Sunflowers are bright and cheery ornamental plants that can make any room feel homey. But did you know that when it comes to prepping, sunflowers also have various survival uses? (h/t to Survivopedia.com.)
When SHTF, sunflowers are a renewable source of materials that can be used as food and different herbal cures.
How to make sunflower oil
If you have sunflowers in your yard or garden, you can make cooking oil, a crucial supply to have when SHTF. You can use other resources like corn to make oil, but sunflower oil is better for your overall health.
Depending on the seed type, you need about three to six good-sized heads of sunflower seeds to make a cup of oil. Compared to conventional sunflower seeds, black oil sunflower seeds will give you almost twice as much oil. (Related: Survival gardening: Why you should grow these 7 edible perennials.)
Below is a basic recipe for sunflower oil.
- Sunflower seeds (from three to six sunflower heads)
- Cold water
- Oil press
- Oven (optional)
- Plastic bag or cloth
- Rolling pin
- Remove the hulls from the sunflower seeds. You can do this quickly using a low-tech method. First, take half a cup of sunflower seeds then spread them out in a single layer on a flat surface. If you have limited room, put the seeds in a plastic bag or cover them with the cloth.
- Run a rolling pin over the seeds until the hulls crack.
- Put the seeds into the bowl of cold water. The hulls are less dense than water so they will float, while the kernels will drop to the bottom.
- Gather the hulls from the bowl, then drain the water. Keep the hulls. You can grind them up and use them for other purposes.
- Take the sunflower kernels and grind them up to make a fine paste. Don’t add water.
- As the seeds are mashed, they’ll start releasing liquid. During this stage, you need to run the mash through an oil press to get the best tasting “cold-pressed oil.”
If you want to get more oil from the seeds, roast the seeds for 20 minutes in the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir the seeds every five minutes. Heating will release more oil from the sunflower seeds than running them cold through a press, but the oil won’t taste as good.
Sunflower oil from roasted seeds won’t be suitable for cooking, but you can still use the oil as a food additive and for other purposes. Experiment with lower temperatures to see if they work better with different seed strains.
Take note that growing conditions will affect oil production. If the growing season or conditions are very dry, or nutrients are limited, the sunflowers you cultivate will have seeds that produce less oil.
Once the seeds are heated up, run them through a strainer to obtain the oil. Alternatively, you can run the seeds through an oil press.
If you prefer using a strainer, some oil may remain in the mash. Store the mash in the freezer, then thaw it out and press the oil from it as needed. You can keep sunflower oil in the refrigerator for around a month.
As for your oil press, a cheaper hand-crank press can produce at least one and a half cups of oil after 20 minutes of fast cranking. This is the best option that doesn’t require electricity. For those who want to make more oil faster, invest in a motorized oil press.
Sunflowers as herbal remedies
Sunflowers have vitamin A and E. They also contain protein and selenium. Vitamin E and selenium function as antioxidants that protect the body’s cells against free radical damage, which are linked to various chronic diseases. Sunflower seeds are full of beneficial plant compounds, like flavonoids and phenolic acids, that also act as antioxidants.
The different parts of a sunflower plant can be used to make various herbal remedies.
- Leaves – Tea made from sunflower leaves is used to treat fevers and lung ailments. The tea can also help treat malaria when SHTF and the pharmacies are closed. Sunflower tea made from leaves is also a diuretic and expectorant. Additionally, the leaves can be used to make poultices for treating insect and snake bites. The poultices can hasten healing since they contain astringent chemicals.
- Petals – Tea made from sunflower petals can ease sore throats and inflammation. Dried and fresh leaves will have different potencies, so read up the appropriate tea recipes
- Roots – Sunflower roots can be used to make a wash or soaking rinse for arthritis and aching joints.
- Seeds – Boiled sunflower seeds can be combined with alcohol and water to make a tonic for colds, coughs, and lung irritation. The seeds can also be used to make a tea that can help relieve breathing-related and lung ailments. Sunflower oil made from seeds also works as a carrier for other essential oils. You can use the final product as bath and massage oils.
Sunflowers are versatile plants that produce edible parts. Adding this useful flowering plant to your garden can help complement your survival stockpile.
Visit Preparedness.news to learn more about the various prepping uses of sunflowers and other useful plants that can help you survive when SHTF.