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Thread: Foraging and Existing with Nature

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    United States Avalon Member Geophyz's Avatar
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    Default Foraging and Existing with Nature

    This is my first attempt at a new thread so bear with me!

    As you may or may not know, I live in the woods, pretty far from any significant town. I try to exist in harmony with nature and live off my land! Someone asked me to post how to make acorn cookies so I am going to start there!

    Oak trees do not produce acorns every year where I live but this year was a bumper crop so I decided to not let them all go to the deer and other natives! Acorns are rich in Vitamin C and A and a very good source of protein and fibre and carbs. They have a wonderful nutty taste when prepared correctly.

    The first think you have to do is find an oak tree dropping acorns and pick a batch. Do NOT pick green ones. They are not mature. Try to get the ones with the caps on, which usually means no insects have gotten into them.

    Take them home and give them a rinse in cold water. Pick out any that float, they are bad. After I rinse them good I leave them in the colander and let them dry. Then I pick off the caps.

    Acorns have a bitter tannin in them that you must leach off. To do this I put two large pots of water on the stove to boil. Put the acorns in the first pot, boil them until the water looks like tea. Drain and immediately put them in the second pot of boiling water. Do not let them cool. Fill the first pot with fresh water and put on the fire to boil. Continue doing this until the water no longer looks like tea after boiling. This process usually takes about an hour.

    Spread the acorns on a cookie sheet to dry in a warm place. Be careful putting them outside...especially if you have wildlife.....I speak from experience. You can also put them in a dehydrator set on low heat.

    After they have dried you can roast some in the oven at 350 for about an hour until they turn dark brown. Add sea salt and eat. You can add them to trail mix.

    You can also grind them up and make a wonderful nutty flour. I hand grind mine but you can put them a little at a time in the blender and grind them, then set the flour out to dry good before storing. I store my flour in a mason jar in the fridge just like regular flour.

    I also make acorn flour cookies! I will start the recipes in my next posting!

    Enjoy!

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    Romania Avalon Member Anka's Avatar
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    Default Re: Foraging and Existing with Nature

    I'm the first in line for cakes.
    I'm a cookies "monster"
    I make cakes too, but they are always tastier elsewhere...
    If I could, I would organize a kind of global "cake exchange" holiday.
    I look forward to your cakes!


    Love,
    Anka
    Last edited by Anka; 2nd March 2020 at 23:59.
    Every human is a question asked to the Spirit of the Universe,again and again,because every human is an endless row of humans and in all humans together dwelling the Great Human Spirit.

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    United States Moderator Sarah Rainsong's Avatar
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    Default Re: Foraging and Existing with Nature

    Do you peel or shell the acorns? I know that there's a bit of shell over the meat, but not as hard as, say, pecans.

    ETA: Does it matter what kind of acorns? Is there a preferred variety? (According to my brother who likes to hunt, deer prefer a certain type...white oak, I think...over others.)

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    United States Avalon Member mpennery's Avatar
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    Default Re: Foraging and Existing with Nature

    Great thread!
    Not to derail the cookie discussion 😁 but I have a friend in this grand metropolis of Lexington, Ky, who is a professional herbalist (has his own practice and also teaches for the University of Ky). As an experiment he spent an entire year eating only what he could find on his walks and bike rides around the city...and gained weight! He’s pretty skinny anyway but that was amazing I thought. I never looked at my yard the same after. 😅

    Matt
    Fear is simply a consequence of a lack of information.

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    United States Avalon Member Geophyz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Foraging and Existing with Nature

    Quote Posted by rainsong (here)
    Do you peel or shell the acorns? I know that there's a bit of shell over the meat, but not as hard as, say, pecans.

    ETA: Does it matter what kind of acorns? Is there a preferred variety? (According to my brother who likes to hunt, deer prefer a certain type...white oak, I think...over others.)
    Sorry I left that out. I shell them after the first drying before I boil them! I have Live Oak, White Oak, Post Oak and Spanish Oak and I use the acorns from all three! I used to separate them but now I grind them together, each has a slightly different taste!

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    United States Avalon Member Geophyz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Foraging and Existing with Nature

    Acorn Cookies

    1 stick unsalted butter, softened
    5/8 cup sugar (I usually substitute honey for sugar)
    1/4 teaspoon vanilla
    1 tsp cinnamon
    1 egg
    1 1/2 cups cold leached acorn flour (Some people say add normal flour but I do not)
    1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon salt

    Cream the butter, honey, salt, cinnamon and vanilla together. Drop in the egg and mix until the batter is lump free, about a minute. Add the flour and baking soda and mix just until the flour is completely moistened.
    Drop 2 inch balls onto cookie sheets with plenty of room for the cookies to spread out.

    Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from cookie sheet to a cooling rack after about 5 minutes.

    Makes 1 dozen cookies

    I tend to experiment when I cook. I added Rosemary to some of the cookies--mostly because I love the taste. You can add chocolate if you like. Sometimes I add a little coffee.

