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Permies likes wild harvesting and the farmer likes Acorns permies
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Acorns

Ed Waters


Joined: Dec 01, 2010
Posts: 101
We purchased both of the books by Samuel Thayer based on recommendations found on this site, and are very happy with both of them.

We pulled the shadecloth off our greenhouses at the beginning of September and moved them under acorn trees on our property.

It was a little slow getting started, but it seems that the white oaks are really cranking up now.  The odd thing, is that alot of the nuts have begun to sprout.  We check the nets every day.  Not seeing this with the red oaks, but they seem to be a little behind.

Sprouting obviously means they are healthy, but does anyone know do you continue the process of letting them dry then leaching out the tannins?

Seeing the bounty you can get from these trees reminds what a wasted resource they are.
ronie dee


Joined: Mar 04, 2009
Posts: 586
Location: Cosby MO
    
    2
I heard that the Indians mashed the acorn and left it in running water in some kind of container. The running water leeched the ugly out of the nuts. But it seems to me that all the nutrients would be gone too.

So if you like to eat squirrel - let the critter eat the nuts and then harvest the squirrel.


Sometimes the answer is not to cross an old bridge, nor to burn it, but to build a better bridge.
                            


Joined: Aug 21, 2011
Posts: 79
http://zinelibrary.info/eating-acorns
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
ronie wrote:
I heard that the Indians mashed the acorn and left it in running water in some kind of container. The running water leeched the ugly out of the nuts. But it seems to me that all the nutrients would be gone too.


I think the water-soluble nutrients might be gone, but apparently most calories in the form of fat and carbs remain.

The method I have heard of is putting the roughly crushed (big chunks) acorn kernels (removed from husk) in a net bag in a running stream for ? amount of time.

I tried the pour hot water over them method and the result was not palatable after a few rinses, too much tannin remained.  This could be hard on the liver over time.  I might try again this Fall, but overall I'm thinking the eating acorns in the form of squirrel meat might be the better course...we have tons (possibly literally tons) of squirrels on our place.


Idle dreamer

Ed Waters


Joined: Dec 01, 2010
Posts: 101
Thayer says that you have to hot leach between 3 and 15 times to get them palatable.  I suppose 3 would be for the white oak and 15 would be for red and others go in between.  I read a really short comment on another blog which said when you finish one boil that you have to put the acorns into more boiling water when you switch them.  If you don't the cold water will lock in the tannins.  This is my first year trying this, and I'm amazed at the difference in production from various trees.  Some almost nothing while others you get tired picking them up.  It is such an amazing resource that we feel we have to find ways to make use of them.
My original question was about those that have sprouted, and I think I found the answer.  It doesn't matter, as long as the sprout looks healthy just start drying with the rest of the nuts.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
I think that's the problem  - I didn't leach enough times. I think I only leached 3 or 4 times.  I was very careful to only use hot water.  Ours are Live Oak which is, I believe, a white oak but apparently ours are not sweet. 
Denise Lehtinen


Joined: Sep 10, 2011
Posts: 100
Location: Tampa, Florida zone 9A
I'm glad you found the answer to your question, Ed.  If you hadn't I would have told you that my husband routinely sprouts raw nuts (of other species) for the health benefits before adding them to smoothies and the like.  It's not surprising that the same is possible with acorns.
Ed Waters


Joined: Dec 01, 2010
Posts: 101
Another good idea for acorns.  If you freeze the water after boiling off the tannins its supposed to be good for poison ivy.

This whole foraging thing is very complicated.  We have amazing oak trees that produced nothing for this year, while there are two that won't stop.  I have found one hickory tree that  produces nuts that are twice the size of all the rest of our hickory trees.  I guess over time you begin to figure out which trees produce best under different conditions.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Acorns are falling from the trees while green.    Can I harvest and process them green or will they be lacking in food value?

Melba Corbett


Joined: Apr 23, 2011
Posts: 160
Location: North Carolina
I always leach acorns in cold water and during warm weather keep them in the fridge so they don't sour.  Just change the water every day and soak them at least 5 days.  I usually crack and peel them first so if any are wormy I throw them out to the chickens.  That way the ones I soak are nice and yellow and worm free.  Then you can roast them in the oven after draining, adding a bit of apple if necessary to make them taste better.  If you have sufficiently leached out the tannic which is toxic in large quantity, they will be mild tasting.  I roast them at 250 degrees about an hour.  They are very nutritious and are an acquired taste.  At one time in human history, they were a preferred food source.  You have to harvest them as soon as they fall, or they will frequently be wormy.  White oak is the mildest and has the least amount of tannins.  I teach wild edible and medicinal herb classes and we sometimes eat them in the form of acorn bread (use with other flour) during class as a demonstration.  Pretty good with cornmeal.  Chop or grind the leached acorns first. 


