We’ve all ridden through oak-covered hillsides in the Bay Area, but I’ve always wondered if the acorn could be a delicious food source, so with a lot of free time these days I decided to find out.
I’ve eaten Miner’s lettuce, Chanterelle mushrooms, Thimbleberries, and other wild foods, but I’m hardly a survivalist.
If we ever have one of those events leading to a dystopian future, I’ll be the first to go.
Gathering acorns is the easy part. They’re everywhere. I picked up some in a nearby park as the squirrels chattered away in the trees, watching their food source disappear.
I followed the process recommended by Arthur Haines in his YouTube video. He recommends cold-water leaching of the tannin, the stuff that makes acorns poisonous to most animals.
I didn’t see the point in drying the acorns in the sun, as recommended, and besides, it was raining. Probably not a good idea. They should be dried.
I used a claw hammer and a flat stone to smash the acorn (lying on its side) to get to the nut.
It took at least two hours of pounding. I thought about the indigenous people who used to do this all the time and thanked my lucky stars for Costco.
Then I had to grind the nuts into a fine powder before leaching.
Leaching took a week of twice-daily emptying water-filled mixing bowls with ground acorn. On the eighth day the water was clear except for a slight color tinge, so I knew the tannins were gone and I wouldn’t die.
Then I had to dry the acorns. On a cold winter day that can take a while, so I used a space heater.
Finally, I used the acorn mix to make waffles. I figured, one cup of flour and one cup of ground acorn would do the trick. No, the acorn is more like ground nuts, not flour.
I had to add another cup of regular flour. The verdict: Acorns don’t have much taste, if any. Think sawdust.
The lesson here is simple. Good foods are popular.
Acorns don’t make the grade. That’s why you only see them being eaten by survivalist types. Same goes for buckeyes, only they’re even harder to prepare and taste like bland potatoes.
OK squirrels, you can keep your acorns.
Follow-up: I tried it as coffee. With sugar and half-and-half, not bad. The Southern troops drank acorn coffee in the Civil War.