Culinary News

Tip To Tail: Sunflower

Tip To Tail: Sunflower

When you buy sunflowers at the farmers market, you probably do little more than pop them into a vase for table decoration. If we think about sunflowers as food, most of us don’t go far beyond sunflower seeds, the classic snack. But, perhaps surprisingly, sunflowers actually have 8 different edible parts that can be used in a wide range of culinary applications. Most obviously, sunflower seeds — which come from the center of the flower — make an excellent snack; their kernels can be used as a salad garnish or a substitute for pine nuts in pesto. Sunflower oil, the plant’s second-most-common culinary use, is pressed from the seeds. It makes a great oil for frying due to its mild flavor and high smoke point. Sunflower petals have a bitter taste, so they’re best as a salad garnish blended with other produce. The young flower’s blossom or bud has a taste and texture similar to a tiny globe artichoke, its relative in the Asteracaegenus. And, much like its artichoke kin, the neck of the sunflower forms a tender heart. The plant’s stalk has a crunchy, watery texture reminiscent of celery. Here is a breakdown of all of the edible parts of the sunflower with a brief description of their best use: (click on the links for more information) Sunflower Seeds/Kernels — Snack, garnish, salad, pesto Sunflower Oil — Salad dressings/vinaigrettes, pesto, frying, sautéing fish Sunflower Petal — Garnish, salad Sunflower Leaves — Salad, pesto Sunflower Stems/Stalks — Salad, stir-fry Sunflower Sprouts — Salad, garnish Sunflower Bud — Similar to Artichoke Heart, use as a vegetable side dish Sunflower Heart — Similar to Artichoke Heart, use as a vegetable side dish, or in pasta or risotto  

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