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    United States Avalon Member Geophyz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Foraging and Existing with Nature

    Making Wild-Foraged Mead

    Mead is simply simply fermented honey and water and is possibly the oldest fermented drink. The process for fermenting and aging mead is simple and can be done with only standard household equipment and ingredients from your garden or foraged from the wild.

    Mead, requires yeast to ferment. "For ancient peoples, yeast strains were first acquired from wild yeasts that floated through the air and thrived in abundance on fruits, flowers, and vegetables used as ingredients. When a particularly powerful and flavorful yeast strain (or more likely, combination of several strains) was found, it was saved by either using a portion of an actively fermenting batch to start the next batch, or by re-using the unwashed fermentation vessel, the interior of which would be caked with yeast strains leftover from previous batches. Another technique was to take a fresh log, usually juniper or birch, set it out to dry and develop cracks, and then drop it into the bottom of a new batch of mead. From then on, it would collect yeast in its cracks or in runes carved into its surface." (Zimmerman, Making Mead Like a Viking). I personally uses the branches of cedar trees to get my yeast. Make note that I do not use any pesticides or herbicides anywhere on my land. My water comes from a well and anything you spray on the land winds up in the water table.

    INGREDIENTS
    .9 to 1.3 kg or about 946 ml (2 to 3 pounds or about 1 quart) raw, unfiltered local honey
    3.8 liters (1 gallon) of good clean, non-chlorinated water
    8-10 organic raisins (for wild yeast, tannins and nutrients) I substitute cedar berries for cedar mead (good for cedar fever) or dandelions (good for hay fever, also makes you very calm) or Milk thistle blossoms (good to detox your liver and boost your immune system) or Rosemary (because I love Rosemary, it is also a diuretic, be careful with Rosemary mead, it can raise your blood pressure)
    A couple squeezes of a lemon or orange

    EQUIPMENT
    A wide-mouthed ceramic, glass or food-grade plastic fermentation vessel (3-5 gallons); do not use metal
    A stir stick or a wooden spoon
    Cheesecloth or another porous cloth large enough to cover the mouth of your fermentation vessel

    Clean all equipment thoroughly. Because I use natural fermentation I do not use harsh chemicals to clean my equipment. Again, living in the forest you must be aware that everything goes back into the earth, you have to be very careful what you are using to make sure only natural substances are returned to the ground.

    Mix water and honey in a wide-mouthed vessel. Room-temperature water and honey are already at the ideal temperature for fermentation. You can warm the water to help dissolve the honey, but don’t boil or pasteurize, as this kills off wild yeast and nutrients.

    Add flavoring and fermentation-enhancing ingredients. Mead requires nutrients, tannin, and acid to give it body. Use these sparingly unless you want to add extra for flavor. All of these occur naturally in wild botanicals. Organic fruit, vegetables, edible flowers and more can be used. Small amounts of any citrus fruit (a couple squeezes per 3.8 liters/gallon) will provide acid. For tannin, an oak or cedar leaf (or grape) can be used. I am experimenting with Bay leaf from my tree to see how it works. Be careful adding herbs and spices, they can quickly become overpowering.

    Once you’ve mixed in your initial ingredients, set the vessel in a warm (15–27° C or 60–80° F) dark room, and stir vigorously for a couple of minutes several times a day. This aerates the mead, helping to incorporate wild yeast and ensuring a strong fermentation. Cover the vessel with a clean cloth when not in use. Tie the cloth tightly around the opening to keep out fruit flies and ants. Most fruits will cause a vigorous, foamy fermentation, while other ingredients will be more akin to opening a carbonated beverage; i.e., the mead will be bubbly and will continue to fizz after stirring. You have to be careful with this, I have had mead explode on me. Make sure your vessel is big enough to handle the expansion. I continue this process for several days.

    Now you are ready to transfer your mead into a narrow neck jug. You need to purchase an air lock from your local home brew store. The goal is to allow the CO2 produced by fermentation to escape and to keep outside air from entering and turning the mead to vinegar. I know people who use a balloon but I have never mastered that technique.

    Many people say meads were often "drunk young", meaning you can drink the mead at any point now if you like the flavor. It will be sweet and bubbly and at around 5-6% alcohol. I prefer to age mine a bit longer to a little higher alcohol (10-12%) and to enhance the medicinal benefits. My cedar mead usually ages for 6 to 8 weeks. Meads bottled a bit young in a thick bottle will be carbonated, but if not done with care, you risk popped corks or bottle bombs. This is very important, I had several bottles of my first try explode on me!

    I bottle my mead in mason jars or those beer bottles with a swing top cap. I store them in the fridge or root cellar. You can age them for as long as you want! Mine tend to get used up pretty quick because most of my meads are medicinal and people ask me for them.
    Last edited by Geophyz; 3rd March 2020 at 18:03.

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