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Food Foraging: The Acorn

Food Foraging: The Acorn

Why? Because it's Thanksgiving.

acorn Acorns aren't just for chipmunks. They were a longtime staple for Native Americans and early settlers alike.

In the northeast—heck, throughout North and South America—autumn’s falling acorns are akin to April showers and May flowers. You may remember collecting them for fun as a kid, using them as ammunition to throw at your siblings or watching squirrels run off with a bundle of them in each cheek.

Today we eat peanuts, pine nuts, pistachios, almonds, cashews—even chestnuts. Why not acorns? Acorns were actually major players in the diet and trading stock of almost every Native American culture. They taught early settlers to use acorn meal as flour (it’s a much healthier alternative, as it turns out) and it was a staple in the historical American Indian pemmican: the original power bar.

First of all, the health benefits in these little guys rival that of any other nut. And on top of keeping blood sugar levels down and providing tons of complex carbs and protein, the fact that you’ll have to venture out for a good walk and gather them makes harvesting acorns for food a benefit to your fitness, as well.

Oaks of all kind, including Texas, Emory, white oak, produce the least bitter tasting acorns. And to do away with that bitter tannins taste, acorn-gatherers need to dry them out (in the sun like the old days or slowly in an oven), shell them like any other nut, boil the tannic acid right out of them for a couple of hours and dry them out again.  

They can be used in many acorn recipes: stews, breads and even in acorn pasta.

Dare to be different, try the acorn.

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