Thursday, October 17, 2013

Acorns

One of our cooks brought in a large bag of freshly harvested acorns from the Southern Sierras today.  They are beautiful specimens, large and heavy with a meaty interior.  This week we are going to work on making pasta using toasted acorn flour.  Two fun facts about acorns:

- Often times you will see certain jays and squirrels burying food.  I have always thought they were rationing it for the winter, but it turns out there may be a more important motivation.   Burying acorns in the wet earth helps leach tannins from the nut, so an acorn that has been buried for several months will taste better than a freshly harvested one.  Tannins, besides tasting bitter, also inhibit humans and animals from metabolizing proteins.

- Oaks are finicky trees and some species only produce nuts sporadically every few years.  Native Americans would use controlled fires to clear the area below the oak trees, simultaneously fertilizing, eliminating pests and competing plants.  This practice helped boost the yearly acorn harvest.  From my own experience walking around Post Ranch, I have noticed that loan oak trees tend to have far more acorns than oak trees growing in close proximity to each other.

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