Food & Cooking… Which Acorns Taste the Best?

CreatespaceAcornsAndEat'emFRONTCOVERProbably one of the most frequent questions I get asked about eating acorns is, “Which acorns taste the best?” Now mind you, almost all acorns (without leaching) are bitter-tasting unpalatable little things. I recommend against putting them in your mouth. But leached acorns, that’s a different story. What I mean by leaching is; grinding and rinsing in water. But the deal with acorns is, you have to rinse them in water for a long time. The best way to do that is to grind them in the blender (with water) and then keep them in the refrigerator in the water for however long it takes to get the bitter tannic acid out. I have not tried acorns from all over the world. However, I have tried them from all over California and there are some bitter and not so bitter acorns. The leaching time ranges from one to four weeks. Because they are acidic and you are rinsing them, they won’t go bad in the refrigerator during the leaching process. The best tasting acorns I’ve ever had are the Tanoak acorns that grow along California’s coastal ranges and a little bit inland. I found a week was plenty of time to remove the tannic acid.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns. Find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Acorns-Eatem-How–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973

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Engaging Children in Nature During the Dark, Cold Days of Winter

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During the darkness of winter, it’s hard to think of ways to engage children. Especially in customs that promote a love of nature. What can you do? Do you have access to an oak tree? If so, you may be lucky enough to bag a few acorns and return home to leach them and bake cookies a few weeks from now. But if the acorns are gone, why not adopt a local oak tree and keep an eye on it? Through the seasons, the oak changes. Right now, its roots are being saturated by rain and/or snow, but in California, sometimes as early as February, the branches start to leaf out and later in the season, start producing pollen. In the summer, you’ll see little green acorns that turn to a beautiful brown in the fall and drop to the ground. After they drop, the forest animals come along. If your adopted oak is in a city park, those forest animals will be small; squirrels, mice, birds… but if you live in a rural area, those acorns will attract deer that attract mountain lions. They will attract large black crows, vultures and woodpeckers. They will attract coyotes, fox, ringtail and all matter of wildlife, including field rats. When you get home from surveying your adopted oak, make sure you point out any oak furniture. Teaching our children the value of the “great oak that was once just a little nut that held its ground,” will prepare your child for the hard task he or she has ahead… stewardship of the earth.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns. Find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Acorns-Eatem-How–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973

Food and Cooking… Toasted Acorns

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I gathered up a basket of beautiful, slender Valley Oak acorns last week. They’re easy to shell because the shell is thin. I didn’t wait for them to dry because I was concerned about worms eating them, but if I had, the dry acorns would have split by themselves, making it easy to remove the acorns. So for days, I stared at the white acorns lying in a bowl. They were so fresh, I wanted to let them dry a bit before I processed them. But every day I looked at that bowl and said, “I wonder what they would taste like if I toasted them in the oven before I leached them?” Almonds and sunflower seeds are tasty that way, why not acorns? I did it and I just turned the oven off. The shelled acorns are lying on a cookie sheet. When they cool, I’ll run them through the blender and begin the leaching process. It will be weeks before I’ll be cooking with them but I will be sure to let you know if toasted acorns are noticeably different. Stay tuned…

Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns. Find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Acorns-Eatem-How–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973

Watch the how-to video, Acorns and Eat’em www.youtube.com/watch?v=CG-5EDrHDhM

Do Acorns Predict What Sort of Winter We Will Have?

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Along the creek near my home in the Sierra Foothills, I stumbled across a healthy grove of California Valley Oak acorns. They are beautiful. And this year, they are prolific. I find this interesting, because Native American legend tells us that abundant acorn harvests predict a hard winter of rain and/or snow. This abundance comes at the same time weather forecasters are predicting an El Nino this winter for Southern and Central California.

Animals who depend on acorns are making a pilgrimage to these oak groves. When I see deer, wild turkey, squirrels and the biggest crows I’ve ever seen, descend on these caches, I’m reminded to take only what seems fair. If there aren’t many acorns under a tree, I leave them for my forest friends. If there are plenty, I’ll gather a quart. They need to be collected though because once the worms drill into them, they have a feast.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns. Find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Acorns-Eatem-How–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973

Watch the how-to video, Acorns and Eat’em www.youtube.com/watch?v=CG-5EDrHDhM

Everyone Always Asks Me… Where Can I Buy Acorns?

