Michigan’s Acorns Can Be Toxic and Tasty for Humans
I don't know much about acorns, here's what I do know. It's cool to pick up the cap from the acorn and use it as a whistle. Acorns hurt really bad when you step on them with your barefeet in the yard. Acorns are a source of food for wildlife.
Why are acorns important?
Acorns play an important role in forest ecology when oaks are plentiful or dominant in the landscape. The volume of the acorn crop may vary widely, creating great abundance or great stress on the many animals dependent on acorns and the predators of those animals. Acorns, along with other nuts, are termed mast. Wildlife that consume acorns as an important part of their diets include birds, such as jays, pigeons, some ducks, and several species of woodpeckers. Small mammals that feed on acorns include mice, squirrels and several other rodents.
Our home is surrounded by oak trees. We have all of the birds listed above in our yard. The squirrels have cashed in on our acorn crop. We also have plenty of wildlife that stroll through our neighborhood. Deer love it.
Acorns might be tasty? Can humans eat acorns?
How awesome would it be for your family to come over during the holidays and you could offer them roasted acorns instead of chestnuts? Sounds good unless someone dies from eating the acorns. Death might be extreme.
Woodland Trust says:
Raw acorns contain tannins which can be toxic to humans and cause an unpleasant bitter taste. They are also poisonous to horses, cattle and dogs. But by leaching acorns to remove the tannin, they can be made safe for human consumption.
Ok, I want to try acorns, safely! What is leaching and how do I do it?
If you want to try acorns, you have to remove the tanin so you don't die. Here's how you do it.
- Shell your acorns. This can be fiddly and some claim it helps if you freeze them first, or use acorns collected in previous years.
- Soak the shelled acorns in hot or cold water.
- Once the water turns brown, drain it off and soak again in fresh hot or cold water.
- Repeat this process until the water is clear.
Now the acorns are safe for human consumption. What kind of recipes are you going to try? You can roast acorns, grind them into flour or even make acorn brittle.
It's my understanding that roasted acorns don't taste like chicken. They are rumored to have a sweet, nutty taste. Enjoy.