HOW TO "HARVEST" THE ABUNDANT ACORN CROP
HARVEST AND EAT THE ACORNS:
QUESTION: Do you know of any recipes using acorns?
The reason I ask this: When I was a child, my grandfather had me pick up a small bucketful of acorns from under our pin oak tree. A day or two later, he asked me to come over to his house and he fed me acorns. The only problem I have is he never told anyone how in the world he prepared them.
Here is some information about eating acorns or rather acorn meal. The tannins have to be removed to avoid the bitterness. I don't know what your grandfather might have done to remove the tannins in whole acorns unless the type of acorn had less tannins to begin with and could have been removed by soaking the whole acorn.
ACORN PANCAKES from Sharon Hendricks
Break an egg into a bowl. Add:
1 teaspoon salad oil
1 teaspoon of honey or sugar
1/2 cup of ground and leached acorns
1/2 cup of corn meal
1/2 cup of whole wheat or white flour
2 teaspoons of double action baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of milk
Beak all together. If the batter is too thick to pour, thin it with milk. Pour pancakes into a hot, greased griddle and cook slowly until brown on both sides.
Serve with butter and syrup or wild blackberry jam. Delicious!!
PREPARATION OF GROUND ACORN MEAL
LET SOMETHING EAT THE ACORNS THEN EAT THE EATER!
- Pick up several cupfuls of acorns. All kinds of oaks have edible acorns. Some have more tannin than others, but leaching will remove the tannin from all of them.
- Shell the acorns with a nutcracker, a hammer, or a rock.
- Grind them. If you are in the woods, smash them, a few at a time on a hard boulder with a smaller stone, Indian style. Do this until all the acorns are ground into a crumbly paste. If you are at home, it's faster and easier to use your mom's blender. Put the shelled acorns in the blender, fill it up with water, and grind at high speed for a minute or two. You will get a thick, cream-colored goo. It looks yummy, but tastes terrible.
- Leach (wash) them. Line a big sieve with a dish towel and pour in the ground acorns. Hold the sieve under a faucet and slowly pour water through, stirring with one hand, for about five minutes. A lot of creamy stuff will come out. This is the tannin. When the water runs clear, stop and taste a little. When the meal is not bitter, you have washed it enough.
Or, in camp, tie the meal up in a towel and swish it in several bucketfuls of clean drinking water, until it passes the taste test.
- Squeeze out as much water as you can, with your hands.
- Use the ground acorn mash right away, because it turns dark when it is left around. Or store in plastic for freezing if you want to make the pancakes later.
Squirrels are cute little varmints which are not too particular whether they eat apples or pecans which you have spent a fortune trying to produce.
SQUIRRELS -- HOW TO HARVEST
Squirrels and fruit-nut crops don't mix! Squirrels are cute little varmints that have become lazy in the yard. The furry devils eat all of the yard-fruit - apples, pears and pecans - rather than the "wild nuts and berries" squirrels are supposed to eat. Squirrels don't want to search for their food in the wilds anymore. Why should they? We've grown it for them in convenient, easy-to-eat form. You can say the squirrels of the '90's are NOT what their parents were. These '90's squirrels want fast food, conveniently packaged.
Squirrels typically feed on tree fruits and nuts. Acorns and pecans are favorite foods but they have added apples, pears, peaches and tomatoes to their diet as well. These critters have probably been reading some health magazine and figure to lower their cholesterol with an improved diet. That's all we need, a longer living, healthier squirrel! Squirrels do have an overeating problem and would probably be terribly obese if a program of strenuous exercise coupled with a climbing regimen was not practiced daily. Squirrels can be responsible for phenomenal pecan losses (each squirrel can eat and hide more than 50 pounds of nuts per year). During population peaks when food is scarce, squirrels may even chew bark from a variety of trees.
What can be done about squirrels? Squirrel damage can be prevented by eliminating the presence of the squirrels. Easy? Not really! A variety of traps will catch squirrels. A good bait consists of slices of orange and apple, pecans removed from the shell or peanut butter. Crackers to go with the peanut butter is optional. Baiting can be used as a distraction rather than to catch the varmints. Some folks decide if you can't beat them, you may as well join them! People report that squirrel damage to desirable crops can be eliminated if the critters are fed. Putting out a bucket of dried dog food near the crop may solve the problem. This makes squirrels so fat they can't climb well or run as fast. Obesity of squirrels is the number one cause of their demise -- fat squirrels plus fast, hungry dogs and cats usually equals squirrel population control.
