According to Greek legend, acorns were a staple food of the Golden Age. They were used as an inferior coffee substitute during the American Civil War. Today they are used mostly to fatten hogs. They are an important source of food for local wildlife.
In medieval times, hogs were often taken into the forests by local farmers to forage for acorns in order to fatten the pigs for slaughter. Along with other woodland foods, this natural way of bringing the hogs to premium weight for slaughter was an annual tradition. It was on such a foray into the woods that French farmers near Perigord discovered that pigs can find truffles.
There are over 450 varieties of acorn, many of which have been used for food. They are native to all continents except Australia.
Native Americans cooked acorns, using them in a variety of dishes. Acorns are true nuts, and are the fruit of the oak tree.
Acorns are high in carbohydrates, and were used as food primarily during times of famine. 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.
To use: Gather acorns when they are ripe, in autumn. Remove the shells and the caps, and boil the acorns for at least 2 hours, changing the water several times. This removes the bitterness. They may then be roasted in the oven for one hour or so at 350 degrees F. They are now ready to eat or ground into flour.