Friday, February 20, 2009

Foraging Adventures Part 1:

Acorns: More Than Squirrel Food

Last night, we finished up the acorns my brothers and I gathered and processed when they visited last fall. I made some whole grain pancakes with the ground up nuts, which I had been saving in the freezer. Reuben (my youngest, age 22 months), was so hungry (big surprise) he kept holding up his plate and grunting while I was cooking them. "No," I explained, "let's wait till they're all done." Suddenly, he burst out with "Pease, pease!" Needless to say, I couldn't resist the magic word, especially since it was the first time he ever said it! And he ate a bunch!

Since acorns are very bitter when you gather them, they require a little extra work to leach out the tannins. But since our yard gets drowned in acorns each year, gathering them is easy and free. There are many varieties of oaks, but they all generally fall into one of two basic groups. The black oaks, whose acorns mature every two years, have pointy-edged leaves, and typically have more tannin. The white oaks have smooth lobed leaves and bear nuts every year. They are usually less bitter, so those are the ones we gather. These acorns are also more oblong and have softer shells than those of the black oaks, which are like hard marbles.

Now I could tell you how to process them right now, but I think I will hand the baton to Alan (Strake) and see if he can take a break from designing 3d animated computer games and share what he remembers from our foraging adventure last fall. Your turn, bro!

Stay tuned for the next in the series, which should hopefully be more i
n keeping with the season.

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