Acorns- Nature's Gourmet
A Backyard Feast: Fool Proof Foraging
When Autumn arrives, anyone with oak trees in their yard knows what a prodigious lot of acorns one tree can produce. They fall by the bucket-full, are difficult to rake and generally make an awful mess. What many people do not know, however, is that these troublesome nuts can be prepared into a wonderful, nutritious food. In fact, they were once a staple to many Native American tribes. There are several different methods for processing them, but here is the way I prefer the most.
Acorns contain a bitter substance known as tannic acid, which must be leached out before the nuts can be eaten. The acorns from the white oak varieties (leaves have smooth, round lobes) have much less than those from the black or red oaks (leaves have sharp, spiny lobes) and are easier to prepare.
First of all, gather nuts as soon as they fall from the tree. There are lots of bugs that like to eat them and they also quickly rot. Toss out any acorns with major holes in the side. Next, rinse the acorns in a colander.
To shell them, slice in half with a knife and pop the nutmeat out of each half. Cut off any bad spots. The nuts quickly become discolored like peeled apples when exposed to the air, so do small batches at a time. When you have shelled 1 or 2 cups, place meats in the blender and cover with water. Blend on a lower speed, finely chopping them.
Line a colander with muslin or fine cheesecloth, or use a large, fine strainer. Pour blended nuts into colander and rinse well, until the water runs through clear. Place strained nuts in a saucepan and cover generously with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a gentle boil for 15 minutes. Strain and rinse again. Taste the nuts, and if they are still better, return to saucepan and boil for another 15 minutes. Repeat this as many times as necessary. I have found that I only need 1 or 2 boils before they are ready to eat.
These acorns can be added to just about any bread. I like to use them in waffles, pancakes, banana bread and boston brown bread. They add a delicious flavor resembling the taste of maple syrup, but with a distinct oakiness like that of fermented beverages aged in oaken casks (tawny port, sherry and bourbon). Use prepared nuts right away or freeze. And congratulate yourself. You have just made a huge step toward making foraging a sustainable alternative to the mass marketed, processed stuff people call food these days.
More Foraging Sites
- School of Self-reliance\'s Wild Food Foraging Acorn Page
the acorn is an excellent food-source. Christopher Nyerges teaches people how to find acorns, leach them, and use them in cooking
- Eat The Weeds (and other things, too)
Hundreds of edible wild plants
- Prodigal Gardens-Homepage
How to gather and prepare wild foods, including acorns
- Foraging with the Wildman
Learn about edible wild plants.