About Sunflower seeds
Wikipedia Article About Sunflower seeds on Wikipedia
The sunflower seed is the seed of the sunflower (Helianthus annuus). The term "sunflower seed" is actually a misnomer when applied to the "seed" in its pericarp (hull). Botanically speaking, it is more properly referred to as an achene. When dehulled, the edible remainder is called the sunflower 'kernel'.
For commercial purposes, sunflower seeds are usually classified by the pattern on their husks. If the husk is solidly black, the seeds are called 'black oil sunflower seeds'. The crops may be referred to as 'oilseed sunflower' crops. These seeds are usually pressed into sunflower oil. Additionally, these seeds are generally considered the seed of choice for bird feeders.
If the husks are striped, the seeds are called 'striped sunflower seeds' or 'stripers'. Due to their lower oil content, the crops are called 'non-oilseed sunflower' crops. Striped sunflower seeds are primarily used for food; as a result, they may also be called 'confectionery' sunflower seed.
The showy sunflower, with its bright yellow petals radiating from a dark hub of seeds, can reach up to 12 inches in diameter. This tall, rangy plant is thought to be so named because its flowers resemble the sun, and because they twist on their stems to follow the sun throughout the day. Sunflowers were cultivated by the Indians of the Americas long before Europeans discovered them. Today, the Russians are one of the largest sunflower seed producers in the world. Though it's the state flower of Kansas, the largest United States sunflower producers are California, Minnesota and North Dakota. The seeds have a hard black-and-white striped shell that must be removed. Sunflower seeds can be dried or roasted (either in or out of the shell), and are sold either plain or salted. They can be eaten as a snack, used in salads or sandwiches or added to a variety of cooked dishes or baked goods. The iron-rich sunflower seeds are, by weight, 47 percent fat and 24 percent protein. The pale yellow, delicately flavored sunflower-seed off extracted from the seeds is very high in polyunsaturated fat and low in saturated fat. Though it has a relatively low smoke point, sunflower-seed oil is used in cooking as well as for salad dressings.