The children of our mighty oaks are everywhere. The are deep under the trees themselves, of course. They crunch sadly under our tires as we drive around the property. And on my daily walk, I must be careful if I hesitate too long under the trees for fear of being bonked on the head by the nuts as they fall!
Since, for various reasons, I spend a lot of my time thinking about where food comes from and how we can enhance all of what we have, plotting the future of at least some of this bounty is currently much on my mind.
First it’s important to note that humans aren’t the only ones who can benefit from the oak’s gift of the acorns. At this time of year, our beloved deer apparently stop their dancing long enough to take about 25 percent of their diet from the acorns found on the property in such numbers.
It isn’t just the deer, either. Birds, ducks, woodpeckers, mice, squirrels and other rodents enrich their diets and prepare for winter munching on the nutritious nuts.
And acorns are nutritious! All varieties have protein, carbs and fats in abundance and include vitamins and minerals like calcium, potassium, phosphorus and niacin.
Even though so many creatures gain a lot of nutrition from acorns, there’s enough around for humans to have a share, as well. After all, a mature oak can produce up to 1000 pounds of acorns per year. (No wonder I’m getting hit on the head so often on my walks!)
Unlike many other nuts, acorns have strong tannins that must be removed before humans can enjoy them. This is done with either cold water flushing or boiling. How it is done depends on the amount of tannins -- and resulting bitterness -- in the nuts you’re dealing with. How and why this is done is discussed in some detail here.
Ironically, one of the uses for the brown water left after the boiling method is to use it as a traditional remedy in the relief of poison oak blisters. Since poison oak often grows near or in the shade of oak trees, having this natural remedy so close at hand seems like another one of nature’s signs that she’s looking out for us!
Meanwhile, if you’d like to share in some of our bounty, call Laura at 805-769-8699 to schedule a visit.