Cultured Red Cabbage and Apples

Cultured Red Cabbage and Apples

Monday, September 20, 2010


More and more people are becoming interested in the wild foods that nature provides for us. Throughout time cultures have learned how to naturally process certain foods to make them more edible and palatable.
I often pondered what people in more primitive cultures ate...especially if they were not highly developed in agriculture. I would ask my friends and relatives...why don't we see broccoli or tomatoes, spinach, peas or pumpkins growing wild in our woods and fields? Where did they come from? I guess that I've come to the conclusion that many of our modern vegetables have been bred and developed by man from smaller less obvious varieties that may have been found in the wild. My interest in this subject has led me to begin learning about foraging for food out in nature.

A few weeks ago I bought the book Nature's Garden: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants so I could learn how to identify and prepare certain plants from the edges of our yard and from the woods and meadows near our home. This book is a bit different than most foraging books in that it includes perhaps fewer plants but it goes into greater detail on how to use them.

I have just read the comprehensive section on acorns. Acorns were once a staple food of the American Indian. They were leached (soaked in water) to remove the bitter tannins, dried and then ground into acorn meal or flour. Two quotes from this chapter read... " For thousands of years our ancestors subsisted on acorns, living as part of the ecosystems they call home. From the hills of the fertile crescent to the great forests of Western Europe, from the coasts of Japan and Korea , across the Pacific to California, from the Eastern Woodlands of North America to the mountains and valleys of Mexico, the acorn was once a cherished food as basic as bread. Despite their long food history as a food source for people over much of the world, acorns are widely believed to be poisonous or inedible. Even more widely, they are despised as being beneath the dignity of human beings to consume."

There are many different varieties of acorns and the author claims that all of them are edible. The peak of the acorn harvesting is pretty much...right now. They drop from the trees from late August through the middle of October. Samuel Thayer, the author of Nature's Garden, has included beautifully clear pictures of the different varieites of acorns, along with photos of what weevil infested acorns would look like. First you dry the acorns. After they are dried, you can process them further at your convenience. The book gives detailed information concerning all the steps involved. I think it sounds like alot of work at first but then once a person has done it a few times, it becomes old hat.

The acorns in the picture to the right are ones that I picked up today on my walk. I found out that it's a good idea on a windy wear a hat. Those acorns can be hard on the head. There are 5 acorns to the right that I am pretty sure are weevil free. All of the acorns with the white discs are normal and uninfested...with the exception of perhaps the one on the very left. If you look closely, you will see a dark spot on the white disc at 10 o'clock, which is usually evidence of weevils. I am not sure about two of the with the gold disc and one with a tannish brown disk. I will have to read a bit more thoroughly to find ot what the deal is with them.

After the acorns are processed you can make acorn grits, fried acorn meal patties, pizza crust, pie crust or the acorn meal can be added to soups and stews. The book has a few photos and recipe ideas for the acorn meal. In the future it will become more and more difficult to get hold of food that is not genetically modified. Learning about what we can utilize free in nature seems like a wise idea....economically and for health reasons. In the next few days I will be foraging for acorns to see if I can find enough to dry and process.  Sit back and check out the videos below

1 comment:

  1. wow. when i run out of food and i don't have any money, I'm gonna start eating acorns. I know they're bitter but I fine with that. ...along with some dandelion and knotweed maybe. Thank you for posting this, I founded it helpful