Sunflowers are wilting over and the seeds are ripening. Some say to wait until the back of the blossom is yellow, but once the big yellow petals are pretty much gone you can start looking to see when the seeds are becoming striped and mature. The little florets will come off easily. Sometimes ants will start crawling over the heads but that is not a problem.
Once the seeds are striped, they are mature, and you can cut off the head and wash it off in a bucket with a pressure nozzle; rub the seeds off into a kettle, add some salt water and you’re on the way to some great snacks, for you and your local birds. One tip: it takes a lot of space to dry the seeds after you’ve had them in the salt water: about two square feet for each sunflower’s worth of seeds; and you’ll do well to use some sort of fan or heated fan to help with the drying. It can take many hours if you don’t have enough space. There are probably some inventive ways of drying them outside in the sun, but you’ll have to account for such things as birds and bugs.
Roasting is trial and error, tastewise: try some with butter, margarine, olive oil, tamari, or whatever strikes your fancy. I use olive oil, about a teaspoon per cup of seeds. A cookie sheet will hold about a cup and a half of seeds, single layer. I roasted for 15 minutes, at about 275-300, stirring several times. You have to watch closely, and get them out before they turn brown.