The bare bones of the plants we eat

Sunflower seeds

Next: Walnuts

Scientific name – Helianthus annuus

Sunflower seeds vary enormously in their shape and colour as seen above. The smaller black seeds are mainly used in oil production, the larger, often striped seeds shown here being more popular for eating. At the top are seeds removed from their husks.

When the seeds are processed with their husks on they are first dried and then may be roasted or dusted with salt or flour for the preservation of their flavour. The husk is commonly removed in the mouth by cracking with ones teeth and spitting out the shell, while keeping the nutritious kernel in the mouth. Sunflower seeds are commonly eaten as a healthy snack as well as being included in bread mixes, used as garnishes or as an ingredient in various recipes. Seeds can also be sprouted and used in salads, however eating old sunflower seeds can lead to stomach upsets or even more serious problems. The raw seeds have a semi-crunchy texture and a rather oily taste which is improved by dry roasting fora short period.