When I was a kid I was always in the woods, I practically grew up in them. I was homeschooled and still remember getting up at 5am every morning so I could finish all my work and be in the woods by noon. I admit when my Pa first told me people could eat acorns, I went right out and cracked open one and poped it in my mouth. YUCK! Talk about bitter! I figured only squirrels could eat something that awful. My Pa assured me that acorns are indeed edible, but they need a bit of work before they are ready for the dinner table.
Eating acorns is nothing new. The Indians here in North America ate them, in fact, they still eat them. They ate them whole, turned them into flour, and even made bread out of them. They’re nutritious and plentiful and if you’re afraid of gathering wild edibles for fear of grabbing the wrong plant, I’m sure you won’t have any problem recognizing acorns. All types of acorns throughout the country are edible.
Over the course of history it has been estimated that many more millions of tons of acorns have been consumed by humans than wheat, rice, and other grains. Preparing and eating them is easier than you might think too. You can make alot of different foods with the simple acorn. Believe it or not, there are recipes for acorn cheesecake and acorn enchiladas.
If you’re looking for acorn recipes then check out Suellen Ocean book Acorns and Eat ‘em. It’s 50 pages of great information. It includes a field guide to oaks, along with modern instructions on how to prepare and cook your acorns and various recipes. The California Oak Foundation is hosting a FREE PDF version of her book. Download it, print it, study it. The knowledge inside may save your life one day.
Preparing The Nuts
There are as many ways to prepare acorns as there are nuts on the ground. No matter how you go about it, the goal is to remove the tannic acid that makes acorns bitter. Some people like to remove the shells, some don’t. Some like to boil them, some like to soak them in running water. I shell and boil mine. A fist sized rock works great as a nutcracker, so does a hammer. It can be a bit of work, but there is a great device by Davebuilt Co that will crack and seperate your acorns with the turn of a handle. You can also put them in a burlap sack, pillow case, or even a ziplock bag and gently hit them with a hammer. After I shell them I like to grind the acorns into smaller pieces before boiling. This allows the tannic acid to be leached out more quickly.
Take the ground acorns and put them into a pot of already boiling water. As the acorns boil the water will become discolored. When the water is dark brown (every ten minutes or so), strain out the acorn meats and switch them to another pot of already boiling water. When switching the acorns from one pot of water to another, make sure the water is boiling before adding the acorns. Switching the acorns from boiling water to cold water can lock in the bitterness.
Continue this process until the acorn paste no longer tastes bitter. Generally speaking it usually takes 3 or 4 water changes. The amount of boiling you do will vary depending on your acorns and your patience. When most of the bitterness is gone lay out the acorn paste and allow it to dry.
Another way to leach out tannins from acorns is to put them in a mesh or burlap sack and leave them in a running stream for a week or so. The length of time and results will vary depending on the acorns, the water temperature and flow rate, and other factors.
Cooking And Storage
The wet meal can be used right away in a bread recipe, or dried and stored as flour is. It will keep as long as flour does if kept dry. You can store it in sealed mylar bags placed inside 5-gallon buckets. Don’t forget the oxygen absorbers. Here’s a great guide I wrote on Long Term Food Storage in case you’re curious.
Acorn is a heavy flour and your bread may fall apart if you don’t add a mixture of flours. You may want to mix a lighter flour such as wheat flour with the acorn meal. White flour, corn flour, cattail flour, and soy flour all will do.
One should prepare in leisure for what we may one day have to do in haste. Don’t wait till it’s too late to learn these skills. The acorns are coming off soon, if you have an oak tree in your yard grab a 5 gallon bucket and collect the fallen ones once they have turned brown. Better yet put a tarp or sheet under the tree and the acorns will nearly harvest themselves. It doesn’t get much easier than that!
There are certain climates and geographic locations where finding water will either be extremely easy or nearly impossible. You’ll have to take your location into account when you read the following. My best suggestion? Buy a guide book tailored for your location, be it desert, jungle, arctic or temperate.
Wherever you live, your best bet for finding a source of water is to scout out suitable locations and stock up necessary equipment before TSHTF. With proper preparedness, you should know not only the location of the nearest streams, springs or other water source but specific locations where it would be easy to fill a container and the safest way to get it home. Also note if your water source dries up during a dry period. Some creeks and even large rivers will dissapear after only a few weeks without rain, so make sure you go back and check your sources during these times and note their level and rate of flow.
Preparedness also means having at hand an easily installable system for collecting rain water. This can range from large tarps or sheets of plastic to a system for collecting water run off from your roof or gutters. Adding a gutter system is an affordable way to easily collect thousands of gallons of water just feet from your house. Compared to a well, a rain catchment system is a relatively cheap and easy DIY project. Make sure you install a roof washing system and find a container large enough to outlast your longest dry spells.
Above ground pools are great ways to hold thousands of gallons of water for pennies per gallon. Just make sure you keep them covered to prevent evaporation and alge growth, treat them weekly with chlorine (stock up on 1″ clorine tabs), and either set the pools up in the shade or keep them covered with a tarp. UV rays from the Sun will eat these pools alive in a matter of years.
Once you have identified a source of water you need to have bottles or other containers ready to transport it to your living space or store it long term. Keep your water as cool as possible and never set it in the sun. Alge will begin to grow in your water in just a few days if you leave it in direct sunlight.
People who depend on a well for their water have learned to fill up up all available pots and pans when a thunderstorm is brewing. What would you do if you knew your water supply would be disrupted for a few hour? Assuming you don’t already have long term water preps (or you don’t want to use them up) here are a few options in addition to filling your pots and pans:
- The simplest option is to put two or three heavy-duty plastic trash bags (avoid those with post-consumer recycled content) inside each other. Then fill the inner bag with water. You can even use the trash can to give structure to the bag. (A good argument for keeping your trash can fairly clean!)
