- Photo by Γ–nder Γ–rtel on Unsplash

How to Eat Like a Squirrel - #TRYSOMETHINGNEW

I must be nuttier than squirrel poop to have tried this...

4w ago
5.3K
Play video
0:19

One of the oak trees living in my yard

Vencolini recently challenged FoodTribers to try something new. I've been alive for over six decades, and wasn't sure I could think of something that I hadn't yet tried (at least that I'd be willing to try!), but I've always been curious about acorns. Native Americans ate them, and I began to wonder if acorns might be a viable food source if the world ever goes kablooie. I knew that they are full of tannins, so I proceeded to do a bit of research to figure out how to turn them into something palatable. After digging around on the web for a bit, I decided to use this site as my guide, https://www.outdoorlife.com/blogs/survivalist/survival-skills-5-ways-eat-acorns/ , by Tim MacWelch.

Hunting and Gathering

First I had to go outside and forage for some acorns. That wasn't too difficult because our property hosts several nice, old oak trees (along with numerous youngsters). I didn't take many, though. A lot of critters depend on acorns for food, and I didn't want to deprive them of their sustenance. I already have plenty of other things to eat in my pantry.

My meager harvest

My meager harvest

I ran into my first problem as I began to sort and wash the acorns. Two of them had neat little holes drilled into their sides, obviously the work of some sort of insect (more on this coming up). I put the holey acorns into the compost bin and proceeded to use a knife to remove the shells from the rest of them. That's when my next problem cropped up.

Uh, oh... evidence of acorn weevil activity

Uh, oh... evidence of acorn weevil activity

Mama Weevil prepares to do her worst - photo by Elke Freese, Wikipedia

Mama Weevil prepares to do her worst - photo by Elke Freese, Wikipedia

The Dreaded Acorn Weevil

Every spring, mother acorn weevils drill a small hole though the shells of developing acorns and lay eggs within. The hole eventually heals over, offering complete protection for the developing larvae. In autumn, the acorns fall, and the larvae drill their way out and burrow into the ground, where they continue their development. When winter has passed, brand new adult acorn weevils emerge to begin the cycle anew. Fascinating, but disgusting to someone who wants to eat the acorns! Lots of grubby nuts, full of weevil frass (aka bug poop) ended up in the reject pile, thence to the compost heap. 🀒

Squirrels do not tend to cache grub-filled acorns, since they don't store well, which is the reason that most of my tiny harvest was infected by baby weevils. Many critters, including squirrels, eat the grubs as a supplementary protein source.

This particular critter does not care to eat grubs, however, so into the compost heap they went. I later learned that I should have placed all my acorns into a bowl of water: Undamaged acorns sink, while weevil infected ones float. If there is a next time (or if a Zombie Apocalypse reduces me to foraging for sustenance), I will float my acorns before processing them...

Compost...

Compost...

Preparing the acorns for roasting

My remaining acorns were ready to process at this point. The acorns must now be soaked to remove the tannins before they would be good to eat. According to Mr. MacWelch, and contrary to commonly administered advice, one should not boil the nuts to speed up the leaching process - apparently boiling them would only force the tannins deeper within the nutmeats. A very long soak in warm to hot water was necessary to render the acorn meats fit for consumption by humans. I changed the water every few hours. I continued to soak the nutmeats until a tiny nibble did not taste too bitter, about 72 hours..

The only edible portion of my harvest, ready to soak

The only edible portion of my harvest, ready to soak

Soaking acorn meats - note how the water is darkening.

Soaking acorn meats - note how the water is darkening.

Ready to eat!

I only had a very small amount of acorn meats to work with, so I decided to simply roast them, following the instructions on Mr. MacWelch's web site (see recipe below). Unfortunately, the results were less than appetizing. I guess I should have soaked them for a few more days, because the nutmeats were extremely astringent and bitter. Okay if I was very desperate, but otherwise, grist for the compost pile. πŸ˜₯ You can see my reaction in the cringeworthy video, also below...

The roasted acorns

The roasted acorns

Play video
0:43

The taste test... 🀒

Roasted Acorns

Something to eat during the Zombie Apocalypse

Prep time3d
Cook time15min
Total time3d 15min
CuisineAmerican
MealSnack

Ingredients

  • Acorns
  • Water
  • Oil

Instructions

  1. Soak acorns in water. Discard any that float.
  2. Use a knife to remove shells from remaining acorns. Break nutmeats up into small, pea-sized pieces.
  3. Soak nutmeats in warm to hot water to remove tannins. The water should become the color of weak tea. Change water every few hours. Continue process until the nuts taste sweeter (sample a bit every once in a while). It will take several days for the tannins to leach out.
  4. Once you deem the acorns to be ready, drain and dry the nutmeats. Spread them on a oiled pan, and bake at 375Β° for 15 minutes.

Recipe Notes

Note: Soaking times may vary, you may need less or more time to render your acorns palatable.

Recipe by

Tim MacWelch, as prepared by Jeannine L

Have you tried this recipe? Share your photos & thoughts in the comments below

Join In

Comments (89)

  • Jeannine, love your faces πŸ˜‚ But I’ve almost had a heart attack on first sight. Looking at the photo and noticing the word β€œsquirrel” with the corner of my eye, I though you tried a squirrel! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜… Thank you for participating bravely! ❀️

      28 days ago
  • Kuddos for trying them. I loved your reaction πŸ˜‚

      28 days ago
  • First, I would definitely rather eat the squirrel!

    You expression tells everything I need to know. I give you credit you at least tried two to make sure. Great post my friend!

      28 days ago
  • This is a great post!! Your reaction was funny 😁. I was recently wondering if those nuts were edible because my street is full of acorns right now (one hit my head πŸ˜…), the squirrels seem to not pay them much attention, the pigeons for sure do not eat that. Probably they got used to eat leftovers πŸ€”

      28 days ago
    • There may be too many easy (and tastier) pickings around there for them to pay attention to the acorns. Apparently they are edible, but I sure did SOMETHING wrong!

        28 days ago
  • You've really gone above and beyond on this one Jeannine! I'm not sure I'm 100% sold on trying acorns...

      27 days ago
    • Thank you. I had a lot of fun preparing for this article. I'm also sure that I'm 99% sold on NOT trying them again! πŸ˜‚

        27 days ago
89