One of the staple foods to many a primitive Human, especially in Eastern N.America, was the Acorn. The Acorn is the perfect food to store for winter survival. It is high in Protein, Fat and minerals, and comes in its own little package to keep it fresh all winter long till it is needed. It is readily available, and in many forests, there are more than any one family could ever collect and use.
Acorns come from Oak trees, and the Acorns they produce are as varied as the trees that produce them. They come in all shapes and sizes and are colored in many shades of browns and reddish browns. Two major types of Oaks are the White Oaks and the Red Oaks. Oak trees, in general, are known for their high Tannic Acid content, one of the things that make Oak Trees Medicinal due to it's astringent nature, and the Acorns take up that Tannic Acid. Unfortunately Tannic Acid is is extremely bitter also, which make most Acorns too bitter to eat without processing. White Oaks tend to have less Tannic Acid in their Acorns and I have found some White Oaks in my time that I was able to eat the Acorns right off the tree.
Luckily, Tannic Acid is water soluble, so it is possible, with a little work, to leach the Tannic Acid from the Acorns to make them palatable. In primitive times, if you were lucky enough to live by a river, you could put the shelled Acorns in a basket and throw it in the river, and as the water ran over the Acorns it would leach out the Tannic Acid. At this point you could use them as they were or dry them for storage to be used later.
What made me start thinking about all this Acorn stuff was; I had gone over a friends house to get some fire wood that he had just cut down and as I pulled into his driveway the whole driveway was filled with Acorns from a huge White Oak he had in front of his house. I don't have any Oak Trees on my property so I asked him if he wouldn't mind if I gathered some. If I wanted too, I have no doubt I could have easily collected over 200 pounds from this one tree! I didn't of course, I only collected a small bucketful to play around with. I have done this before, though it's been a long time, and I remember how labor intensive it could be.
What follows is my non-primitive way of processing Acorns.
|Whole Acorn right from the ground|
The next step is to leach the Tannic Acid from the Acorns. I did this by placing them in a large Mason Jar and filling it with water.
|The brown Tannic Acid Leaching into the water|