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This year our Live Oak put on the heaviest crop of acorns I have ever seen it produce. So many dropped, at times it sounded like popcorn as they hit the ground. The neighborhood squirrels have been very busy collecting and burying them, but are unable to keep up.
Wildlife habitat yard.
The acorn is one of the few nuts or fruits that is not directly named in Modern English after the tree it comes from which is why one does not hear of oak nuts. The seed crop from an oak, the acorns, is called a “mast” which means food and putting on a crop of acorns is masting. The common, ordinary acorn is one of the ancient foods of mankind. The first mention of acorns for human consumption was by the Greeks over 2,000 years ago. Over the course of human history it has been estimated that people have eaten more acorns than both wheat and rice combined. The acorn has served as an important famine food for many centuries. Native American Indian tribes all across North America, such as the Cherokee, Pima, and Apache, used acorns as one of their primary staple foods in the same way they used corn. American Indians understood the food value of the acorn and how to prepare it for human consumption. Some Indian tribes would bury their acorns in the mud for many days and then dig them up and dry them in the sun. Other Indian tribes would put their acorns inside a reed basket with a few heavy rocks and then put the basket in a fast moving stream for several days. Both of these methods removed the tannin in the acorns and made them fit for people to eat. Acorn Facts One tall mature oak tree can produce almost one-thousand pounds of acorns in one growing season during normal weather conditions. Acorns have a low sugar content and therefore help control blood sugar levels. They have a sweet nutty aftertaste. Acorn meal may be used in bread and stew recipes, substituting acorn meal for approximately one-fourth of the flour. Since acorns contain natural sweetness, reduce any other sweeteners in the recipe by one-fourth. Acorn grits can be used in place of nuts in cookie, brownie, and bread recipes. Acorns are a reliable source of carbohydrates, protein, 6 vitamins, 8 minerals, and 18 amino acids, and they are lower in fat than most other nuts. One handful of acorns is equivalent in nutrition to a pound of fresh hamburger. Live Oak acorns top the food list for birds such as wood ducks, wild turkeys, quail and jays. Squirrels, raccoons and whitetail deer also like them, sometimes to the point of being 25% of their fall diet. Interestingly, the tannin tends to be in the bottom half of the acorn which is why you will often see a squirrel eat only the upper half of the acorn. Squirrels are also not fools. They will eat all of a white acorn when they find one because it is the least bitter. They will bury the very bitter red and black acorns so over time some of the bitterness is leached into the soil. Raiding a squirrel’s hoard will get bitter acorns. Also, acorns shells and unleached nutmeat have gallotannins which are toxic to cattle, sheep, goats, horses and dogs.