Know your greens - Picking the best sunflower shoots

sunflower shoots - elemental greens

With a nutty flavor and a crunchy texture, sunflower shoots are nothing short of awesome in sandwiches, soups, salads, scrambled eggs, and wraps. Both the leaves and the stems are edible.  But not all shoots are created equally; or rather, not all shoots are harvested equally.  Unlike other microgreens, the presence of true leaves (the first set of adult leaves) is not a desired quality with sunflower shoots.  Here's our guide to picking the best shoots:

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The shoot pictured above has grown two small true leaves (the larger leaves are the cotyledon).  At this stage, the true leaves have developed trichomes wihch are the peach-fuzz like hairs found on many plants.  Though these are edible, many folks don't like the mouthfeel.  Also, we find the whole plant begins to lose vibrant flavor.  It's best to avoid these.

sunflower shoots

The shoot seen above has just begun to grow it's first true leaves.  At this stage, the shoot still has all the flavors of the cotyledon and hypocotyl.  There should be no perceptible mouth feel of trichomes.  This is also the latest stage we consider viable for market.  We use a quality control process to make sure you get the best shoots every week.

sunflower shoots

This is what you want; the sweet stuff!  There are no signs of true leaves and these shoots have a nutty flavor through and through.  The pleasant crunch makes for great mouthfeel and we recommend using our shoots as a replacement for iceberg and romaine lettuces.  Or, pile on top of a salad with citrus based dressing for a taste of spring.

Enjoy!