Can we eat acorns? Yes, we can. In fact, acorns are a terrific source of emergency survival food. You can roast them as you would Chestnuts, or even grind them down to make flour. But before you do either of these options, you need to first prepare them.
Is It Safe to Eat Acorns?
First of all, you don’t want to simply pick up an acorn, crack it open and eat the nut inside. Acorns are loaded with tannic acid, which can make you sick to your stomach. This means the acorn harvest has to be prepared prior to eating. The good news is that this is a very simple process.
So, if you want to give eating acorns a try, gather up a bunch so you can process them in bulk. The best time for collecting these little morsels is in the Fall and Winter. Any time you find oak trees, you should find plenty of acorns for the taking.
Preparing Acorns to Eat
As with any nut, you need to first separate the nut from its shell. As acorns are small, it makes good sense to crack them several at a time versus one by one. To do this, you can lay several nuts out on a hard surface (sidewalk or a flat rock) and beat them with something heavy. The wider the heavy object, the more nuts you can crack at once.
Once they are broken, you can discard the hard shell bits and place the inside nut chunks into a pot.of hot water. The water will leech out the disagreeable tannic acid, making the nut much more pleasant to eat. This process will take a minimum of three to four hours. If you want to speed up the process, bring the water to a boil and change the water out once it turns dark. Please note that it may take several changes of water before the acid is all leeched out. To test them, take a small bite. If they are still too bitter to eat, let them soak for another few hours.
Another way to leech the harmful acid from the nuts is to place the edible parts in a clean sock in a stream. (Just be sure to secure the sock first.) This cold water leeching process can take a few days, so it is only advisable if you plan to camp beside running water for some time. Some survivalists swear that cold water leeching is the best method of preparation if you plan to use the acorns for flour. But it does require days whereas with hot water, the process can be done in hours.
Can We Eat Acorns? Sure: Roast ‘Em Up!
If you are out in the woods, camping or in a survival situation, the best way to finish the acorns prior to eating is to roast them. Simply place the damp chunks of nuts into a dry frying pan and shake them back and forth over your campfire. When they change color a bit and start to give off that fragrant roasted nut smell, you’ll know that they are ready for eating.
For some survivalists, this is the true benefit of gathering acorns. Starches can be hard to find in the wild, and acorns can help with that. Once the acorns have been leeched, let them air dry for a few hours before grinding them down. Then let the ground nuts air dry a few hours longer and grind them again.
You can use the resulting acorn flour for your baking needs, but don’t expect the soft, spongy type of bread you get from wheat flour. Items made with acorn flour tend to be on the crumbly side, and since they lack the gluten, they won’t rise. But even flat and crumbly, they are definitely edible.
So, can we eat acorns? Absolutely. Why not give them a try? You really don’t have to be in a survival situation to test them out. Go for it!