Our biggest fan of the Sunflower Shoots, Sherri, started calling them Sunnies, and the name stuck and so that’s what we call them around the farm. Sunnies are small sunflower plants, which we grow mainly in the winter and shoulder seasons (spring and fall). They are one of the most nutritious sprouts available, high in protein and folic acid and vitamins A, C, and K.
Sunnies have a nutty and mild bitter flavour. Us North Americans don’t appreciate bitter as a flavour enough. When I was in Europe I noticed they have all sorts of bitter flavours: beligian endive, frisee lettuce, bitter almond. Truthfully, I didn’t like the sunnies at first. Now I LOVE them! Sometimes you need to eat something, let your body think about it for a while, and then try it again. By then, your body has decided “Yes, I like the nutrients in this”, and your palette adjusts accordingly. For real: I hated kombucha when I first tasted it, and now I can’t live life without it. My body needs it and so now it tastes good to me.
Season: We can grow sunnies year-round, but find that there is most interest in them in the early spring when there are less other things available, so we tend to only grow them then. If you are dying to have some, email us and we can grow a tray for you! It takes 7 – 14 days depending on the season.
Storage Tips: Sunnies are nutritional powerhouses, so eat them right away for maximum benefit. They can be stored in the plastic bag they come in, inside your fridge for up to a week.
Preparation Tips: Sunnies are basically small sunflower plants, and as they grow the hulls become stuck on the ends of the leaves beyond what is reasonable for us to remove. We can’t wash them before you get them as they are very sensitive to moisture and would rot very quickly, but you can easily remove the hulls (black, woody seed case!) when you are rinsing them before eating. If any are really stuck you can peel them off or discard that stem.
They are great as a salad topper or even as a snack, you can even juice them, and I’ve heard they can quite successfully replace the flavour of peanut butter in your smoothie. They’re a great stir-fry topping, think of them as an edible garnish that is also a nutritional powerhouse!