The picture above of this beautiful oak tree (in Schenley Park, Pittsburgh, PA) was taken a few weeks ago. Now this tree is brightly colored in yellows, oranges and browns. It’s a beautiful time of year here in the Northeast! Acorns are all over the place, and most people don’t know that they are edible (and sometimes quite delicious!)
There are two families of oak trees: white oaks (those pictured here, they will have rounded leaves) and red (or black) oaks (which have pointed leaves - I can’t believe I didn’t get a good picture! I’ll have to go out tomorrow and see what I can do…most oaks around here seem to be the pointy leafed kind.)
The acorns from the white oak form at the end of the first growning season (while the reds oaks mature at the end of the second year on the previous year’s twigs, and are quite bitter - they contain more tanins.) The bitter properties can be easily removed, however.
Below you’ll find acorns growing on a white oak tree:
Below are some acorns without the cap. These acorns were actually fairly bitter as well. To remove the bitterness from any acorn, crack the shell and remove the nutmeat. Place whole or chopped nut meats in a cloth and tie closed. Boil in water until the water turns brown. Drain and repeat until the water no longer becomes brown.
If you are in the wilderness or do not want to cook the nutmeats, you can tie them up in a cloth and place them in a stream or other running water. This removes the bitter tanins as well, but may take longer, possibly even a day or two depending on the type of acorn.
Once the bitterness is removed, dry the nuts in the sun, oven or dehydrator. You can then eat as is, or grind into flour, or use in any number of recipes.
It’s fun to taste acorns you find. Some are so incredibly bitter, but every once in a while, we’ll stumble across a tree with incredibly tasty acorns!
Make sure you check the base of old oak trees, especially this time of year. We’re on the lookout for a mushroom called Hen of the Woods (aka Maitake), an edible and medicinal mushroom that is supposed to be having a banner year. We haven’t found ours yet…let us know if you’ve found yours!
Also, let us know if you’ve collected acorns, and how you’ve prepared them!
~ Melissa Sokulski, L.Ac.
Food Under Foot