There are a lot of books about Native Americans and when I wanted to learn about eating acorns, I thought sure that I could go to the library and find a book that would tell me how to do it. That was not the case. I went through countless books and the only thing I could tell was that they were using water to leach them. I did not know how long the Indians leached them, nor did I know if they kept them cool in the process. I was just a girl who loved nature and wanted to live and sustain myself within the woodlands of Northern California.
So I gathered acorns. By the pillowcase full. I totted them up the hill to my house and with a large river rock, cracked them open. Then, I put the shelled acorns in a white plastic bucket and covered them with water. I had to guess how long to leach them. They don’t leach well if they aren’t ground up and without refrigeration, they get a scum on them. I lived without electricity so I couldn’t keep them cool. I just poured the scum off and rinsed them really well. I ensued a lot of stomach aces though. Not from the scum but from the tannic acid not removed well enough.
With a lot of trial and error, I finally figured out how to leach acorns. The answer is; long enough to get the tannic acid out. Each oak species has different tannic acid amounts. You have to experiment yourself. My guess is that you will need to leach them anywhere from one week to a month. The tan oak acorns I used in Mendocino County, California required only one week’s leaching. But the acorns I gather in the Sierra Foothills require three times as much leaching.
Don’t be discouraged. They’re worth the wait. Acorn dip with blue corn chips… the thought of it makes my mouth water. That’s probably the little bit of tannic acid that is retained that gives the acorns and any dishes you make with them, their distinctive flavor.
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
You should save Grandma’s encyclopedia and I’ll tell you why. It holds the history of the world and it’s more candidly told than it would be today. I’m reading an encyclopedia that was published in the early 1950’s and has an earlier publishing date of 1945. Meaning that the research was done during the early twentieth-century. Don’t let the outdated publishing deter you. I’m impressed by the accuracy of the scientific articles, much of what they wrote is just now hitting the mainstream.
When the writers, (probably the best in the world) wrote about cultures, they were not as concerned about offending people or being sued. Authors today must be socially and politically correct. Of course, in 1945, authors had ethics but the rules were different. I’ve not run across any encyclopedia writer who intentioned malice. The authors went around the world, wrote about the people and took pictures, or had a photographer. Their intent was to share the world to those back home.
I assume that Google is scanning old encyclopedias. I hope so. I also hope that people will take a second look at their value. If you do get rid of it, I hope it finds its way into the hands of people like me, who didn’t pay enough attention in school or wasn’t in Castile, Spain in 1940. But after reading the articles, I feel like I’ve been there. Even more so, after seeing the colorful pictures. And because the authors weren’t hindered by political correctness, I know exactly what the people looked like.
Suellen Ocean is the author of many books on diverse topics. Her books are available here: http://www.amazon.com/Suellen-Ocean/e/B001KC7Z78
Probably 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
When I began gathering and preparing acorns for food, I lived in the Pacific Northwest in a vast forest of tanoak trees. Most years, acorns were so thick on the ground; they sprouted in the spring and created a thick undergrowth of baby oaks. Now I live in the Sierra Foothills and in some areas, there are barely enough acorns to sustain wildlife that depend on them. In that instance, I leave the acorns right where they are. There is no way I want to go to bed at night thinking I have robbed the squirrels of their winter food stash. Where do I feel comfortable collecting acorns? In parks and yards where the acorns are raked up and put into the trash. I understand why people do that but it pains me that they do. Yes, acorns in the yard can be a real mess. Next year, if acorns are abundant, you might mention it to your local elementary school teacher or the local cub scouts. Perhaps they would like to bag some of them up for their history studies or nature survival course. And don’t forget taking some into the house for yourself. They turn cakes and cookies into delicacies. 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
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