious and delicious part of a raw/living foods diet. Enjoy!

Author Contact:
Thomas E. Billings

Disclaimer: Throughout this website, statements are made pertaining to the properties and/or functions of food and/or nutritional products. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and these materials and products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.