The Wild Acorn Kitchen

Whether you’re surviving in the forest or simply making the most of wild plants around you, try noshing on this nutritious nut.

Though they must first be boiled for eating, acorns add a sweet, chestnut-like flavor to a variety of recipes, including pies, stews, breads, hushpuppies, and tortillas. 
Photo by Getty Images/MmeEmil

Thousands of edible plant species have been recorded worldwide, but only a fraction of those are cultivated as crops. So, when you’re out in the wilderness or foraging for food, remember that a plethora of healthy, palatable plants can provide something wholesome to eat at any time of year. Nutritionally, some of these plants are a quantum leap ahead of what’s available in modern grocery stores.

The reason we find certain foods in stores usually has more to do with their amenability to mechanical harvest than  with their taste and nutritional value. Whether a plant becomes a commercial crop has to do primarily with its profitability, which results from a combination of factors: the cost of growing; marketability (appearance and taste); how well it ships and displays before decomposing; its storage life; and — almost as an afterthought — its nutritional value. Nature’s vast, wild bounty is largely ignored. Tasty, wholesome, and free options are all over the place, and with a little luck, can be found exactly where and when you need them.

More than 600 species of oak bear an abundance of acorns during most seasons of the year.
Photo by Getty Images/Naumoid

The Admirable Acorn

Acorns are one such food source, and can usually be found from late summer to early spring. Some 600-plus species of acorn-producing oak trees (Quercus spp.) grow worldwide. Unfortunately, most acorns can’t be eaten without proper preparation; they contain high levels of tannic acid that must first be leached out, and that requires either long-term soaking or short-term boiling. Still, when you have time to leach the tannins, doing so is worth the effort.

To glean the carbohydrates, collect acorns before they turn green and sprout leaves. 
Photo by Adobe Stock/Mary's

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