acorns

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HOW TO USE ACORNS FOR FOOD AND BREAD There are many species of oak trees. Oak trees are found throughout. They prefer open woods and bottom land. Normally, they are divided into two major groups:

Red Oak - The red oaks have deeply scalloped leaves with very pointed tips. The acorns from the red oak are very bitter. The acorns require two growing seasons to mature, have a hairy lining on the inside of the shell, and the nutmeats are yellow in color. Red oaks are also members of the black oak family.

(Photo: Oak Trees - Quercus spp. Provide Acorns Rich in Protein and Oils)

White Oak - The white oak also has leaves with deep scallops, but the tips are rounded. The acorns of the white oak are less bitter than those of the red oak, and they require only one growing season. The inner portion of the white oak acorn shell is smooth, and the nutmeat is white in color. The chestnut oak is considered part of the white oak classification.

NUTS:

The nuts are gathered during the fall from September to October. When processed properly, acorns have a pleasant nutty flavor. Acorns are an excellent source of energy, protein, carbohydrate, and calcium. When collecting acorns, one should not be surprised that many of them must be discarded due to insects or mold, so more should be collected than are needed. If you spread a sheet of plastic under the tree and use only those acorns that fall within a one-day period, this seems to reduce bug infestation, an especially important problem for acorns that are to be stored in their shell. The ripe tan-to-brown acorns, rather than the unripe green ones, should be gathered.

The bitterness in acorns is caused by tannic acid which is water soluble. To remove this unpleasant taste, shell the brown, ripe acorns and remove any corky skin layers, dice the meat; and boil the chunks in water from 15 to 30 minutes until the water turns brown. Then pour off the water and repeat the process until the water clears, indicating that the tannic acid has been removed. Periodically taste a bit of the acorns until you no longer detect any bitterness. (Native Americans would let the crushed acorn meat soak in a fast-moving, clean stream for several weeks to remove the bitterness.) During the last boiling, salt water can be added; then the acorns can be deep fried or mixed in a soup. Also, finely chopped acorn meats can be added to bread and muffins, or the soft acorn nut can be added as a protein booster to cooked greens. After the leaching process, acorn meat can be frozen.

To make flour, the boiled acorn meat can be split in two and dried by slowly baking in a 200 degree oven with the door cracked to allow moisture to escape. Or, they can be dried in the sun. They are then crushed or ground and used as a thickener or as flour. Another method is to roast the fresh acorns to work well in a grinder or blender. After grinding, the course flour is placed into a cloth bag and boiled to leach out the tannic acid.

Acorn flour can be used alone to make an acorn bread, but it is not very pleasing to most tastes. Acorn flour is more palatable when mixed with wheat flour or corn meal-one part acorn meal mixed with four parts corn meal for corn bread, or one to four parts wheat for bread. The acorn meal can also be heated in water to make a nutritious mush. Or add enough water to make a thick batter. Add a dash of salt and sweetener to improve the taste. Allow the batter to stand for an hour (or until thick) then pat into pancakes and cook or twist and bake on an open fire.

The leached acorns, after they are roasted until brittle, can be ground and used as a marginal coffee substitute.

In their shell, the dried acorns will store for a time. Some Native Americans stored acorns for several years in bags buried in boggy areas.

CAUTION: In the identification and use of wild edibles as a food and herbal healing source, care and attention to details should be exercised, as some plants are toxic. Always use several field guides to insure proper identification. Better yet, you should be trained by and expert.

The above information was condensed from my book God's Free Harvest - Successful Harvesting Nature's Free Foods.

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-- Anonymous, March 15, 2001

Answers

Acorns

Gathering from oaks Shelling with rocks Grinding in a hole of a boulder Sift with shallow basket Lay down leaves on sand Boil water with hot rocks Put acorn meal on leaves Pour hot water over meal Let dry in the sun Ration meal huts for winter The process of turning acorns into meal starts by going out into the oak groves in the fall and harvesting the acorns. Turning the acorns into meal is not easy. It often takes the entire village to find and gather them. Adding to the problem is the fact that oak trees produce good harvest every four or five years.

