Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Acorns Shelled

(Click to enlarge)

I spent part of last evening shelling sawtooth oak (Quercus acutissima) acorns with my son.  My method: Crack the shell with a garlic press and then peel by hand.  His preferred method: Smash the acorn with a meat tenderizer, then sort out the fragments.  His way looked like more fun (until it came time to clean up, when he disappeared faster than Houdini).  On an unrelated note, does anyone know how to remove acorn shell fragments from under thumbnails?

Tonight they will be boiled to leach out the tannins, dried and ground into meal.  Tomorrow they will be cookies.  Tomorrow night my short term memory will stop deteriorating.  Friday morning I will still forget to put out the garbage.

Many Forest Service and other academic/governmental bulletins in the USA state that sawtooth oak acorns are very bitter.  Those same bulletins, however, state that the acorns are highly valued by wildlife, especially wild turkeys and whitetail deer.  In the meantime, Koreans are clearly eating sawtooth acorns by the truckload.  Something doesn't add up.

My suspicion is that this is a bit of arboreal xenophobia; sawtooth oak is an exotic and potentially invasive species.  While acknowledging its benefits for wildlife (because not to do so would be to lose all credibility) the authors of these bulletins don't want to encourage the planting and potential naturalization of sawtooth oak.

But that's an issue for another day.  The issue for today (or at least tomorrow): cookies!

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