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Dissecting the sunflower:

Dissecting the sunflower: Helianthus annuus

As the spring has now finally arrived in Berlin and I started planting the first plants and flowers for the summer I thought this plant, which is usually just known for its ornamental value should also get more attention for its culinary value. Of course, everyone knows that the seeds can be eaten, but did you know about the other edible parts of the sunflower? No? So, let me show you.

The first shouts can be picked and eaten fresh like sprouts in a salad. Later in the early summer, the young stems can be cut into pieces and just have to be slightly fried or cooked till they are tender or and can then be eaten as a vegetable or added to a salat. The stems have a celery-like taste and can, therefore, be used as a crunchy substitute. They are also nice when pickled and can also be candied like angelica if you prefer something sweet.

Besides the stems, also the leaves have a slight celery taste and can be eaten raw like a salad when they are young or cooked like a spinach. The older leaves in late summer can be eaten as well, but then you should remove the tough leave stems and maybe cook them instead of eating them raw.

Besides the stem and the leaves also the young buds can be used. They have an artichoke-like taste.

To prepare them you just have to remove the outer harder pedals, which are darker and very bitter before steaming or cooking them. You should use the buds when they are still closed and green. Then you have an easy and local substitute for an artichoke in your dishes.

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