|Valley Oak A-corn Bread|
|This (left) Valley Oak acorn split itself open as it sprouted|
Valley Oak acorns sprout in the late fall and if given the chance, will rapidly send a tap root deep into the ground. Most of the acorns I collected last month had just started to sprout, and several of the shells were split along their entire length from the vital force of the growing nutmeat. A few acorns even escaped their shells completely! Late season harvesting has advantages since only healthy (weevil free) acorns will sprout, and expansion-fractured shells are a cinch to remove by hand. However, on low mast years, all the late season acorns might already be cached by the squirrels.
|Partially dried Valley Oak acorns|
|Shelled acorns ready to blend into flour|
Some species of acorns (like Garry Oak) oxidize rapidly when shelled fresh, but my Valley Oak acorns appeared to be amazingly stable. I put 2 cups of shelled acorns into a Vita-mix with 2 cups of water, and blended them into a fine flour batter. Then I poured the batter into a gallon sized mason jar and filled it with water, which I changed every day for several days (for more information about this process, see How to Eat an Acorn). After 3 days the batter was only slightly astringent, and after 5 days, it was almost completely free of all bitter/astringent constituents. Katrina used the batter to make her a-corn bread recipe, which turned out amazingly delicious- almost like a butterscotch brownie! Of all the cold-leached acorns I have tried, they are among my favorite, perhaps second only to Garry Oak acorns. Valley Oak acorns are actually less bitter than Garry Oak acorns, but also slightly less flavorful.