This article originally appeared in Issue 6Â of our...
Food provides calories, and calories provide the energy to keep your mind sharp and your muscles moving. If your supplies of food dwindle too far, your entire plan for survival can be derailed, so it's essential to have backup calorie sources to rely on. If hunting, trapping, fishing, and gardening don't produce enough food, foraging for wild edibles can provide a much-needed supplement to your diet.
When we think of foraging for food in the woods, we often think of easy pickings like berries, roots, flowers, and mushrooms (although you'll need to be careful with those). But there's one food source that's often overlooked — in fact, you've probably walked all over it without even noticing.
Acorns are an excellent survival food, as long as you know how to prepare them. Scientific American writes, “In general, acorns appear to be higher in caloric content per unit weight than cereal grains, a reliable source of vitamin C and starch, and high in magnesium, calcium and phosphorus.”
With a few exceptions, most acorns are not edible in raw form due to high tannin content. Tannins are chemicals which taste extremely bitter and can cause indigestion, so you'll need to extract them from any acorns you gather through a process called leaching. Before leaching, it's best to make sure your acorns are ripe and brown, not green. Also make sure the acorns have no holes or deformities, as this could mean they've been damaged by insects or animals. Fortunately, these ripe acorns can be collected easily from the ground beneath oak trees, especially in the fall.
Dry the acorns in the sun to remove moisture if necessary, then shuck them by striking them with with a hammer or rock. Peel off the cap and skin, and set aside the inner meat. Once the acorns have been shucked, leaching can begin.
Tannins can be leached from acorns by soaking the acorns in cold water, and repeatedly changing the water until it remains clear. This usually takes several days. Hot water is even more effective for leaching, and will require less time to extract the tannins. At this stage, the acorns are edible, so you can…
You can also make acorn butter, acorn pancakes, acorn cookies, and more — here's a list of recipes to consider.