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I’ve been gathering and grinding acorns for over thirty-five years. I wrote the book on it… literally, and people always ask me, “Where can I buy acorn meal?” I never had a source. But now I do. And guess what? Her name is Sue. Not the same Sue as me but a Sue is a Sue and they seem to like acorns. I’ve checked out her website and it looks like the real deal. She’s even got a cafe and bakery. If you want to buy acorn meal, she sells it by the pound. It looks expensive but that’s because it is a lot of work to gather, shell, leach and prepare them. Here’s the link to Sue’s cafe and bakery: ttp://buyacornflour.com/product.php. Sue’s cafe is in Martinez, California. If you are in the area, pay her a visit and let me know what you think. Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns. Find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Acorns-Eatem-How–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973

Eating Acorns… Are There Any Benefits? In the Bedroom?

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When autumn comes along and pretty brown acorns are lying on the ground one should wonder… why bother to collect them? Why not leave the acorns for the squirrels? Unfortunately, acorns can get messy so folks usually rake them up and the wildlife has to do without. But if you were to gather them, what is the benefit? Similar to nuts, acorns have oils in them that are beneficial, they also contain a little protein and small amounts of phosphorus, sulfur, magnesium and calcium. But the best benefit of all is getting outside and gathering them. Another benefit is how pretty they look in a basket on the kitchen table. And they don’t look too bad in a jar leaching in the fridge. They look fantastic in cookies, they give them a pretty brown color. And there’s always that old book that said that acorns and oats were good to eat for “sexual strength.” Whether or not that’s true has to be decided by those who eat acorns. Although it’s a lot easier to cook up a bowl of oats, there’s nothing like dipping a corn chip into a delicious bowl of acorn dip, knowing it just might have… benefits. Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns. Find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Acorns-Eatem-How–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973

 

Using Acorns to Teach Your Kids About Ecology

The earlier you teach your children to enjoy nature, the more likely they are to embrace and understand it. That is what I believe. One of the fun things about nature is that it is free, or should be. Take the time for nature walks with your children and make it clear to them how they fit into the ecosystem. Acorns are an excellent way to show kids how everything connects. The sun brings life to the oak tree and the rain brings water. The oak tree grows big enough to provide shade for animals and the acorns provide food. The large animals eat the acorns and the smaller animals eat the crumbs. The birds swoop in for crumbs too while larger birds, like woodpeckers, take the whole acorn and stuff it in the holes they’ve drilled into trees. Even worms get in on the act. Little tiny worms invade the acorn and when they do, birds swoop in again and eat the worms. The droppings left by the birds and animals nourish the tree. The rains return and the ecological cycle repeats. It’s a circle that goes round and round.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns. Find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Acorns-Eatem-How–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973

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Gathering Acorns is Great Fun for Kids… Next Time Bake Acorn Cookies!

Kids love to gather acorns. I know because I have heard close to a hundred of these acorn stories. “When I was six,” people always tell me. These are adults, reliving their experience gathering acorns, probably when they were studying the Native American history of their area. I have yet to hear one of these stories without a smile on the teller’s face. Fond memories. What their schoolteachers did not know was that with a little more effort, the children could process the acorns and make cookies, bringing even bigger smiles. Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns. Find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Acorns-Eatem-How–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973

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Nature’s Health… Are Acorns Medicinal?

I believe that acorns are medicinal and I’ll tell you why. Besides containing a little protein and many carbohydrates, some acorns hold as much as 13.55 percent fat and 8.60 percent fiber. Both necessary for an efficient body. In addition, acorns make good medicine because they contain significant quantities of calcium and magnesium. These two nutrients work together. Calcium is essential for strong bones and calm nerves and is lost from our bodies when magnesium is deficient. Also found significantly in acorns, is potassium, a nutrient vital to our well-being, a loss of which to diabetics is extremely dangerous. Sulfur is another element found significantly in acorns. It is such an important amino acid; the high sulfur content in eggs has given eggnog its reputation as good medicine for combatting sickness. If you have not tried eating acorns, I suggest you do. It’s good medicine. Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns. Find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Acorns-Eatem-How–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973

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COOKING With Acorns… Are Acorns Safe To Eat?

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I have asked this question myself, in the early days when I first wanted to eat wild foods. Are acorns safe to eat? The answer is yes. Acorns sustained Native Americans for thousands of years. Cultures throughout the world, living in temperate climates where oaks grow, also ate acorns. In Spain, they made spirits from acorns. In England, the peasants ate them. Pagan history shows a grand reverence for the oak and the acorn. Naturalist John Muir recorded his travels and left us with his belief that the acorn was “strengthening.” My biggest surprise is that the “civilized” world has overlooked them for so long. Sometimes I celebrate holidays with a bowl of acorn dip, made from the acorns of California Valley Oaks. It’s delicious and the next time I go to the store, I’m picking up the ingredients to make more. Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns. Find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Acorns-Eatem-How–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973