You might already be familiar with the various benefits of sunflower seeds. But did you know the shells of these seeds are equally beneficial? In order to utilize the shells/ hulls, shelling sunflower seeds in the right way is crucial.
So how to shell sunflower seeds without damaging them?
To shell sunflower seeds at home you need a Ziploc bag and a rolling pin. Put the seeds into the bag, and make a single layer by flattening the seeds using your hands. Now gently roll over the seeds using a rolling pin to shell out sunflower seeds without breaking them.
Removing shells can get taxing at times as the seeds are very tiny. In this article, I’ll show you an easy way to shell sunflower seeds at home. Additionally, I have mentioned some of the benefits and uses of sunflower shells, so make sure to run through them too.
Can You Eat Sunflower Seed Shells?
No, you should not eat sunflower seed shells. Sunflower shells are not only hard to chew, but they are very high in fiber which our bodies can’t digest.
While unshelled sunflower seeds are common in the market, you are not supposed to swallow them. The high fiber substances called cellulose and lignin don’t benefit our bodies. Eating sunflower seed shells may have other potential health risks as well.
Accidently chewing a tiny bite of the shell will not harm you but eating it in large amounts isn’t good for your health. Eating sunflower shells can cause constipation and may result in painful blockage.
These shells may collect in your small or large intestine and form a bezoar. Plus, you may experience intestinal pain and bowel impaction if you make eating whole sunflower seeds a habit.
A bowel impaction means a large amount of stool is stuck in your rectum, which may cause severe damage to your large intestine. The sharp edges of the shells can tear the esophagus or other places in the digestive tract as well.
Not only that, but the sharp edges of the sunflower shells can also scrape your throat.
Therefore, it’s best to spit out the sunflower hulls if you are eating whole seeds or remove the shells before eating them.
Can Animals Eat Sunflower Shells?
Yes, animals can eat sunflower shells. Shells make a nutritious feed for animals like cattle and sheep. But again, you cannot feed animals, only the shells but have to mix them in the roughage.
Roughage is a mix of whole grains, seeds, nuts, hulls, and vegetables. Sunflower hulls or shells are not very high in protein, but the high fiber content, carbs, and less sugar make it a good addition to roughage which has other ingredients with enough nutrition.
The shells absorb other liquid ingredients, so it helps keep your livestock full for longer durations. But you must grind the hulls before adding them to the roughage. The sharp edges of the shells are harmful to the animals, so grounding them into a fine powder is necessary.
Advantages of Shelling Sunflower Seeds
Eating whole sunflower seeds has never been the right choice. As also stated above, the shells are harmful to our bodies, so getting rid of them before chewing the seeds is important. Mentioned below are some of the most basic yet most important advantages of shelling sunflower seeds-
1. Easy to Consume
Shelling makes consuming sunflower seeds easier. The hard shells are difficult to bite and might hurt your gums. Also, shelling sunflower seeds in your mouth isn’t the best option. You can get cuts through the sharp edges, so it’s best to shell them beforehand.
2. Improves Shelf Life
Shelling sunflower seeds also improves their shelf life. Storing the seeds with shells may make them moldy. Plus, storing the seeds with hulls may welcome insects or termites that love chewing these hard shells.
Keep shelled sunflower seeds in an airtight bag to preserve them in the best condition. Roasting the seeds before storing them will increase the shelf life even longer.
3. Shelling Prevents The Risk Of Puncturing Your Digestive Tract
Eating whole sunflower seeds has the risk of puncturing your digestive tract. But with the hulls removed, the seeds become easier to chew without any such risks. Peeled sunflower seeds are soft and crunchy, so you can easily bite them without tiring your gums.
How to Shell Sunflower Seeds Quickly – 5 Ways
Here are five easy steps you need to follow for shelling sunflower seeds:
1. Dry The Seeds
Dry the sunflower seeds well under the sun. If you are short of time, you can roast the seeds as well. Damp seeds make shelling difficult so drying them is a must.
2. Use A Pestle and Mortar
Take about half a cup of seeds into a mortar. Now using the pestle, roll the seeds against the walls of the mortar. Make sure not to pound the seeds as it will crush them, and the shells will be of no use then. Keep rolling until you see the seeds coming out of the shells. It may take around 5 to 10 minutes.
3. Air Blow The Shells
Once you finish rolling all the sunflower seeds, spread the seeds in a tray and air blow the seeds to separate the hulls from the seeds.
4. Separate The Seeds & Shells
You can now pick the shelled seeds and keep them in a separate tray or container. If you still find some unpeeled seeds, put them back into the mortar and roll again.
5. Store The Seeds In An Airtight Container
Now you can store the freshly shelled sunflower seeds in an airtight container. The seeds will remain crunchy for longer durations if you preserve them without the shells.
Various Uses of Sunflower Shells
Even though sunflower shells are not edible, they have other excellent usages. Let’s take a look at some of these:
1. Sunflower Shells As Animal Feed
Sunflower seeds have a very high fiber content, making them a great animal feed, especially for cattle. You can mix ground sunflower shells in roughage and let your cattle have this high fiber and high carb food.
2. Construction Material Made From Shells
These hard sunflower shells are also used as construction material. Manufacturers have now started using the shells to make a natural fiber wood paneling called Dakota Burl. It’s a sustainable alternative to other wood paneling since sunflower hulls are renewable and are made from recycled waste.
3. Fuel From Sunflower Shells
Sunflower shells or hulls are a good fuel source as well. People use it as wood fuel for cooking either alone or with other organic waste materials like coconut shells, sawdust, straw, etc.
4. Use Shells As Mulch
Sunflower seed shells produce a chemical that inhibits the growth of surrounding plants. This property makes these shells great for use as mulch in gardens, walkways, and paths to prevent the growth of weeds.
If you are bothered by the growth of weeds in your flower garden, gather some sunflower shells and spread them around the plants.
5. Use It As A Tea Or Coffee Substitute
You can use ground sunflower seed shells as a tea or coffee substitute. Roast the shells slightly and make a fine powder in the grinder. Add one tablespoon of shell powder to one cup of hot water to make this unique tea.
Q1: Are Sunflower Seed Shells bad for the Environment?
Yes, sunflower seed shells are bad for the environment. The shells contain a toxin that may inhibit the growth of other plants when they fall on the ground.
Q2: Do you have to Shell Sunflower Seeds before Planting?
No, you don’t necessarily have to shell sunflower seeds before planting. But the seeds without shells tend to sprout more quickly.
Q3: How does a Sunflower Seed Dehuller Work?
A sunflower dehuller at first gets rid of all impurities like stone, glass, hair, etc. Then it removes the shell from the seeds and finally separates the shells from the seeds.
Q4: Are Sunflower Seed Shells Poisonous?
No sunflower seed shells aren’t poisonous, but they aren’t edible for humans. If you do, you may experience serious health issues.
Q5: Are Sunflower Seed Shells made of Wood?
No, sunflower seed shells aren’t made of wood. They are made of a substance called cellulose that takes time to decompose.
Did you get your answer on how to shell sunflower seeds? The hulls have numerous uses and benefits; hence knowing the correct way to shell these are vital. If these get ruined during the removal process, the shells will no longer be useful, so make sure you use appropriate means.
If you’ve any questions related to sunflower seeds or shells, let me know in the comments. I’ll be happy to help!
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