Tasting the Wild Food Forest in Fall-Oak Nuts, Pine Nuts & Madrone

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Growing, collecting and cooking with wild food allows us to cultivate a sense of place—a deep awareness of the land we call home.  Learn how to collect and prepare wild foods this fall, including discovering the simplest way to turn oak nuts (acorns) into flour. Find out about how to use Rose Hips, California Bay, and antioxidant-rich Toyon and Madrone berries to create nutritious, native-food recipes.

Here are a few of my favorite fall ingredients–

Oak Nut Flour (acorns)

Oak Nut Flour (acorns)

Oak Nuts

Oak nut flour is gluten-free and adds a good source of nutrition to any recipe, with higher amounts of essential fatty acids, folate, potassium, Vitamin A and calcium compared to wheat flour. It is denser than wheat flour and combines well with other types of gluten-free flour.

Leaching Acorns to Prepare Oak Nut Flour

Seasoning Acorns Just like a fine wine, acorns are

better when aged. According to Maidu Indian knowledge,

acorns should be cured for approximately a year before

leaching. This can be done by keeping them in a dry, well-ventilated

basket and shaking them at least once a month

to rotate the acorns. Curing dries the acorns and allows the

red skins covering the nut to come off easily. The red skins

contain high quantities of bitter tannins so this process also

shortens the leaching time. Heat shelled acorns at 200o for

10 minutes prior to grinding to easily remove the red skins.

 

Oak Nuts - Leaching with Glass Jar Method

Oak Nuts – Leaching with Glass Jar Method

Glass jar Method

– Estimated Time: 1 – 2 weeks. This is the simplest

method but takes the longest amount of time.

– Shell acorns using a hammer and remove thin red

skin.

– Grind to a fine powder in food processor.

– Place in a mason jar, cover with water, and label

with the expected completion date.

– Change water daily until clear, tasting for lack of

bitterness.

Note

– After leaching, dry the flour in the sun for several days

or bake at 250 for 30 minutes.

– Grind nuts finely, if using for flour.

– Use immediately, refrigerate or freeze for future use,

as Oak nuts are perishable.

TIP For added flavor and nutrition, try sprouted Oak

nuts. Soak in a glass jar for 2 days, then cover jar with

cheesecloth and rinse twice daily until sprouts begin to

emerge.

Pine Nuts

Pine Nut Cracking & Eating

Pine Nut Cracking & Eating

Shelling Pine Nuts

– Gather cones when tightly closed or when seeds are visible inside slightly open cones. Store in a burlap sack (or pillowcase) in the sun or by a heat source until they open. You can also just let them sit, safe from squirrels, and they will eventually open on their own.

– Remove seeds by shaking the bag or banging the bag against a hard surface.

– Shell seeds by lightly tapping with a hammer or between two rocks. Another

method is to place seeds into a plastic bag, removing any air, and press down

with a rolling pin to crack the nuts.

 

Pine Nut Fritters

(Vegan, Gluten-Free) Collect nuts in fall.

4 cups cooked couscous

2 cups toasted Pine nuts

1/2 cup steamed and chopped Nettles (or chopped

spinach)

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tsp chopped California Bay leaves

3 garlic cloves

 

Method

– In blender, puree 1/2 cup of the Pine nuts with

garlic and lemon juice until thick. If needed,

add water or veggie stock a tbsp at a time to

pur.e and make smooth.

– Combine with the chopped spinach, rosemary,

couscous, and season to taste.

– Form into 2 oz cakes and saute in extra virgin olive oil.

Wild Grape Butter

Grape Butter Collect ripe fruit in fall.

Native Grapes (Vitis californica)

Local honey

Method

– Cook berries on low heat in pot for 15 minutes

and crush them when they start to soften.

– Strain through cheesecloth.

– Add an equal amount of local honey to the

berry juice.

– Reheat, stirring often, for about 20 minutes or until

thick and pour into in sterilized jars to can.

Rose Hips

Rose Hip Tea Collect hips in early winter.

2 tbsp fresh or 2 tsp dried Rose hips per cup of water

Method

– Remove stems and ends.

– Cover with water and boil for 20 minutes.

– Strain through a colander into a bowl and set

aside Rose hips.

– Serve hot or cold.

TIP After making tea, add used Rose hips to soups or

serve as a side dish. To dry Rose hips, place a single

layer on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper, and

keep in a dark, ventilated area for several weeks.

Madrone Berries Collect berries in late fall.

FRESH/Dried/FROZEN For best flavor, harvest when bright

red (not orange), often after a frost. Since Madrone trees

are tall when they are mature and producing fruit, collect

berries from the ground or use a long clipper to reach

berries growing on high branches.

Toyon Berries - Ground as Spice

Toyon Berries – Ground as Spice

Toyon Cider Collect berries in winter.

Method

– Cover dried berries with water.

– Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 – 30 minutes

while crushing berries.

– Strain and sweeten as desired.

TIP Toyon cider has a wonderful aroma and color. Fresh berries can be used, but dried berries are much sweeter.

 

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