The most commonly used trap is called Havahart. These traps catch the squirrel unharmed so the cute little critter can be released into the wild or in a person's yard against whom you have a vendetta. Using the trap also insures that you avoid having your fingers eaten off by a trapped, savage squirrel. The surest and most fulfilling, or should I say filling, method is stewing. Squirrel stew can't be beaten! Havahart traps can also be used for this elimination procedure since it reduces meat bruising and clotting spots from bullet damage. The good news in many areas of Texas is there is no legal bag limit.
For those who think squirrels resemble rats and shouldn't be eaten--forget such a ridiculous idea! Squirrels have furry tails; rats do not. Have you ever heard of rat stew? No! Yet everyone has heard of squirrel stew. In fact there wouldn't be a Texas if it weren't for squirrel stew. Don't condemn the idea of stewing your squirrel problems away. That's right! Davy Crockett and his Tennessee sharpshooters wouldn't have reached puberty if it were not for squirrel stew. Besides, what do you think they ate on the long trip from Tennessee to the Alamo? Enchiladas? Nope! You guessed it--squirrel stew. Now aren't you ashamed of comparing squirrel to rat? Besides, squirrel meat is lean and an excellent choice for diet-conscience people. Squirrel meat tastes like what the squirrel has been eating the most of so if your pecan or acorn crop has been under attack, recycle the flavor in preserved squirrel meat.
PARSONS' VARMINT CONTROL SOLUTION -- EAT THEM!!!!
Use these steps in backyard - dressing rabbit or squirrels:
DRESSING OF SMALL GAME--When you get home, skin and finish dressing the game, removing any shot-damaged parts. A short soaking in a strong salt solution helps remove excessive bloodiness around shot, but is recommended only for this purpose.
- Bleed the animal immediately.
- Remove the entrails and wipe the body cavity with a clean cloth, paper towels or dry grass. To remove the entrails of a small animal, make a cut from the anus to the ribs, taking care to avoid cutting the intestines.
- Remove body heat by allowing air to circulate around it. Never stack the animals or put them in the pockets of hunting jacket.
Skinning should be done as soon as possible. Alit along the center back with a sharp knife. Cut across 2 or 3 inches near the middle of the back of a squirrel or rabbit. Insert your fingers beneath the skin on each side of the cut and pull in opposite directions. If needed, wipe the carcass with a damp cloth to remove hair or debris. Remove the head, feet and tail.
Pull skin off and sever at the neck and feet. Wipe off loose hairs. Store dressed small game in the refrigerator (38 degrees to 40 degrees F.) until ready to cook, or freeze the meat right away.
Opossums and raccoons are more difficult to skin than rabbits or squirrels. Allow the carcass to hang in a cool place for 24 to 48 hours. When it is time to skin the animal, cut the skin from where you stopped when removing the entrails up to the chin. From the cut extending from the chin to the tail, cut the skin up each leg to the foot. Cut the skin around the base of each foot and around the neck. Pull the skin loose from each leg, the neck and finally the back. Wipe clean with a damp cloth after removing the feet, head and tail. Remove the excess fat from the carcass.
STORAGE--Store dressed squirrel in the refrigerator (38 to 40 degrees F.) until ready to cook, or freeze the meat right away.
Package completely dressed animals carefully in moisture-vapor-proof material--heavy duty foil, plastic freezer bags or waxed freezer paper. Freeze immediately and store no longer than 4 to 6 months. Always thaw by placing the package in the refrigerator for 12 to 18 hours or place under cold running water.
PREPARATION AND RECIPES--The natural tenderness of small game is influenced by the age of the animal. it is helpful to the homemaker if the hunter tags the animal as to "young" or "mature." Young animals require less cooking than older and less tender ones and can be cooked by dry heat cooking methods.
Because game animals lead a vigorous life in foraging for food, muscle cuts of older animals are likely to be less tender, drier and less palatable than muscle cuts of domestic animals. Older game animals require more attention when cooking than domestic animals which are confined during fattening. Older and less tender animals will be more palatable when cooked with moisture.
Squirrel is one of the most tender of all wild game meats. The rosy pink to red flesh of young squirrel is tender and has a pleasing flavor. The flesh of older animals is darker red in color and may require marinating or long cooking for tenderness.
PREPARING FRIED SQUIRREL
After cleaning, cut up for frying, soak overnight in salt water. Before frying (like chicken exactly) put squirrel in cooker oven with water and "par boil" until meat is tender when stuck with fork. Don't cook until meat falls off bones - as you want to batter it with flour to fry (not too fast) like chicken. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
Rinse skinned squirrel in cold water and pat dry, dip in buttermilk and then in seasoned flour and fry in hot fat just as you would a chicken.
