Oak: Acorn Tree/Quercus Spp.Crystal Calhoun
What is it? The Oak tree is one of the many mighty trees growing in the plains, woods, and hardwood forests of Oklahoma, Texas, and a hundred other places. The acorns that fall from the Oak tree have been long used as a food especially by the Native Americans who saw its true potential. Today, the modern American would most likely find it bitter, even toxic as they have been trained to eat sweet and processed food. But evidently this tree deserves a place in the Wild Food category for botanists.
Where to find it? Oaks can be located almost anywhere where there is sunshine, nutrients, and other trees. They grow much in the same habitat as the Virginia Juniper, Sugarberry and the Pine. They can tolerate heavy clay soils but also do well in fields with light soil. They grow in almost any soil type and provide much shelter and food for the woodland creatures.
What to eat? This is a tricky subject as one has to be careful on how to eat what is available. But, it is reported that you can only eat the seeds, or nuts, as most people call them. For the animals, they eat everything they can off of the mighty Oak, including the bark which is most often scraped off during winter by the deer. Unfortunately, humans weren’t built to consume these parts of the tree but it has been said you can use the round Oak galls for medicinal purposes.
When to find it? You can find and collect the fruit/nuts typically in the fall around September or October time. The round Oak galls should be searched for when the wasps come around, as that is how they are made.
What does it look like? Depending on the variety, the oak tree usually has dark-shaded bark with green leaves attached to the main twig on a little stem. The leaves can be all sorts of shapes, but they are usually a darker shade of green with a thick feeling. Research your variety for more information. The bark inside can be a whitish hue, but this factor also depends on the variety. During the fall the Oak tree gives off little nuts measuring to about an inch in diameter.
How to enjoy it? The uses for the acorns are basic, but the preparation is very important. Some however can be eaten raw and have even a sweet flavor. Some acorns can be dried, ground into powder and used to thicken soups, added to flour for making bread and muffins or even used as a cereal grain. Another method to prepare the seeds was to leach them. Place them in a cloth bag and place them in a stream. This allows all the acid powder to wash away. You must do this to get rid of the unwanted chemicals found in the acorns. Another way people may use the acorn is to roast the seed and use it as a coffee substitute.