Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Here comes the Sunflower...and a recipe.

Oh the beautiful Sunflower! Big and Bright. In the summer I love to watch the goldfinches swoop through the yard and land on the sunflowers. Bees convene on their big heads.

Why do I wax poetic about sunflowers in February? Well, as much as there are plenty of things about this season that keep me in the moment; long walks on cold days, chickadees calling from the boughs of the field pine in the yard. Sunflowers mean warmth. Sunflowers also mean food. Sunflower seeds are good for you. Last year I harvested the seeds from the sunflowers in our garden. I hung them up to dry for a few days in our shed. I reserved some of the hardiest looking seeds to plant again this year. I planted mammoth grey stripe. The rest were given to a small gerbil we call Munchy who resides in Evan's bedroom. This year I plan to plant quite a few more sunflowers. My hope is that we will be able to provide some of the food for the fowl we plan to bring to our homestead this year.

I don't have the technology to shuck every seed for our own food. I don't have a press for oil either. But I know that as a local food source for seed and oil that it will not be too hard to find soon. There are farms in the Northern Kingdom of Vermont that are experimenting with growing sunflowers. A few years back we were driving past beautiful fields of this workhorses of the flower world. Some of those farms are growing them for fuel for their farm. Last summer I met a woman who grows sunflowers for fuel and food right here in Maine. It is mostly for her own consumption. On ocassion I have also been able to purchase Maine grown sunflower oil.

We have been trying to find a substitute for peanut butter. We had been buying organic peanut butter. But it has just become too costly for our palette. We also would like to find something more local but until we do we have been making sunflower butter with the hope that someday soon we will be able to buy local sunflower seeds.

Sunflower Butter

All measurements are approximate.

A cup or so of sunflower seeds
A couple of tablespoons of sunflower oil
Salt to taste

Put sunflower seeds in a skillet and toast the seeds. Shake pan occasionally. When seeds begin to brown and make a popping sound, take them off the heat.

Grind seeds. I use a grain mill but a food processor or blender will work too. I have ground this find and roughly. It is a matter of preference.

I put all the seeds in a widemouth canning pint jar.

Add oil one tablespoon at a time. Stirring after each tablespoon until you have the consistency you would like. You may want a little more oil.

Add salt to taste.


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