It’s not secret that we can eat acorns. It’s a great, survival food. And there are many unexpected health benefits as well.
They are rich in antioxidants and are considered beneficial to gut health. They have over 60 beneficial plan compounds that can protect cells from damage. They reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. The are good sources for vitamin A and E.
The best time to harvest acorns is as soon as they fall to the ground. If you wait, worms will quickly find them.
Maple Tree Seeds
A little-known foraging secret is that maple seeds are edible raw without processing. They are best in warm weather. As the temperature drops in the fall, the seeds become more bitter.
As a check, get seeds pods with some green still on them. All maple seeds are edible, but the smaller ones are sweeter and the larger ones are more bitter. If they are too bitter, you can roast them or boil them to reduce the strong flavor.
To remove the seeds from their pods, soak them for 1 hour. Peel them and prepare as you like. The skin is not harmful, just not the best tasting.
You can grind the seeds and dry them to save them for flour.
Dock is a fairly common, perennial weed introduced from Europe. Found in most states in the Unites States, you’ll also find it in New Zealand, Australia, and many other countries throughout the world.
It’s in the buckwheat family, Polygonacea, and often called cushy-cows, butterdock, kettle dock, curly dock, and smair dock.
The number of ways to use rose hips is tea. It is high in vitamin c and a great trailside nibble all winter long.
Hawthorn has medicinal and edible properties. Since I haven’t used them yet, here’s a great link with more information: Hawthorn: Foraging and Using
Wintergreen or Teaberries
Wintergreen is one of the best sources of inflammation-fighting compounds in the world and inflammation is the cause of many diseases and health problems.
The berries are tasty but the texture is a bit waxy. If you crush the leaves of wintergreen, you’ll get that minty wintergreen smell you were hoping for so you have an easy way to confirm it’s the right plant.
Hackberry is a large tree with bumpy bark and hard, brown berries. There are two species in North America – SounthernHackberry (Celtic laevigata) and Northern Hackberry (Celtic occidentalis).
Only the fruits of hackberry are edible. The berries contain a small seed that can be ground and eating a variety of ways. One is adding it to milk to create a nut milk. Second, you can turn it into a grapenut-like cereal. Third, you can make a nut paste and make cookies with it, as Native Americans once did.
This is an invasive species that was brought over the the United States to feed livestock. The birds love it, especially cedar waxwings, and we can eat the ripe berries as well.
You can find it on abandoned farms or wild spaces next to highways.
It’s an excellent trailside nibble – the tartness fades after the first frost, but the berries will also start to fall. Pull them off the tree and eat them when red and slightly tart with some sweetness.
You can make jam, jelly, or pies with them.