- Fill your bath tub almost to the top. Without a waterBOB Emergency Bathtub Water Storage, you won’t want to drink this water, but it can be used to flush toilets, wash your hands, etc.
- Shut off the breaker to your hot water heater and drain it into buckets and other containers (caution: surprisingly enough the water inside hot water heaters is HOT)
If you are at home, a fair amount of water will be stored in your water pipes and related systems too. To get access to this water, first close the valve to the outside as soon as possible. This will prevent the water from running out as pressure to the entire system drops and prevent contaminated water from entering your house.
Then open a faucet on the top floor. This will let air into the system so a vacuum doesn’t hold the water in. Next, you can open a faucet in the basement. Gravity should allow the water in your pipes to run out the open faucet. You can repeat this procedure for both hot and cold systems.
As mentioned above your hot water heater will also have about 40 gallons of potable water inside it. You can access this water from the valve on the bottom. Again, you may need to open a faucet somewhere else in the house to ensure a smooth flow of water. Sediment often collects in the bottom of a hot water heater. While a good maintenance program can prevent this, it should not be dangerous. Simply allow any stirred up dirt to again drift to the bottom.
They say each person uses seventy gallons a day. That includes, cooking, drinking, flushing the toilet, and showers. During an emergency you can get by with ten gallons a day pretty good except when you wash clothes. For your survival preps you should count on two gallons of water per-person per-day as an absolute minimum. My personal in-home stash has enough water for about 40 days for six people (about 2,800 gallons), I don’t live near a stream but I am in an area where it rains frequently so I collect rain water into large pools.
Commercial gallon bottles of filtered/purified spring water often carry expiration dates two years after the bottling date. A good rotation program is necessary to ensure your supply of water remains fresh and drinkable. You can purchases cases of six one-gallon jugs, which frequently go on sale for just under 50 cents per gallon. The heavy-duty cardboard boxes stack easily and protect the jugs from rupturing.
Personally I’ve drank stuff that would make most people puke, but when you’re in the wild you do what you have to. Dark, muddy, Stale tasting water is still water, just make sure you heat it in a pot with a lid until it starts to bubble. This should kill any bacteria or other baddies in your water source.
Sometimes a bit of green alge will start to grow in bottled water. Most people are grossed out by the stuff but it doesn’t bother me one bit. I consider it free protein. I’m no doctor and I can’t tell you if it’s bad for you or not, but I’m not dead yet either. I do recommend rotating the water in storage tanks every year. If it’s coming right out of the tap then appreciate it while you can and keep your preps fresh.
If you prefer to store your own water, don’t use milk cartons.; it’s practically impossible to remove the milk residue (and taste, ugh!). Plus they split easy and the caps are useless for long term storage. Bleach bottles are recommended by others, but I’ve never used this method and the bleach manufacturers don’t recommend it at all. I stick with PETE bottles myself, but even these leak chemicals in your water over several years (much faster if they get hot). Stainless steel is the best way to store any non-acidic liquid but it is very costly to store large amounts.
If you have a spare refrigerator in the basement or the garage, use PETE water bottles (the kind soda or liters of water come in) to fill any available freezer space. In addition to providing you with fresh, easily transportable drinking water, the ice can be used to cool food in the refigerator in the event of a power failure. I’ve found that these bottles, which are clear and have screw-on caps like soda bottles, will withstand many freeze-thaw cycles without bursting or leaking. (The bottom may distort or pop out when frozen, but this isn’t a big problem.)
For self-storage of large amounts of water, you’re better off with containers of at least 5 gallons. Food-grade plastic storage containers are available commercially in sizes from five gallons to 250 or more. Containers with handles and spouts are usually five to seven gallons, which will weigh between 40 and 56 pounds. Get too far beyond that and you’ll have great difficulty moving a full tank.
15 gallon, 30 gallon and 55 gallon containers used for food service — such as delivery of syrups to soda bottlers and other manufacturers — are often available on craigslist and ebay. After proper cleaning, these are ideal for water storage — as long as a tight seal can be maintained. Make sure you have a good pump on hand for the 55 gallon drums and larger tanks.
For even greater storage capacity you can buy potable water tanks from 500 gallons to 15,000 gallons. These go for about $.50 a gallon on ebay + freight. I store my water outside in large intex easy set pools that have their tops covered and also the entire pool covered with a large tarp to keep UV rays from eating the liners.
I treat the water weekly with 1″ clorine tabs and I keep the pumps running until it freezes in the winter. Obviously these pools are not rated for drinking water but they are fish safe. They are used to raise fish in every day, especially in the Koi community. Fish are much more sensitive to chemicals in water than we are so it’s enough for me to trust it.
Solutions designed to be added to water to prepare it for long-term storage are commercially available. Tincture of Iodine 2% can be added to water at a rate of 5 drops per quart. Let it sit for about 30 minutes, shaking it every now and then. Remember that you should not use iodine if you have any thyroid problems.
Bleach can also be used to treat tap water from municipal sources. Add two to four drops per quart. Give it a shake and let it sit for about thirty minutes. After waiting, dribble a bit of disinfected water on the threads and smell the water. Your water SHOULD smell like chlorine, if not you should add one to two more drops of bleach until you can smell it.
Once you’re in a survival situation where there is a limited amount of water, conservation is an important consideration. While drinking water is critical, water is also necessary for rehydrating and cooking dried foods. Water from boiling pasta, cooking vegetables and similar sources can and should be retained and drunk, after it has cooled. Canned vegetables also contain liquid that can be consumed.
To preserve water, save water from washing your hands, clothes and dishes to flush toilets or water the garden.