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NAME: Red Oak
SPECIES / FAMILY: Quercus Rubra / Fagaceae
OTHER COMMON NAME(S): northern red oak
CONDITIONS: sun-partial shade
COMMENT: Acorns are most often used for flour (pancakes, muffins, etc..) Red oak acorns are high in tannin and therefore need more leaching than white oak acorns. Seed/nut - cooked. A staple food for several native North American Indian tribes. It can be dried, ground into a powder and used as a thickening in stews etc or mixed with cereals for making bread. The seed contains bitter tannins, these can be leached out by thoroughly washing the seed in running water though many minerals will also be lost. Either the whole seed can be used or the seed can be dried and ground it into a powder. It can take several days or even weeks to properly leach whole seeds, one method was to wrap them in a cloth bag and place them in a stream. Leaching the powder is quicker. A simple taste test can tell when the tannin has been leached. The traditional method of preparing the seed was to bury it in boggy ground overwinter. The germinating seed was dug up in the spring when it would have lost most of its astringency. The roasted seed is a coffee substitute.(1) More on how to prepare acorns, see #5. To process them, first put them in water and discard any that float.
CAUTION: Contain tannins.
NUTRITION/MEDICINAL: Antidiarrhoeal; Antiseptic; Antiviral; Astringent; Cancer; Emetic; Febrifuge; Salve; Tonic. The bark and inner bark is antiseptic, astringent, emetic, febrifuge and tonic. It is used in the treatment of diarrhea, chronic dysentery, indigestion, asthma, severe coughs, hoarseness, intermittent fevers, bleeding etc. Externally, it is used as a wash for skin eruptions, rashes, burns etc. The bark can be chewed as a treatment for mouth sores. The bark contains tannins, experimentally these have been shown to be antiviral, antiseptic, anticancer and also carcinogenic. Any galls produced on the tree are strongly astringent and can be used in the treatment of hemorrhages, chronic diarrhea, dysentery etc. (1)
Related Oaks: chinquapin / pin / white
OTHER USES: Dye; Repellent; Tannin; Wood. Tannin is obtained from the bark. A reddish-brown dye can be obtained from the bark. Wood - coarse-grained, hard, strong, heavy, not durable. An important lumber source in America, it is highly valued for flooring, furniture, veneer, construction etc. (1)
SOURCE LINKS (may include nutritional and medicinal info, plus other uses):
- http://www.foragingtexas.com/2008/08/acorn_20.html (good photos)
- https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Quercus_rubra (good photos)
HOW TO PREPARE ACORNS: https://www.almanac.com/content/how-prepare-and-cook-acorns
Have you ever wondered if the squirrels might be onto something? In fact, they are! Acorns are extremely nutritious and readily available in nature, making them a healthy addition to many recipes. Here’s how to prepare and cook acorns!
Why acorns? They are incredibly nutritious, offering healthy levels of carbohydrates, protein, and fiber. Surprisingly, they are also a good source of Vitamins A and C.
Plus, they have a wonderful rich, nutty taste. Also, why not? It’s fun to forage and try making something adventurous.
Acorns have been a staple of diets around the world and across cultures, including among some Native Americans.
While most folks use acorns to make a nutrient-rich, nutty-flavored flour, you can also eat acorns as roasted nuts (they are a lot like chestnuts). See more ideas below!
WHERE AND WHEN TO FIND ACORNS
Acorns come from oak trees, which can be found across North America. Oak trees are easily identifiable—they’re the ones with all the acorns around them! Jokes aside, oaks have fairly distinctive leaves and bark; look up which species of oak trees are common in your area to know exactly what signs to look for.
Acorns are typically harvested between September and November, when they fall from the trees and become easily accessible to deer, squirrels, and resourceful humans.
HOW TO COLLECT ACORNS
When gathering acorns, look for brown, fully mature acorns that still have their caps, as those without caps are more susceptible to infestation by worms and other critters.
Green acorns are not yet mature and shouldn’t be used. If you’re willing to wait, consider harvesting acorns this year and storing them in a cool, dry place until next fall, when they’ll be fully dried and easier to work with.
HOW TO WASH ACORNS
- Give acorns a quick rinse in cool water. Place them in a pot or bowl and fill it with water, then remove and dispose of any floating acorns, as they have likely gone bad.
- Place the acorns in a colander and run them under the tap for a minute or two to dislodge any loose dirt or hitchhiking bugs.
- Set the colander aside to let the acorns air-dry, or simply dry them by hand with a dish towel.
- Remove the shells and caps from your acorns with a nutcracker (or a hammer, if necessary). Do not eat the raw meat of the acorns yet.
HOW TO LEACH ACORNS
Acorns contain bitter-tasting tannins, so you must prepare, treat and cook the nuts before you eat them. It sounds like a pain but it’s really not that difficult.
- Start two pots of water boiling. Drop the raw, shell-less acorns into one pot and boil until the water is the color of strong tea. Strain the nuts through a colander and drop the strained nuts into the second pot of boiling water. Discard the dark water from the first pot, then refill it and bring the water to a boil again. Repeat the process without interruption (do not let the acorns cool) until the water boils clear. This may take an hour or more, depending on the variety of acorn.
- Alternatively, you can soak the raw acorns in cold water to leach the tannins out. Change the water when it turns a darker color. This process may take several days, depending on how long it takes for all the tannins to leach out of the acorn meat.
To avoid rotting, it’s very important that the acorns dry fully. Spread tannin-free acorns to dry on cookie sheets in a warm place. If it is hot out, lay the cookie sheets in the sun. Or, you could put them in an oven set to “warm.” You can also put the acorns in a dehydrator set on low heat.
EATING ROASTED ACORNS
Making acorn flour isn’t the only way you can enjoy acorns. Here’s how to roast the nuts:
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Pour the acorns into a single layer on an ungreased, rimmed cookie sheet.
- Cook the nuts for about 60 minutes or until they turn a chocolate brown color.
- Remove the acorns from the oven and let them cool. Salt to taste.
HOW TO GRIND ACORNS FOR FLOUR
When partially dry, coarse grind a few acorns at a time in a blender. Spread the ground acorns to dry on cookie sheets, then grind again in a blender. Repeat until you are left with a flour- or cornmeal-like substance.
You can also freeze your fresh acorn meal. Store dried flour in jars in the fridge.