Live Oak Tree Acorn Traditions
The mighty live oak has captured the hearts and minds of many cultures throughout the ages, with several, like the pagans, actually worshiping trees. It’s not that great a surprise when you realize that oak trees are useful in building, homeopathy, and even as a food source!
That last use has been common in Europe, where it provides a simple food source during times of famine. While it’s said bread made from it is less than delicious, a full belly when there is food shortages would make it a major comfort despite it’s taste. However, you can expect to spend a lot of time prepping the acorns before you can grind them to make edible flour. This is because of the tannin within the acorn. It’s both poisonous and bitter, so you definitely want to leech it out before even thinking about using it! However, you’ll need to prepare the acorns before you can start leeching out the tannin.
If you think it might be fun to make your own flour from a live oak tree, you’ll likely want to choose the American Oak over the English Oak—it contains significantly less tannin, so the acorns require less leeching time. I would not try it unless you know what you are doing!
Making Acorn Flour
The first thing you’ll want to do is pop them in the oven. Just place the acorns on a tray and use a very low heat to both dry them out, and to kill any bugs that might be present. So appetizing… this will get you ready for the first of the time consuming tasks you’ll need to accomplish for your acorn flour.
Take your dried acorns, and crack the shells off. Only once the shells have been removed is leeching going to do you any good. Now you can finally begin the leeching process, which is time consuming but extremely simple. It’s a matter of soaking the shelled acorns in water for as much as two weeks. Changing the water at least twice a day is also required to maximize tannin removal. After a few days, you can test them by simply biting into one to see if it’s still bitter. If it is, soak them longer.
After that, it’s a simple matter of grinding it into flour or meal, depending on how you prefer to make it. The best part is you don’t have to wait on more drying time—you simply grind them up while wet, then set them in the sun or in the oven on a very low setting to dry them out again.
Obviously it’s best to store this flour in jars with lids. To use it in your favorite recipes, just use it in place of traditional white flour and enjoy! The taste may take a bit to get used to, but you have to love getting something for free.
There are many old traditions related to Live Oak trees. One of those traditions concentrates on the fall, when the oak leaves begin to drop in the cooler climates. It is said that going out and catching a falling oak leaf will provide you with tremendous luck and prosperity during the coming year. Another belief is that you will not catch a cold that winter if you do so.
It is not hard to see what many cultures through the ages have seen in live oak trees. They are not only simply a beautiful tree, they can also supply us with much of what we need, including shade or acorns, and just maybe a little bit of good fortune. One thing is clear—with so much majesty and many uses, the precious live oak tree will be around for many generations to come.
Southern Pride Tree Farm grows Highrise Live Oaks, Cathedral Live Oaks, and Standard Live Oaks at wholesale prices. If you need a mature landscaping tree you can buy your live oak direct through owner Jimmy Gray, and his wife Terry Gray.
Photo. David Hill