Did you know you can turn acorns into an edible flour? Acorns are very bitter with tannins if you try to eat them raw. The process of turning acorns into flour will be a tedious one the first time. But just like shelling walnuts, each time is easier. The trick is to shell the acorns and then soak them in several changes of clean water until all the tannins have leached out. Once the bitter part has been removed it is time to bake them and then grind them into flour. Acorn flour is nutritious and makes tasty breads and cookies.
There are many other unique food items just waiting to be discovered at our feet if we are willing and eager to go to the trouble of collecting, cleaning, and processing our food. Many nuts and fruits are edible. It is always a joy to happen upon an arboreal offering of ripe fruit or nuts. I feel so lucky when I find a ripe pawpaw to eat. We can also prepare for these harvests by planting the trees that produce the things we like to eat in our yards.
Mushrooms are a fun item to collect out in the woods or to grow at home. It is always a thrill to discover a patch of morels or chicken of the woods. Mushroom spores can be bought and inoculated into logs to be harvested. Mushroom logs can be arranged in decorative patterns in the shady landscape while we wait for the fruits to ripen.
When I’m out hiking, I often end up with a little velcro triangle seed called beggars ticks stuck to my pants. When the seeds are green I like to peel off the outer capsule and eat the bean inside as a little trail snack. I wouldn’t want to depend on this seed for sustenance, but while hiking, it is a simple thing to do for amusement.
A good source of protein is to try eating insects. I have tried fried worms and grubs, and with enough salt they taste fine. Common insects to eat are cicadas, grasshoppers, crickets, grubs, and worms. Other cultures are much more open to eating insects than ours but we are missing out on a whole variety of interesting foods. I don’t have any recipes to share but I’m willing to experiment with eating insects.
Foraging etiquette dictates that you only take a small portion of the harvest you find and leave the rest to reproduce into next year’s harvest. Responsible foraging allows wild populations to fulfill their role in the ecosystem and withstand the pressures of harvesting. Growing favorite foraging crops at home is a way to insure they are harvested sustainably.