Acorns are often an overlooked resource that could help get you out of a survival situation.
While mostly looked at as a nuisance in today’s world acorns were once a staple resource for Native Americans. They were widely collected to be turned into flour for use over winter and occasionally used to tan hides.
In a survival situation you probably won’t have the time or resources to collect and process acorns into a fine powder, but they have a few short term uses that could give you a leg up.
Make a Signal Whistle
While it is always good practice to carry multiple ways to help signal for help you could become separated from your gear or whistles could become damaged. Here is one neat trick to make a pretty loud whistle from an acorn cap.
As he said in the video this is one of those things you will want to practice in your spare time. Possibly while taking a break on the trail and happen to find a few acorns lying around.
This is really neat and a great way to help signal for rescue.
Roasted or Gruel?
Acorns should not be eaten raw as they contain a high amount of tannic acid. If not processed to leech the tannin from them you will become extremely nauseous and deal with possible bouts of diarrhea.
While properly turning them into flour is a long process there are a few ways to get them edible quickly. It will require two crucial resources: fire and water.
I want to let that sink in as you begin to read the processing steps below. If you do not have a large source of water available I would not waste calories or what precious water you have attempting this.
If you do not have at minimum a small flowing creek near you turn your sights to other aspects for food such as trapping or foraging other edible plants.
1. Take the acorns you have collected and using a rock or other hard object, smash them open. While you can do them individually, the best way is to find a large flat rock you can lay groups of acorns down at a time on to break open at once.
2. Collect the nut meat from the shell fragments and place them into some sort of cloth bag. A bandanna or socks are perfect for what you are about to do with them.
3. Tie off the end of whatever you used as a bag and securely place them into your running water source. They will need to stay there a minimum of at least a day to let the water “wash” the tannin from your nuts.
If you happen to have a fire and container of some kind you can flash boil the tannin from the acorns. Bring water to a boil and pour the acorn meat into the water. If will take a few pots of water changes and boiling to accomplish this.
4. After the bitter taste to them is gone they are ready to be consumed. If not they will need to be placed back into the water for a little longer.
If you do not have a fire just mash the nuts into a gruel while they are still wet. It may be a cold meal, but it is better than nothing.
If you have a fire and a shallow container such as a metal can I highly recommend roasting them. Let the nuts dry out a bit before dropping them into the can and sitting it down in some hot coals. Shake the can around periodically until they darken up and the smell of roasted nuts fills the air.
If you find acorns you will inevitably have squirrels somewhere nearby and a chance at a better meal than acorn gruel.
Collect a few acorns and break them open to collect the nut meat. Build a snare or a deadfall of some kind and use the nut meat for bait.
If set in the right location the squirrels will leap at the chance for an easy meal and soon find themselves roasting over a fire.
The next time you are out on the trail or scouting in the field make sure to take note of any oak trees you may see. They may just help you make it out alive if you find yourself in an emergency situation.
You don’t have to wait until that time arrives to try these either. Head out with the family and collect a few buckets of acorns to take home and process to enjoy around the house.