Can Oak trees provide us a useful food source?

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Are Acorns EdibleAre Acorns Edible? Can Humans Eat Acorns? Are Acorns Poisonous? 

Today We’re going to get to the bottom of these questions and more…

Fall is harvest season.

Late summers and early fall are a whirlwind for anyone who hunts, fishes, gardens, and forages.

The time of year when everything becomes available all at once. The last chance we have to stockpile food resources for the coming winter.

Making it one of the busiest times of the year for those who have the proper set of self-reliance skills.

I know I’ve been busy because my pantry is nearly filled to capacity but we still have several months left to top it off.

But I’m still way short on one crucial dietary need…

Carbs.

Yes, carbs, the “bad guy” in just about every new diet out there.

Why? Because carbohydrates are one of the easiest sources of energy for the human body to digest.

Simple carbs like honey and sugar can enter your bloodstream quickly. These provide a near instant boost of energy and mental agility when you’re starting to fade.

More complex carbs from whole grains provide a longer lasting source of energy. Making grain-based carbs better for extended periods of activity.

And a healthy body does require some carbs, just not as much as most of us consume on a daily basis.

Because if you regularly consume excess carbs (more than the body needs), your body will ultimately turn those extra carbs into fat.

Carbs are hard to avoid in the grocery store, so most of us end up on diets high in carbs.

As we all know, storing lots of fat is unhealthy. So in modern society carbs tend to get a bad wrap.

But what most people don’t realize – carbs are difficult to find in nature.

That’s not to say there aren’t wild carbohydrates out there for a savvy forager.

One of the most common wild edibles is something you’ve passed on countless walks and never considered a food source.

Acorns!

As A Way To Introduce You To Skilled Survival, We’re Giving Away Our Family First Food Planning Guide. Click Here To Get Your FREE Copy Of It.

Homemade acorn flour in wooden bowl

ARE ACORNS EDIBLE? 


Yes, they are, but eating acorns is a hotly debated topic.

Anytime someone suggests acorns are a viable food source, someone else is claiming they’re poisonous.

And if you’ve ever taken a bite of one, you might be inclined to believe them. In fact, raw acorns taste TERRIBLE!

They’re incredibly bitter due to the high levels of tannins. And they will leave your mouth feeling dried out and chalky.

In fact, some studies show consuming a large number of raw acorns often can lead health issues:

Side-Effects & Allergies of Raw Acorns

Acorn poisoning, or oak toxicity, occurs when too many raw acorns or buds are ingested, and creates gastrointestinal and kidney problems. Excessive consumption of these raw nuts can also cause nausea due to the tannin content.

Despite all that, there are some legitimate health benefits for acorns as a food source (see Health Benefits diagram below).

Health Benefits Of AcornsLike many nuts and seeds, they’re basically a small packet of fats, carbs, and protein.

So in a worst case survival emergency, eating acorns as a “last resort” might be better than starving.

But, what if there was a way to get around the less pleasant aspects of eating acorns?

If there were a way, then they’d become a viable long-term human food source.

A natural way to provide some healthy critical, complex carbs! Well, guess what, there is a way!

So if you want to consume acorns without the side effects, you must learn how to process acorns properly.

It comes down to knowing how to pick the right acorns to harvest and how to process them afterward. You can make three different consumable end products from acorns:

  • 1) Acorn Flour
  • 2) Acorn Meal
  • 3) Acorn Oil

So let’s get started.

Fruit of an Oak tree ripe in autumn, on a sunny day

TYPES OF OAK TREES AND ACORNS


Acorns grow on oak trees, and there are hundreds of unique species of oak trees. So that means, there are a vast variety of acorns available in the world.

So not all acorns are the same.

Each specific acorns have a different ratio of fat/carbs/protein.

This ratio helps determines the best way to process them into a food source.

So it’s worth taking some time to learn which oaks grow in your area and how to tell them apart.

The best time of year to identify an acorn species is to start early in the spring. That’s when you can take note of the small green acorns forming in the trees.

Now you can compare these “young” acorns, as well as the new leaves and bark. You can then use a good tree guide and to see which oak species match for your area.

Even if you can’t figure out the exact species, knowing a red oak from a white oak can be helpful, as you can see in the chart below.

Acorn Characteristics

This allows you to determine how to proceed with your harvested acorns.

