New Hampshire Home July-August 2023 - 57

GARDEN Rx
Sunflower Daze
The giant flowers are one of the most obvious-as well as the prettiest signs of mid-summer.
BRIGHT AND CHEERY, sunflowers
(Helianthus annuus) are the very essence
of summer. Even though we see the
sunflower used as a symbol of Ukraine,
it is a truly North American plant, native
to dry prairies from the Great Plains of
the U.S. and Canada, south to Mexico.
Spanish conquistadors introduced
sunflowers to Europe in the 16th century,
and Peter the Great is credited with
bringing them to Russia, where, by the
18th century, they were grown in abundance
for their oil.
Today sunflowers are an important
oilseed crop worldwide, with Ukraine
BY ROBIN SWEETSER
54 New Hampshire Home | July / August 2023
being the top producer and exporter
of the oil, supplying 46% of the global
market. Unfortunately, war has disrupted
planting and transportation, and
port blockades on the Black Sea have
impacted shipping. If you wonder why
your favorite chips have gone up in price
lately, blame the war in Ukraine. The U.S.
produces a relatively small amount of
sunflower oil, with the Dakotas yielding
the most.
Most commercial sunflower oil has a
low oleic acid content of around 20%, but
through selective breeding, varieties have
been developed that bring the number
up to a high of 80% oleic acid, making it
heart healthy. High-oleic sunflower oil is
lower in saturated fat than olive oil and
has more vitamin E than any other oil. Its
light color, neutral taste and high smoke
point make it popular with chefs and
snack food-makers. Did you know that
right here in New Hampshire there are
two farms producing high-quality, higholeic
sunflower oil? Both have Sunflower
Festivals this summer, so you can visit
the farms, walk the fields full of blossoming
flowers, buy a bouquet to take
home, and pick up a bottle of fresh local
sunflower oil.
PHOTO BY JOHN GISIS

New Hampshire Home July-August 2023

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