By Tess Pennington | Ready Nutrition
In a long-lived emergency, our food stores can quickly be depleted. If this occurs, we must rely on our knowledge of native food sources growing wild in our area. One such wild edible is found in great abundance in many parts of the country and is a food source that is long forgotten. We are talking about the acorn.
Acorns can easily serve as an efficient way of pulling together a large amount of food. Many indigenous tribes and groups from around the world have utilized the acorn for its ability to give us nutrition and sustenance. In fact, it is estimated that in some regions of California, where the natives used them, fifty percent of their yearly caloric intake came from the humble acorn.
Acorns Serve Multiple SHTF Purposes
Native Indians used acorns as a huge source of their nutrition. As well, acorns should be looked at as a staple foods and can replace our dependence on corn and wheat. Acorns of white and black oak trees are readily available in many parts of the country and have a wide variety of uses.
- Acorns can be used to make a variety of different foods sources ranging from coffee, flour, soup thickeners, alternatives for oatmeal or just eating the nuts as a protein source.
- The vegetable oils in acorns are comparable to olives, corn and soybeans and can be used as a cooking oil or biofuel source.
- The nut meal can be used as animal fodder after the acorns have been shelled and ground.
- The shells can be used as a heat source, garden mulch, or added to the compost pile.
- Acorns are a complete protein and nutrition source.
- Acorns possess many medicinal properties.
- Acorns can be scattered around an area to lure wild game for additional food sources.
Health Benefits of Acorns
- Help control blood sugar levels.
- High in complex carbohydrates.
- Lower in fat compared to other nuts.
- Rich in vitamins B12, B6, folate riboflavin, thiamin and niacin.
- Good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, sodium, copper and zinc.
- Good source of fiber and protein.
Medicinal Benefits of Acorns
The water used to remove the tannins in the boiling process from acorns can be saved and refrigerated to use for various medicinal applications. Over time, it will develop mold on the surface. Before using, bring it back to a boil which will kill the mold and continue to refrigerate for future uses.
- Sooth skin rashes, burns, and small cuts
- Use externally to help treat hemorrhoids
- Soothes and heals the blisters and helps reduce the itching
- Brown water ice cubes helps to soothe inflamed tissues
- Use as a gargle to soothe your sore throat
- A mild tea can be made to reduce symptoms of diarrhea
Important Points to Consider When Harvesting Acorns
- The amount of tannins present in the acorn can play a role in the taste factor. Like most nuts, lightly toasting them in an oven can help the taste improve. Toast on a cookie sheet in an oven at 175° F. Stir acorns around to prevent scorching. Tannic acid is water-soluble and can be removed by boiling or flushing them out.
- Collect healthy acorns that have right type of kernel. Avoid acorns that are still firmly attached to the cap were shed early and are defective. As well, acorns that have streaks indicate a fungus is present. Also acorns that have holes had an acorn weevil present in the acorn and should not be eaten. Throw out any acorns that have already begun to germinate.
- Investing in a durable hand crank type grain mill and oil expeller would be beneficial in extracting the meat and oils of the acorn.
If you have access to a running stream, to save on time and energy, some have added their acorns to a mesh bag and secure it in a stream for two days to help naturally leach out the tannins. If you cannot do this method, see the following video for to learn how to effectively leach out tannins and make acorn meal and flour.
The acorn flavor is slightly nutty, very hearty and can last as long as regular flour, as long as it stays dry. Store your acorn flour in a cool, dry place.
Here are some great recipes to practice using acorn flour:
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon salad oil
- 1 teaspoon of honey or sugar
- 1/2 cup of ground and leached acorns (see video)
- 1/2 cup of cornmeal
- 1/2 cup of whole wheat or white flour
- 2 teaspoons of double action baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 cup of milk
Mix all ingredients together. If the batter is too thick to pour, thin it with milk. Pour pancakes into a hot, greased griddle and cook slowly until brown on both sides.
- 1 lb. lean stewing meat, cut quite small
- 1/2 cup dehydrated wild plums
- 1/2 cup acorn meal
Boil the lean stewing meat. When it is tender, drain and allow it to dry in a bowl. Grind all of the ingredients together in a meat grinder using a fine blade. Grind again, mixing finely, distributing the ingredients very well. Place in a covered dish and refrigerate overnight. (Or you can eat right away, but like many foods, the refrigerating allows the flavors to blend nicely.) You can serve this on any flatbread, such as a tortilla. It is best served warm, or you can reheat it in the pan in the oven like a meatloaf.
Cornmeal and Acorn Mush
- 4 cups water
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup acorn meal, ground
- 1 cup cornmeal
Bring salted water to a boil and sprinkle the acorn meal into the boiling water, stirring briskly with a wire or twig whisk. Then add the cornmeal. Add just enough cornmeal to make a thick, bubbling batch in which a wood spoon will stand up fairly well. Place the saucepan in a larger container holding two inches or more of boiling water. (Use a double boiler, if you have one.) Simmer the mush until quite thick, about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep it from lumping.
Cornmeal and acorn mush is very good for breakfast on a cold morning. It can be served with sweetened milk and a dab of wild fruit jam or homemade butter. But it is also great as a main course lunch or dinner. You can also add salsa or bacon bits and grated cheese on top to get great variety. This mush is very filling and will stick to your ribs.
Apache Acorn Cakes
- 1 cup acorn meal, ground fine
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1/4 cup honey
- pinch of salt
Mix the ingredients with enough warm water to make a moist, not sticky dough. Divide into 12 balls. Let rest, covered, for 10 minutes or so. With slightly moist hands, pat the balls down into thick tortilla-shaped breads. Bake on an ungreased cast iron griddle over campfire coals or on clean large rocks, propped up slightly before the coals. If using the stones, have them hot when you place the cakes on them. You’ll have to lightly peel an edge to peek and see if they are done. They will be slightly brown. Turn them over and bake on the other side, if necessary. Add butter, if necessary.
To conclude, the mighty oak tree is a symbol for strength, longevity and durability, and their seeds are no different. Understanding how underutilized this food source is can give you an upper-hand for a time when food may not be as readily available.
This article originally appeared on Ready Nutrition.