Once the Chumash find a sufficient amount of acorns, they crack them one at a time to check for worms using a hammer stone. This same tool is used to grind the acorns once they have been removed from their shell. Then, when it is fine enough, they sift it through a basket and remove any unrefined pieces. They then lay leaves down on hot sand and spread the acorn meal all over the leaves.

Water was boiled using hot rocks and poured on top of the acorn meal. They do this to get rid of the tannic acid which can cause stomach problems. A bitter taste to the acorn meal indicates that there is still some tannic acid left, and that it must be removed. The rinse water is a milky white color until all the tannic acid has rinsed off. The water will run clear when it is thoroughly cleaned. This is known as the leaching process.

The Chumash allow the meal to dry in the sun for a while and the process ends by placing the acorn meal into tightly woven baskets and storing it in huts for the winter. A healthy gruel, or oatmeal type food, was made from the ground acorn meal. It could also be made into flat cakes and cooked on a steatite comal over a fire.

The whole village would be involved in gathering the acorns during the fall season. Granaries were used to store unshelled acorns until it was time to grind them. Coastal Live Oaks could drop as many as several hundred pounds of acorn nuts.

The age of manos and pestles that are found today help date the site of grinding activity. Manos were used as long ago as 3000 years. The pestle shape evolved about 1500 years ago. Often, large groups of manos or pestles are found near grinding sites. It is thought that this was because they were too heavy to carry back to the village. Grinding sites were usually conveniently located near running water to assist in the leaching process. Each woman maintained her own work site even though there was no ownership of the land.

This healthy flour formed the base of nutrition in the Santa Susanna area. The Chumash and Gabrielino did not farm, but gathered and hunted fresh food to accompany their acorn based diet.

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-- Anonymous, March 15, 2001


SUGARED (HONEYED) ACORNS Use either sugar or honey for a sweet acorn treat. Dip the acorn meats (which have been leached and dried as described above) into boiling syrup or a 2:1 sugar to water solution. Thoroughly dry them on a greased pan. These will keep pretty well in a tin or glass jar and make nice holiday treats or gifts.

ACORN BREAD This holiday black bread must become a tradition in any house where it has once been tried! Mix a cup of the ground acorn meal with 3 teaspoons. of baking powder, a tsp of salt, 3 tablespoons of sugar or honey, and a cup of white flour. Separately, to a beaten egg add a cup of milk and 3 tablespoons of oil. Stir this gently into the dry mix, then pour into a well-greased pan. Bake your dough at 400F for 30 minutes. Top with butter when it comes out of the oven. Serve anytime, but there exists no flavor quite like hot, homemade bread! NOTE: Pour the dough about 2/3 deep in muffin tins for some tasty muffins. Bake them for 20 minutes and serve them with elderberry or dewberry jelly (if you still have any!).

PANCAKES! Mix half a cup of white flour with a cup of acorn meal, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, and teaspoon of salt. Separately mix a beaten egg with 1 cups of milk and 3 tablespoon of oil. Pour just enough liquid into the flour mix to make a good batter. Spoon the batter into a greased frying pan. Fry till golden, flipping once. Top your pancakes with your favorite syrup and serve hot!

-- Anonymous, March 15, 2001


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Pecans and Acorns for sale

The following are prices for bags of pecans and acorns I have collected on the University of Florida campus. These are great for pet or wild squirrels. The pecans are great for human consumption as well. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Item Cost Shipping Total Bag w/ 100 pecans and 60 acorns: $3.00 $3.00 $6.00 Bag w/ 100 pecans and no acorns: $2.35 $2.65 $5.00 Bag w/ 50 pecans and 30 acorns: $1.50 $2.50 $4.00 Bag w/ 50 pecans and no acorns: $1.20 $1.80 $3.00

Send cash, check, or money order to: Andrew Watts 111 Tolbert Hall Gainesville, FL 32612

-- Anonymous, March 15, 2001


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