Not all sunflowers have seeds that are tasty to humans; some varieties are grown as ornamentals and have smaller, tougher seeds. For edible seeds, your best bets are tall varieties (10 to 12 feet) with larger seeds. These include ‘Russian Giant’, ‘Kong’, and ‘Mammoth Russian’.
To roast sunflower seeds:
1. Cover sunflower seed heads with cheesecloth to protect them from birds.
2. When the back of the seed head is brown and dry, cut off the seed head. Leave about 2 feet of stalk attached.
3. Hang it (still in the cheesecloth) in a well-ventilated, warm location. When the backs are brown and crisp, seeds will snap out easily.
4. Cover unshelled seeds with salted water (2 quarts of water to ¼ to ½ cup salt). Simmer two hours, or soak in the salt solution overnight. Drain and dry.
5. Bake in a shallow pan at 300ºF for 30 to 40 minutes until brown and crisp, stirring occasionally.
6. Add one teaspoon of melted butter or margarine to one cup of seeds. Stir to coat.
7. Store roasted seeds in a tightly covered container.