Nature never ceases to amaze me. Did you know that a woodpecker has a tongue that is twice the length of its beak? It is so long, when not in use, it wraps up inside the bird’s head cavity. When it is in use, it drills down ant hills and scoops out the prey. Here’s the sad part. When there aren’t enough acorns, woodpeckers die. And you know the dead trees that are full of holes that are full of acorns? Those are called granaries and they take years to build up and support woodpecker communities.
As more and more people learn to enjoy cooking with acorns, I hope they will not forget the myriad of woodland animals who depend on them for food. It’s that time of year. Let’s gather acorns. But let’s leave an abundance for the birds.
Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns, http://www.amazon.com/Acorns-Eatem-How–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973 and Secret Genealogy IV – Native Americans Hidden in Our Family Trees. http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Genealogy-IV-Native-Americans/dp/1500756105
Step two in acorn preparation is leaching and it is the most important factor. If the tannic acid is not removed, your acorn meal will be bitter and your tummy might ache and your gums might pucker and blister. Doesn’t sound very appetizing does it? Don’t let that stop you, many foods need preparation.
Thoroughly leached acorns are a delight. If I was loopy, I’d say that acorns are a portal into the earth and that they bring magic to your life. As I look onto the bright green oak shoots that signal the advent of spring, and watch the birds flit between them, I am reminded of the strength the oak brings to living things throughout the world.
Rinsing out the tannin returns the acid to the soil, nourishing future harvests of acorns the forest animals depend on. The cycle of life goes round and round. Gathering and preparing acorns has us step into that earthy world, even if only for a short time. 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
… and Secret Genealogy IV – Native Americans Hidden in Our Family Trees. Available here:
When leaching acorns, the ratio of water to acorns is important. Acorns are rather starchy and when they’re dry, they soak up a lot of water. I probably use more water than is necessary but I usually say 3 parts water to one part acorns. For example, if you have one cup of acorns, I recommend using at least three cups of water when you put them into the blender to leach them. That’s probably enough. It’s fine if you use more water than that. If you have several cups of acorns, only grind one cup at a time. And don’t forget to take the shells off first!
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