(SurvivalDaily.com) – On your list of useful things in a survival situation, acorns probably don’t rank very high, or maybe not at all. The truth is, there is more reason to consider acorns as valuable assets than many give them credit for.
There are more than 600 species of oak growing around the globe, all of which produce edible acorns. Before you can use them as a food source, however, you have to know how to harvest them.
The first step to harvesting acorns is being able to identify oak trees. Oak trees have a very distinguishable leaf pattern; use this to tell them from other species of oak. After you’ve done that, harvesting is simple, just pick the acorns up off the ground.
Of course, some oak trees provide better acorns than others. For example, Emory Oak trees produce mild acorns and don’t require any processing before you can eat them. On the other end of the spectrum, black oaks produce the most bitter acorns and require the most processing. The bitterness is caused by tannic acid, which can be removed by boiling them (more on that later).
Removing the Shell
After you’ve harvested acorns to your heart’s desire, you’ll need to separate the good from the bad. This can easily be done just about anywhere. All you need is a big bowl of water. Place the acorns in the water, if they sink they’re good. Bad ones instead, will float.
Once you’ve separated the good and bad, you’ll need to dry them out before removing the shell. This process causes the nut inside to shrink, making the shelling process easier. Drying can be completed by leaving the acorns in the sun for a few days. Cooking them at 150ºF for 15 minutes will also do the trick.
Shelling is a simple process. Green or younger acorns you can get into with a knife. For more mature acorns simply remove the cap (if it isn’t already), lay the flat-side down and hit the pointed end with a hammer. Sometimes, with longer nuts, you have to hit the side of the shell.
With Red Oak acorns the nut has a skin that is difficult to remove. To make it easier boil the acorns before shelling them. It’s important to shell them while they’re still hot; this way the skin will come off with the shell.
Just remember to put your acorn nuts in water after you shell them. This stops the nuts from oxidizing and allows for a more aesthetically pleasing acorn flour.
Removing the tannins found in acorns isn’t difficult. You just need to place the shelled nuts in water and bring to a boil. Once it begins to boil, pour the water off, add fresh water, and repeat until the water becomes clearer. It will start off dark.
The problem with this method is it removes starch found in acorns. The starch is much like the gluten found in wheat flour, which allows the flour to stick to itself. Water itself will remove the tannins, but it will take days rather than the hours it takes with heat added.
If you’re looking to remove the tannins to grind the acorns into flour, there is another method. You’ll need to grind the acorns into flour first. Then mix in a jar with water at a ratio of 1:3. Place the jar in the fridge. Every 12 hours you’ll need to empty the water and replace it with new, shaking the jar every day. After about one-two weeks you will have successfully removed the tannins.
Once the tannins are removed you need to dry the acorn flour or nuts out. Placing them on a baking sheet in the sun is a great method; it’s not always an option though. Using a dehydrator works too, and you won’t lose any nutrients. Another method is placing them in the oven on its lowest setting. After you’ve dried the flour or nuts you’ll need to refrigerate them. Freezing is permissible, but they will need to be kept cool as they will go rancid quickly.
Foods You Can Make
It’s truly surprising that acorns are not commonly used in our daily lives. They can be used in a variety of things. You can roast the nuts and eat them just like that, or you can grind those same roasted nuts into a meal and use them to replace coffee. If you love your coffee you can always add the meal to your existing grounds, giving your cup of Joe a nutty flavor. Just like any other nut, you can grind acorns into nut butter too.
The great thing about acorns is they’re readily available, and typically found in abundance. Making knowledge of how to harvest, process, and cook them is a great thing to have; especially if SHTF.
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