I am really into free wild food—especially food that is easy to find, harvest, and process. If it is calorie-dense and full of nutrition, that’s a huge bonus. Oh, and it needs to taste good, too!
Many wild foods are … well, how can I say this nicely? Uh, they are edible, but not palatable. They taste too “different” for most folks.
And a lot of wild foods just don’t come in any kind of quantity worth going after.
Or they are difficult to get to.
Or they take skill to identify.
The vast majority of people just aren’t into harvesting wild foods due to all the many problems that can go along with doing so.
But there is one really awesome exception that you should know about.
So what is the ideal wild food for beginning foragers?
Best Free Wild Food For Beginning Foragers
Yup, the nuts that most oak trees produce. And gosh, there are oak trees throughout most of North America. I doubt you’ll have any problems with identifying oaks, or mistaking them for anything poisonous. (And read further down to learn about two helpful resources on how to get started, including information on what oaks are best and how to process them.)
You May Also Enjoy:
I’ve been playing around with harvesting and processing acorns for many years. And I’ve had some amazingly good, tasty successes.
(Oh, I’ve had a few disasters, too. But, generally, it’s been wonderful.)
For example, pancakes made with acorn meal are really delicious. They have a nutty, wholesome flavor. It is what I always wanted from pancakes. There is this richness and satisfaction that you can only get from high-quality, nutrient-dense foods.
Plus, you feel full for a good long time. You won’t have that empty, hungry feeling that refined-flour pancakes disappoint with.
I don’t consider myself an expert. But it really doesn’t take that much to process acorns. It is one of the easier wild foods to get started with.
Most of my batches of acorns so far have been small-scale, involving just myself.
Like most of the skills I am working on, I try to do enough each year to keep the knowledge alive and to learn just a bit more.
Best Resources For Beginning Wild Food Foragers
If you’re interested in learning more about this skill, too, check out these two great resources about processing and eating acorns:
- The first is this free article on processing acorns, which includes some recipes that use acorns:
“How to Process and Cook With Acorns”
- And the second source is my absolute favorite book on acorns (and I’ve read a lot of books):
“It Will Live Forever” by Beverly R. Ortiz
(Actually, most of the book is what Beverly learned, or was told, about acorns by Julia F. Parker.)
The description on the back cover really tells it all:
For centuries, the Yosemite Indians have been gathering acorns, drying and storing them, and pounding, winnowing, sifting, leaching, and cooking them in a highly evolved, elegant, and skillful process. “It Will Live Forever” looks at Julia Parker, a Kashaya Pomo woman who married into the Yosemite Miwok tribe and is still practicing this traditional art as Indian women have done for generations.
“It Will Live Forever” remains the only source of intimate descriptions of one of the most vital aspects of traditional California Indian life.
These are great resources to help you get started. I hope you enjoy them!
What Do You Think?
If you’ve been eating acorns for a while, leave me a comment to let me know your experiences!
Psst! Our Lawyer Wants You to Read This Big, Bad Medical Disclaimer –> The contents of this article, made available via The Grow Network (TGN), are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice; the content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information provided by TGN. Reliance on any information provided by this article is solely at your own risk. And, of course, never eat a wild plant without first checking with a local expert.
Marjory Wildcraft is the founder of The Grow Network, which is a community of people focused on modern self-sufficient living. She has been featured by National Geographic as an expert in off-grid living, she hosted the Mother Earth News Online Homesteading Summit, and she is listed in Who’s Who in America for having inspired hundreds of thousands of backyard gardens. Marjory was the focus of an article that won Reuter’s Food Sustainability Media Award, and she recently authored The Grow System: The Essential Guide to Modern Self-Sufficient Living—From Growing Food to Making Medicine.