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Suzy Bean
steward

Joined: Apr 05, 2011
Posts: 940
Location: Stevensville, MT
    
    8
Am reading an acorn article in the winter 2011 issue of Permaculture Activist magazine, and it says that "established oak woodland has been recorded to yield up to 6,000 of acorn per acre."
Some other tidbits:
Acorn oil is comparable to olive oil.
In water, good ones sink and bad ones float.

I also liked the author's take on re-entering integral ecosystems rather than leaving "nature" alone, and seeing "wildlands" more as "cultural landscapes" in which we have our place. Kind of a nice article.


www.thehappypermaculturalist.wordpress.com
Jordan Lowery
volunteer

Joined: Sep 26, 2009
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
    
  11
are you talking about eating them or growing them?

for eating, sprouted acorns possibly dont need leeching, try a few from a given tree before you commit to the rest. some trees produce acorns with a lot of tannins and others none. we have a tree here that when sprouted the acorns taste tannin free, and without sprouting are very low compared to other oak trees we have.

for growing i find the red and black oaks to take the longest, and the blue and white oaks sprout the fastest. if you want to grow them plant sideways a few inches under the soil. the root and the shoot come from the same end but the shoot comes from inside between the nut parts of the acorn.


The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings. - Masanobu Fukuoka
Cj Verde


Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 2573
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
    
  47
Tyler Ludens wrote:...overall I'm thinking the eating acorns in the form of squirrel meat might be the better course...we have tons (possibly literally tons) of squirrels on our place.


Sheep and turkey eat acorns too. I think they easier (& probably tastier) to harvest than squirrel.
Pigs too, of course.
All three should be able to eat acorns without processing. Not sure about chickens though.


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Lana White


Joined: Sep 24, 2012
Posts: 12
I like cold leaching better. It makes for a lighter color of meal and is easier to remove the tannins, I think. Hot water leaching makes for a dark meal and takes more work. The cold water leaching takes more time, that's all.

In either case, you keep changing the water until it remains fairly clear.

I put the shelled acorns into an old pillowcase, so all I have to do when changing the water is take the pillowcase out and dump the water. It will stain the pillowcase, so don't use a good one!

When the tannins are all or mostly all out, the acorns are surprisingly sweet in acorn bread. My recipe comes from Euell Gibbons...three tablespoons of sugar makes a sweet dessert bread. Everyone loves that bread and the cookies too, also from Gibbons.

The tannin water, by the way, sure does leave the skin on your hands feeling soft.
Cj Verde


Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 2573
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
    
  47
I don't know why I didn't mention it with my previous post, but when sheep eat acorns it helps keep their parasite load down. Same thing is true of them eating conifers (so I try to throw a branch in their paddock every day during the winter.
Alder Burns
pollinator

Joined: Feb 25, 2012
Posts: 899
Location: northern California
    
  27
After two year's experience, I've found that clipping the acorns open with a pair of pruners works the quickest. Halves crosswise, and then quarters. Any worm is usually just in one quarter...or maybe half...this is set aside for the chickens. The quarters are easy to peel the shell off of. Then we spread the pieces in the sun to dry.....usually takes two good hot days. Then I stir them around and this sloughs the thin, bitter skin off the pieces and this can be winnowed away by pouring between two buckets in a breeze. At this stage, we store the dry pieces, which are flint-hard, in jars for later use. When we want to use them, we grind the pieces into a coarse meal, like grits, and leach....usually by putting them in a cloth set in a colander and letting water drip through them for a day or two till the gruel tastes bland. The result is a bland, relatively flavorless gruel. So far I have mainly used it mixed with corn grits....gradually increasing the percentage of acorn with each sucessive batch to see how I like the result....I'm now approaching 50%. Allowing the mixture with water to ferment for a day or two seems to improve the flavor...and probably the nutrition. My partner has had good results mixing it into ground meat. I'm thrilled with the yields that different local trees are capable of....different ones different years....and that it's free calories....no cultivation, and (especially in this dry climate) no additional water.
Of course, there's competition out there....everything out here seems to eat them....deer and pigs, squirrels and turkeys, woodpeckers and jays.....


Alder Burns (adiantum)
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Thank you for those details, Alder. If we get a decent crop this year I hope to process some. Last time I didn't leach them enough.
 
 
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