It’s spring now in California and in some woodland areas, there are still acorns on the ground. After all the rains, they may begin to sprout. That’s okay. A little sprout on the acorn won’t hurt. But when the sprout starts getting longer than half-an-inch, you may want to toss it where it can grow into a tree.
Sprouted acorns have grown from a starch to a sugar state. You may notice a difference in the leaching water color. It can range from black to white, depending on the species, the freshness, and whether it is in a starch or sugar state. Just because the water is white, doesn’t mean it won’t be bitter.
For the record, I’ve had plenty of tan oak acorns that had sprouted well over an inch. When it gets that long, it’s growing a root. I broke it off and processed them as I did any other acorns. It was all fine.
Native Americans record burying their acorns in mud until they turned purple, and then they leached them. The acorns that I used with the long roots attached, were tan oak and they developed a bright pink on the tips. So my thinking is, the Indians were burying their acorns in mud so that they would gradually sprout, bringing them into a sugar state.
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