If you grew sunflowers this year, you will most likely have been enjoying the beauty of the flowers in the last few weeks.
Don't forget they also now provide a wonderful, protein-rich food bounty – the flowers are hiding hundreds of sunflower seeds which you can harvest and store to sprinkle on your porridge. The key to successful harvesting of the seeds is to get the flower head dry – this can be done outside (if the weather's fine and sunny) or else by removing the head and drying it indoors.
Wait until about half the yellow petals have dropped and the flower is wilting. Have a look at the seeds – you will see them lurking in behind the black florets.
Remove the head leaving 30cm of stem attached to the head. Tie a paper bag over the head, and fasten it loosely with some string or twine. Don't use plastic – you want air to be able to circulate inside the bag.
Hang the head upside down indoors somewhere dry and sunny for about a week. I hang them in the greenhouse. The bag captures any seeds that fall off.
The seeds should come away easily when dry, simply by rubbing them. Wash the seeds, then dry them well and store in an airtight container.
If you can, be generous, and leave some of the sunflowers in situ for birds and other wildlife to share the spoils.