Did you know that acorns are not just for squirrels? While most people do not even consider eating acorns as a snack, they are just as edible as any other nut. Acorns taste good and are nutritious and easy to harvest. Acorns come from oak trees and a long time ago, these nuts were a staple in the diet of Native Americans. Now that fall is upon us, gather up some acorns and roast these little nuts. This would be an interesting project for children, too.
The one thing to remember about acorns is that before you can roast and eat them, they will need to be treated. Acorns contain what is called tannin. Tannin is a natural substance found naturally in some nuts and grapes. This causes a bitter taste, so you must remove this substance from the acorns before eating. In order to remove the tannin, you can boil the whole shelled kernels in water. In you use acorns from white oak; they are not as bitter as acorns on red or black oaks. You can use those without boiling. If you are unsure what kind of acorn you have, you are better off boiling them first.
To boil your acorns, cook them for about 15 minutes and pour off the liquid. Add fresh water and repeat this process until the water in the pot no longer turns brown. This may take up to two hours for this process to complete. Another process that can remove the tannin before roasting acorns is a bit slower, but works just as well. You can soak the acorns in water for several days. Make sure you change the water a few times.
Now that the tannin has been removed from the acorns, you can roast them. Place them on a cookie sheet and cook them in a 300-350 degree oven for about an hour. When they are done, you have a perfectly edible nut! You can eat them directly from the oven or chop them up and use them in any recipe that calls for nuts. Another way to use acorns is to ground the acorns into meal and make porridge or use in quick bread recipes.
Have you ever eaten a black walnut or a butternut? These are edible nuts, as well. They are both tasty. However, these nuts are messy when you harvest them. You will have to wear old clothing and strip the husks off before you get to the inner kernels. They outer husks contain a dye that stains. Wear gloves before stripping the husks. Sometimes you will find that outer husks are hard to remove, so you might have to hammer the outer husk. Black walnuts taste better than a regular walnut. You can use them in your baking as many professional bakers do. Butternuts are the same thing as a white walnut.
If you are looking for a unique project this fall, try collecting these unusual nuts for your next snack. Acorns, butternuts and black walnuts may take a little more work, but they are delicious and nutritious.