If the squirrel is young, you probably will not need to steam the meat. If there is any doubt, drain off excess fat in the skillet, add about a cup of water or wine if you prefer, and steam covered for about 15 minutes. Or you may wish to pressure cook the meat for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.
Make gravy in the frying fat by adding the leftover seasoned flour and milk or water. Serve over rice or with hot biscuits.
1 young squirrel, cut in pieces
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Mix salt and pepper with flour. Shake pieces of squirrel in flour mixture and brown in melted shortening in a heavy skillet. Lower the heat after browning and cover the skillet tightly. Cook over low heat for 1/2 to 1 hour or until well done. Remove cover during the last 10 minutes to crisp outer surfaces.
1 young squirrel, cut in pieces
3 slices bacon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sliced onion
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup beef or chicken broth
Rub pieces of squirrel with salt and pepper and roll in flour. Pan fry with chopped bacon for 30 minutes. Add onion, lemon juice and broth and cover tightly. Cook slowly for 2 hours. Just before serving, remove squirrel and make gravy by adding water or milk and flour to the pan drippings.
Variations: Add l tablespoon paprika, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne, l sliced tart apple and 2 cups broth instead of bacon and lemon juice called for in this recipe.
Use a cleaned and skinned squirrel cut in serving size pieces.
4 ribs of celery, cut diagonally
1 small bay leaf
Small whole onions
Small whole potatoes
Salt, pepper and Worcestershire to taste
Place squirrel pieces in Dutch oven or heavy skillet with a lid. Cover with water and steam until the meat is nearly tender. Add the vegetables and seasoning and cook until just tender.
If a thickened gravy is desired, add l tablespoon of corn starch dissolved in one-half cup of water just before serving.
This is good served with corn bread. One squirrel will serve two or three people.
3 squirrels, cut in serving
1 cup chopped onion pieces
4 cups or 2 No. 303 cans tomatoes
3 quarts water
1/4 cups diced bacon
2 cups diced potatoes
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 cups lima beans
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups corn
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Place squirrel pieces in a large kettle. Add water. Bring slowly to boil; reduce heat and simmer 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until meat is tender, skimming surface occasionally. Remove meat from bones and return to liquid. Add bacon, cayenne, salt, pepper, onion, tomatoes, potatoes and lima beans. Cook l hour. Add corn and continue to cook 10 minutes. Serves six to eight.
Note: This recipe is particularly suitable for older, less tender animals.
BRUNSWICK STEW (100 year old recipe)
Boil 2 good sized chickens or 4 squirrels in water
Add to the meat a generous supply of tomatoes and potatoes.
When done add ten or twelve ears of corn.
Remove the meat, cut into small pieces and return to the fire.
Cook until very tender and thick.
Seasoning with butter salt and pepper.
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fat
Clean squirrel. Rub with slat and pepper. Brush with fat and place on a broiling rack. Broil 40 minutes, basting every 10 minutes with drippings. Squeeze lemon on squirrel before serving.
Serves two to three.
Rabbit is tender white meat that has fewer calories and is higher in protein than any major meat.
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup margarine
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
3/4 cup pineapple juice
2 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 Tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 (2-2 1/2 pound) rabbit, cleaned and cut up
Cook onion in butter until tender. Mix in tomato sauce, pineapple and lemon juice, brown sugar and seasonings. Cook over low heat 15-20 minutes to blend flavors. Place rabbit in bowl and pour mixture over it.
Let stand 1 1/2 to 2 hours Place rabbit pieces on grill 7-9 inches from coals. Cook 45 minutes or until tender. Turn about every 10 minutes.
Baste frequently with sauce. Salt before serving. Serve with hot
mustard sauce if desired. Serves 4.
PREPARATION AND COOKING OPOSSUM
Taken from "Wild Game--Care and Cooking" Extension publication B-987 and from a sheet in files of which the author is unknown.
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Most people prefer to put an opossum in a safely wired pen to feed and fatten for two or three weeks before eating them.
Opossum is light in color, fine-grained and tender with generous fat deposits between the bands of muscle. Remove as much of the fat as possible before cooking to make the meat less greasy.
After proper dressing, soak in salt water (3 tablespoons salt to gallon of water), soak overnight before cooking or freezing.
TO COOK: Place opossum in deep kettle, add enough water to cover well and cook well without sticking or scorching. Add l medium onion peeled and cut in half and l medium apple (not peeled and cut in half), salt to season according to size of opossum. (Add boiling water if it cooks out before tender).