Some of the best acorns for harvest are those considered “sweet” – meaning they’re low in tannins.

These include Valley, Blue, White, Pin, Burr, and Emory oaks. These types are great for producing both acorn flour and acorn meal.

Many of these species also produce large acorns, which means fewer to peel when the time comes!

Red, black and live oaks produce acorns extremely high in fat content. So they’re often better suited for pressing into acorn oil.

Yes, it’s still possible to make acorn meal from them as, but the high-fat content limits their storage life.

White Oak Acorn Caps

HARVESTING ACORNS


Once acorns begin to fall from the tree, it’s time to harvest!

If you’re lucky, the ground under your oak trees is clear, and you can gather them up by the handful.

If you’re “really” lucky (like I was this year), your oak tree is growing in a parking lot island. So the acorns fall on the pavement and can be swept up with ease!

I gathered about 50lbs of acorns in just a few minutes!

This is the best way to get a ton of acorns fast – so check out your local parks and parking areas! Many cities have mature oak trees dropping thousands of acorns in parking lots.

AcornWeevil

An Acorn Weevil

While harvesting, pay attention to split or damaged acorns, as well as any that have a small hole in the shell.

Splits and other damage allow water to get inside or the acorn “meat” to dry out. And a small hole is a clear sign of an oak weevil larvae and a rotten acorn.

Toss these acorns out; it’s not worth processing them; plus oak weevil larvae are just gross!

As A Way To Introduce You To Skilled Survival, We’re Giving Away Our Family First Food Planning Guide. Click Here To Get Your FREE Copy Of It.

SHELLING AND CLEANING ACORNS


After you get your harvest home, there’s a couple of ways to remove the tannins and get rid of the bitterness.

The best way is to cold-leach them in water.

This is a long and time-consuming process. But it gives better results than boiling them (another common method).

Well, be sharing the cold-leach process…

Cold Leaching

The best way to learn the cold-leaching process is to watch this excellent video from Suburban Foragers; if you can’t watch a video right now, then read on and we’ll explain how to do it.

First, you’ll need to shell all your acorns.

If you’re working with fresh acorns, this can be difficult since the shells are pliable and soft. These little suckers don’t come off without a fight!

Mature shells have had a chance to harden so you can crack or cut the shells open.

Either way, once the shell is removed, you’ll find the acorn wrapped in a dark “skin.” This outer skin also needs to be removed.

This skin contains most of the tannins, so try to pick off as much as possible.

If you’ve got dried acorns instead of fresh ones, the shells will be easier to remove. However, the skin inside will be much more difficult.

It’s easier to remove the skins from fresh acorns.

To help, shell them in water and allowing them to soak for 10-15 minutes. This softens the skin and makes it easier to remove.

I’ve also heard others claim the easiest way to remove the skins is to freeze fresh acorns for several days.

Once frozen, thaw them. Now cracking the acorn will be much easier, and the process makes the skins slide right off.

I haven’t had a chance to try this yet, but I will next year! Getting rid of the skins is the worst part!

Once skinned, immediately toss each cleaned one into a bowl of cold water before they oxidize.

Soaking won’t change the flavor profile of your acorn flour, but it lightens the color. This helps your acorn flour look more appetizing when processing is complete.

PROCESSING AND LEACHING


Once you have all your acorns shelled and cleaned, the hard work is over. But the time-consuming part has just begun!

Use a strong blender or food processor and liquify the acorn meats. I used equal parts acorns and water in my food processor, and it worked out to a thick soup consistency.

Work in small batches and collect them in a large glass jar (think giant pickle jar or 1-gallon mason jar).

With all your acorns blended and the jar full, put the cap on and give it a vigorous shake to mix it up. Then store it in a cool (below 70deg), dark location (fridge, basement, garage, etc.) and let it sit overnight.

The next morning, you’ll find that the acorn solids have settled to the bottom.

Next, carefully open the lid and pour out the surface water out. Do this without disturbing the acorn submerged solids.

Now, refill the jar with fresh cold water, screw the cap on tight and give it another shake before putting it back!

Repeat this process daily.

This cold-leach process removes much of the remaining tannins and bitter chemicals. These tannins and chemicals slowly leach out into the water little by little each day.

But how will you know when it’s done?

