What is Sunflower and How Do You Use It?

FR: Girasol, Helianth annuel, Soleil, Tournesol GER: Sonnenblume IT: Girasole

SP: Girasol, Helianto, Mirasol BOT: Helianthus annuus FAM: Compositae

Probably sunflowers came originally from Peru, but they have been cultivated for so long that their origin is in doubt. They are grown as a crop, particularly in Russia, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania, as well as in the Argentina and Africa. The seeds contain some forty per cent of oil which has become well known of late because it is a highly ‘unsaturated’ oil and so is considered possibly to provide some protection against arterial disease. The oil is fine, almost tasteless and of a light yellow colour. It is excellent as a cooking and salad oil. The buds of the sunflower may be used in salads and the seeds roasted in their husks, salted and eaten by the handful like peanuts.

What is Sunflower and How Do You Use It? Photo Gallery


Although a few salts of metals (such as lead and beryllium), and some synthetic substances (such as saccharin) have a sweet taste, we normally associate sweetness with sugars, either refined or in sweet fruits and honey. In nature, sweetness is usually associated with ripe fruit, because sugars are formed in the fruits as they ripen. Sweetness is a true taste, as it is detected in the mouth and not in the nose, and is particularly liked by most animals, children, and often again by old people.

The perfect adjustment of sweetness is as important as any other operation in cooking, although it is often neglected due to the ease with which extra sugar can be added at table. In sweetening dishes it is as well to remember that while salty and bitter tastes are more pronounced in cold than in hot dishes, with sweetness and sourness the converse is true. In dishes such as jellies which are tasted for flavour when hot, a slight over-sweetness is necessary so that they will be correct when cold. Ices must taste very sweet before they are frozen.

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