Seeds are part of a healthy diet, but the Virginia Cooperative Extension explains that they are even healthier once they sprout. Sunflower seeds only require a short germination period, which means that you can have a refrigerator full of healthy sprouted snacks in a matter of days. While there are a variety of ways to grow sprouts, cotton wool may be the most versatile. Not only does the cotton wool work as a medium for germination, it is also inexpensive.
Place a handful of unsalted, hulled sunflower seeds in a small bowl. Add just enough warm water to the bowl to cover the sunflower seeds. Allow the sunflower seeds to soak for 24 hours.
Dampen two 12-by-9-inch strips of cotton wool with warm water. Lay one of the strips of cotton wool flat on a 12-by-9-inch baking tray.
Remove the sunflower seeds from their soak and spread them over the damp cotton wool. Arrange the sunflower seeds in a single layer. Lay the second strip of cotton wool over the sunflower seeds.
Place the baking tray in an area that receives bright, indirect sunlight. Check the cotton wool daily for moisture. Mist the cotton wool with warm water from a spray bottle to keep it moist, if necessary.
Continue to provide bright light and moist cotton wool as the sunflower seeds sprout, which should take between one to two days. Sunflower seed sprouts are edible at any stage of growth.
If you cannot find hulled sunflower seeds, you can remove their shells yourself. Crack the shells between your upper and lower front teeth, revealing the seed or place them in a blender and set to pulse for 30 seconds. The blender should loosen the shells, making the seeds easier to remove. Taste the sunflower seed sprouts at different stages of growth. Small sprouts are crunchy, while large ones are soft. Once removed from the cotton wool, sunflower sprouts will keep in the refrigerator for approximately one week stored in an airtight container.
Do not use shelled sunflower seeds for cotton wool germination. Do not place germinating sunflower seeds in direct sunlight.