Cook on medium heat for a long as it takes to have meat tender when tested with fork stuck into it. When tender, remove onion and apple. Carefully place opossum in large baking pan, remove all layers of fat that you can. Then use 1 or 2 sticks of oleo, chipped over or rubbed on opossum. (This is not necessary, but could be used to season it). Pour some of the broth from "par boiling" (first cooking) around opossum in baking pan. Use lots of black pepper, sprinkle opossum lightly with flour to help brown, take spoon and put some broth lightly over flour (this is "basting").
Place in 350 degree F. oven and brown light brown or as brown as you wish - watch and continue to sprinkle top of opossum with broth (or oleo) when done and ready to eat. Opossum has to be real brown, but to keep from getting hard I usually brown it in oven to light brown on top, then with some broth in pan, put it on top of stove, cover and baste often and let it cook on low heat so it won't scorch on bottom.
In fact, I cooked opossum like I did ducks, coons and pheasants. Removing that fat from opossums when cooked tender is different. No one takes time to cook wild game like I did. You might find some way to put it in a pressure cooker or crock pot, but I don't know that.
(Army Cooking, l9l0 Style, from an old U.S. Army manual)
Clean and skin the 'possums, allowing them to hang in the open air for several hours, then place in refrigerator for at least 24 hours before cooking. Stuff with an ordinary bread stuffing (sage preferred).
Set in a deep pan so that no part will project above the top; season well with pepper and salt, and pour about one inch of beef stock or canned beef bouillon into the pan.
Fill the vacant spaces with peeled sweet potatoes, and sprinkle a little flour over the whole; cover with a crust, the same for a pot pie, omitting the fat, as the crust will be removed after baking and will not be served.
Allow to bake slowly for about three hours. Remove crust and serve hot. The crust will absorb most of the fat from the opossum.
Dress and skin the 'possum. Remove as much fat as possible from outside of carcass and be especially careful to remove any glandular tissue from hind legs.
Salt and pepper 'possum well, then place in oven bag and cover with thick slice of onion. Close bag and punch holes in top as directed. Cook in a very slow oven 225 degrees F. about 45 minutes per pound. Meat falls off the bone with this treatment and is
ROASTED STUFFED OPOSSUM WITH SWEET POTATOES
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1/4 cup fat
1 1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 sweet potato per person
6 cups bread cubes
1 teaspoon salt
Melt fat in skillet; add onion and celery and cook until tender. Combine bread cubes, salt, pepper and poultry seasonings with onions and celery. Add water and mix thoroughly. Fill the body cavity. Close by sewing the skin together with a heavy string or by skewering the skin together and lacing with a heavy string. Place, underside down, on a rack in shallow roasting pan. Roast at 300 degrees to 350 degrees F. for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until well done, basting occasionally with drippings and sprinkling lightly with flour after each basting for a crisp, crackly crust. When almost done, place boiled or baked sweet potatoes around meat and baste frequently with drippings. Remove browned opossum and potatoes to a heated large platter. Allow 3/4 to 1 pound per portion.
Brown together in l tablespoon of fat:
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup celery
Remove from heat and stir in:
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup catsup
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups chopped rabbit meat
Simmer these ingredients at least l hour, adding water if necessary. Serve on toast or toasted buns. This recipe is excellent for older, tougher rabbit meat or leftover meat. It also freezes well. Makes approximately 1 quart.
(for traditional community coon suppers)
Copperas Cove Garden Club Cookbook
3-4 raccoons, 4 to 6 pounds each
5 Tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
8 medium onions, peeled
2 Cups flour
1 Cup shortening
12 small bay leaves
Skin, draw and clean coons soon after killing. Remove, without breaking, the brown bean-shaped kernels from under forelegs and each thigh.
Cut into pieces. Reserve meaty backs and legs for baking. Cook bony pieces in water to make broth for gravy and dressing. Add small amount of seasonings. Simmer until meat is tender; strain, and use only the broth.
Sprinkle back and leg pieces with salt and pepper. Then dredge with flour.
Heat shortening in heavy skillet. Add meat; brown on all sides. Transfer pieces to roaster; add onions and bay leaves. Cover. Bake in moderate oven (350) two hours until tender.
Make gravy by adding flour to drippings in pan. (Use 2 to 3 T for each cup of liquid or broth used).
As meat is roasting, prepare stuffing of: 3 loaves of day old bread, crumbled; 2 1/2 t. pepper; 2 1/2 t. powdered sage; 4 beaten eggs, 1 1/2 oz. dehydrated onion soup; 4 stalks celery chopped; 1/2 c. butter; and 4 c. coon broth.
Bake in large shallow pan in moderate oven (350 degrees F) for 30 minutes. Feeds 24 people.
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