After a few days, give the solids a small taste.

If they’re bland, the leaching process is complete. If the solids are still bitter, go a few more days and taste again…

DRYING AND GRINDING


When the leaching process is complete, you’ll need to dry and grind the resulting flour before you can use it.

Line a strainer with fine cheesecloth and pour the acorn mixture into it.

Let it drain through the strainer until it stops.

Then wrap the cheesecloth tight and carefully squeeze the rest of the water out of the acorns.

Spread the wet acorn meal in a thin layer on cookie sheets or flat pans. Now use a food dehydrator (or your oven on low heat) to dry the meal thoroughly.

This can take several hours or even overnight, but be sure to get it as dry as possible.

Once the acorn meal is entirely dehydrated, you have 2 options:

  1. use it as is – a coarse-textured “corn” meal (like cornmeal)
  2. or grind it further to make acorn flour

Again, a food processor or blender will work to turn the meal into flour, as will a small coffee grinder. But consider getting a quality flour mill if you want to process acorn flour often.

Finally, sift the ground meal to get a clean, fine acorn flour.

STORING ACORN FLOUR


Acorn flour is generally higher in fat than other meals and is more prone to going rancid in warm temps.

So, it’s best to store it in tightly sealed jars (or mylar bags with oxygen absorbers) and to keep it refrigerated – similar to storing all other types of emergency survival foods.

If you’re not going to use it in the next few days, put it in the freezer to be safe.

USING ACORN FLOUR


Acorn flour has a slightly nutty taste and sweet in a mild way.

It’s obviously gluten-free (no wheat = no gluten) and can be used in place of many other gluten-free flours.

This also means it’s not going to rise the way traditional wheat flour will.

But it fine for dense baked goods (such as cookies or bars). It also works well as a base to sauces or a soup thickener.

You can also mix it with regular flour to cut the acorn taste. And this mix helps retain some of the benefits of traditional wheat flours.

So CAN You Eat Acorns? Yes, you can.

WRAP UP


If you’re still seeing acorns on the ground, it’s time to add another foraged food source to your food supplies.

They’re plentiful and nutritious as long as you take the time to process them correctly.

From what I’ve seen, there’s not a lot of (human) competition for a big acorn haul, making acorns a good “last resort” type prepper food.

But you might have to fight off a lot of angry squirrels!

Jason K.

P.s. Do you know where the closest nuclear bunker is from your home?

There are a lot of natural nuclear shelters in the US that are absolutely free. And one of them is near your home.

Click on the image above to find out where you need to take shelter.

The post How To Harvest, Process, and Eat Acorns With Ease appeared first on Skilled Survival.

How To Heat A Greenhouse In Winter

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Survival Prepping http://www.theprepperjournal.com/2018/11/30/how-to-heat-a-greenhouse-without-electricity/

Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Heating a greenhouse helps protect plants from the ravages of the harsh winter weather. However, it can cost an arm and a leg trying to do so. Wondering how to heat a greenhouse in winter? Read on to find out!

Greenhouses provide the means to prolong the growing season and create an ideal environment for plants that require more heat during cold seasons. They work by trapping the warmth emitted by the sun using layers of greenhouse grade glass or plastic. The trapped warmth helps to extend growing conditions by providing warmth for the crops.

During winter, warmness can be lost through various ways making it hard to maintain the optimum temperature for growing plants in a greenhouse. For many growers, it is not economical to heat a greenhouse with electricity since the cost can sometimes be higher than the value of the plants. Fortunately, there are several ways in which you can build a winter greenhouse without adding to your energy bill. Let us consider some easy greenhouse ideas and affordable techniques to heat your greenhouse without electricity.

How to Heat a Greenhouse in Winter

Passive Solar Heating

Greenhouses, hoop houses, and cold frames depend on passive solar heating to keep the temperatures up. The heat radiating from the sun penetrates the plastic or glass and is trapped in between the panels. For this to work, your greenhouse must be strategically placed to capture the maximum amount of solar energy. Most scientists recommend that the greenhouse is oriented towards the south.

In addition to that, you must use materials that allow most of the light in such as poly-carbonate products. Next, you must insulate your greenhouse to prevent heat loss. Finally, for your passive solar heating system to work, you must have a way to store the heat absorbed during the day and release it at night. Heat sinks are one of the best tools to serve this purpose.

