High in vitamins, minerals, and protein, sunflower seeds are little powerhouses of nutrition. They are also a great stand-in for nuts for those who are allergic to them.
However, like all nuts and seeds, sunflower seeds also contain phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors which protect them from sprouting until they have the rain and sun they need to grow. And unfortunately, these natural chemicals are quite hard on the digestive system. Here’s how to get around that problem…
Traditional Preparation for Sunflower Seeds
In nature, a seed or nut normally gets enough moisture from rain to wash off the acids and enzyme inhibitors so it can germinate and produce a plant. By soaking nuts and seeds before you eat them, you imitate nature by neutralizing these toxic growth inhibitors, releasing the natural enzymes and vitality within them.
These enzymes, in turn, increase the vitamin content of your nuts and seeds, especially the B vitamins. Soaking also removes phytates from the seeds, making them much easier to digest and enabling their many nutrients to be more easily absorbed by your body.
Because of these benefits, salt-water soaking and then drying or slow-roasting nuts and seeds until they are crispy and delicious has been a traditional method of preparing them for thousands of years. (See Why You Should Soak Nuts and Seeds for more information.)
This recipe will show you how to make raw sunflower seed butter using traditional preparation methods that ensure maximum nutrition and digestibility.
Homemade sunflower seed butter takes a little time to make, but it is very, very easy to do, and significantly cheaper than buying it in the store.
- 4 cups raw sunflower seed kernels (no shell)
- Pure water
- 1-2 Tbsp. sunflower seed oil, almond oil or refined coconut oil (NOT virgin, you don't want your sunbutter to taste like coconut!)
- Sea salt
- Honey, Rapadura sugar, maple syrup or stevia (Optional)
- Dash of cinnamon or vanilla (Optional)
- Put sunflower seeds into a half gallon mason jar or other container. Add 1 tablespoon of sea salt. Fill with water to the top of the jar. Swirl the water around to dissolve the salt.
- Let the seeds sit in the jar in a warm place in your home overnight, or for about 8 hours.
- Drain and rinse the seeds and spread them in a single layer on a dehydrator tray.
- Dehydrate at 100 to 115 degrees F until crispy. Check by taste to make sure they are crunchy and free of moisture. This usually takes about 24 hours, depending on dehydrator and other conditions, etc. (Drying your seeds below 115 degrees keeps all the enzymes and fragile vitamins intact.)
- Put crispy, dehydrated seeds into your food processor and process into a finely ground meal.
- Keep processing until the meal starts to release its oil and come together into a ball. This can take at least 10 minutes. You will probably need to scrape down the sides of the processor a few times to help it along. You might even need to stop the processor and let it cool down a few times.
- Continue processing so the ball comes together and falls apart several times as the oils are released by the heat and friction of the processor. Add a little oil to help this process go faster, if needed.
- Once the butter is smooth and creamy, mix in salt, sweetener and cinnamon or vanilla, to taste.
- Store in a Mason jar in the fridge.
- Enjoy anywhere you would use nut butter!
- Food processor
- Dehydrator (This is the one I use.) If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can use the sun during sunny months. Set out a tray full of soaked seeds in full sunlight and cover with a light cloth to keep out dust and bugs. (It might take a few days to get them fully dry; bring them in at night.) You can also use an oven set on the lowest setting, but this is not ideal because it will kill some of the enzymes present in the seeds.