Agri Business

Sunseed processing

G. Chandrashekar | Updated on March 20, 2011

One of the nine major cultivated oilseeds in our country, sunflowerseed offers an excellent oil bearing raw material for a variety of treatments including extraction of oil and as processed edible kernel of high nutritional value. However, it is generally perceived and traded as an oilseed with high oil content – well over 40 per cent and used as such.

Edible kernel

In developed markets such as the US, sunseed is also processed and consumed as edible kernel. The variety of sunseed used for direct edible purpose (striped seed, bold size) is different from the one that goes for oil extraction (black). Although the international market for sunflowerseed is relatively large, that for edible grade, processed sunseed is limited. More commonly they are eaten as a healthy snack than as part of a meal. They can be used as garnishes or ingredient in various recipes.

Harvested sunseed is in the shell and the kernel inside is removed through a process of shelling or dehulling in a huller machine. After dehulling, the kernel can be sprouted and eaten in salads.

Application of dehulled sunseed included use on bread and similar baked foods for enhancing flavour. It is possible to extract butter out of sunseed because of its high oil content and sunseed butter is used like peanut butter. In India, sunseed processing for edible purpose is yet to take roots as it is primarily traded for oil extraction. Unfortunately, sunseed production in recent years has been on a declining trend. From 14.6 lakh tonnes in 2007-08, output has steadily fallen and has actually halved to 7.0 lakh tonnes in 2010-11, according to the Ministry of Agriculture data.

nutritional value

Nutritional values of sunflower seed include linoleic acid (an essential fatty acid). It is also an excellent source of dietary fibre in addition to containing cholesterol-lowering phytosterols. Sun oil can be used for cooking in refined form or can be converted into polyunsaturated margarine.

Published on March 20, 2011

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