Heat sinks use water to trap warmth and release it slowly. There are numerous advantages to using water for heat sinks. One of them is that water can hold up to four times more heat than air. It is readily available and a more economical way of heating without electricity or gas. At night, as the temperature plummets, the heat absorbed by the water vessels is lost into the greenhouse. Therefore, the temperature inside the greenhouse is a few degrees warmer than the outside, even during cold months. All this without electricity!

Use Concrete to Heat Without Electricity

Another method of trapping heat without electricity is using concrete or rock. The concrete acts as a thermal mass to absorb heat. It is best placed at the wall opposite to where the sunlight penetrates through the plant house. The release of this heat helps to keep the plants warmer during the cold winter season thus efficiently playing the role of electricity at a much cheaper price.

Heating with Compost

Building indoor compost is an easy greenhouse idea. It is cost effective and uses the readily available organic material. The bacteria that break down organic material generates a considerable amount of heat that can be circulated throughout the greenhouse.

Wondering how to produce heat without electricity? Well, the compost heating system relies on heat exchange. Tubes filled with air or water is buried beneath the compost pile. Compost will not only heat your plant house but also contribute to the fertility of your soil, thus offer you the best greenhouse conditions.

The disadvantage with this method is that a large compost pile is needed to generate enough heat for the greenhouse. Therefore, composting is a heating solution that is more effective in farms with large amounts of organic waste.

Another technique to utilize compost is the hotbed technique for small-scale farmers. It involves digging a pit, preferably two feet deep and six feet wide. Then fill the hole with manure, wet it and let it sit for a few days while frequently turning the manure. Once it is hot, cover with soil and plant the seedlings you want to grow in a greenhouse.

Rocket Mass Heaters

A rocket mass heater is a high-performance burner that is encased with a thermal mass such as ceramic, brick or stone. As the rocket mass heater is being heated, it transfers heat to the thermal mass which retains the heat hours after the fire is extinguished.

The burner uses wood for fuel and is up to eight times more efficient than a conventional stove. Combustion in the burner is complete due to the increased draft in the burning chamber. For this reason, it is environment-friendly since it uses less amount of fuel and produces less smoke. Therefore, it is an effective way of heating without electricity or gas.

Shared Heat

Another creative idea on how to heat a greenhouse during winter is constructing it against a building with which it can exchange heat. An example of this is building a winter greenhouse against a huge chicken coop. Heat produced by the chicken will warm the greenhouse and vice versa. The trick is to ensure temperature exchange during cold seasons and limit the transfer during summer. During warm seasons, you can restrict heat exchange through ventilation

Conclusion

Keeping your greenhouse warm is crucial if you want your plants to survive the winter. Since now you are well versed with the different techniques of heating a greenhouse without electricity, experiment and see what works best for you. Observe your greenhouse and know where you can make adjustments or additions. You can also combine several techniques for more productive results.

Did you benefit our tips on how to keep a greenhouse warm in winter helpful? Any more tips on how to heat a greenhouse in winter that you can add? Let us know in the comment section below.

Author’s Bio: Tommy is a content writer and gardener. He studied landscape architecture  at the Cornell University. Apart from writing and garden he loves sport, travel and even craft. Find him on LinkedIn.

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The post How to Heat a Greenhouse Without Electricity appeared first on The Prepper Journal.

Are you truly prepared?

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I grew up in a fairly sheltered environment, most of the time living in a small town atmosphere.  I was taught to work hard, and to be prepared.  It wasn’t a SHTF scenario, but was taught that we need to be self reliant, and that meant having storage of food and other necessities to last for several months if necessary.  As it turns out, the storage was not needed when I was growing up, but it certainly came in handy when, as a young married adult I was injured and unable to work.  With a wife and a few small children it was reassuring to have food, toiletries, paper goods, and cleaning supplies to keep us going until I was able to provide once more. Now, with all of the natural disasters and world-wide political unrest, it seems that being prepared to survive whatever comes our way would be prudent.

Top 7 EDC Mistakes to Avoid

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by Charles

EDC is more than just an acronym for a collection of s… Read More

Military Phonetic Alphabet is Must Know for Preppers

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Learning the phonetic alphabet will keep others from using that information… Read More

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