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Are Acorns Paleo?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created June 08, 2010 at 4:53 PM

Are acorns, traditionally eaten by California Native Americans, considered paleo, or are they like grains, a food that we are not adapted to eat, but that can nourish us in the absence of more ideal foods?

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on June 10, 2010
at 02:41 PM

So? If the end result isn't toxic, then it shouldn't be a problem.

D339c39d94d65460e28128174845f423

(821)

on June 10, 2010
at 01:23 PM

an earlier post listed cashews as a paleo snack: http://paleohacks.com/questions/5265/paleo-movie-snacks

7b494127ac67e85e572c5222aaee9b4d

(668)

on June 09, 2010
at 02:43 PM

Most people, even if they think they've tried bellota, haven't. Restaurants are quite unscrupulous in serving tourists lower grade ham for a high grade cost. Once you know the difference, it's obvious, though. The only difficulty in ID'ing can occur between the higher grade hams... And any traditionally made hams are indeed nitrate free. They are cured simply with a sea salt bath and 2 years or more of curing in the open air of the mountains. Possibly my favorite food ever. Also, if you are in Spain, try "Cecina de Leon" , like ham but made from free range beef. Delicious!

7b494127ac67e85e572c5222aaee9b4d

(668)

on June 09, 2010
at 02:41 PM

Nice answer 42. Actually, only acorn fed free-range pigs can be classified as "bellota" (bellota is acorn in Spanish). That said there are different classes of Spanish ham (in order of ascending quality and price): Serrano (white pigs, farm raised, saltier and less fatty meat), Ibérico de cebo (black spanish pig, but farm raised), Ibérico de recebo (free range acorn fed Iberian pigs, but farm finished), and Ibérico de Bellota (Iberian pigs free-range and pasture fed their entire lives).

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on June 09, 2010
at 02:26 PM

I've read (but not investigated further) that some oak species have acorns with far less tannin, that can be eaten with less or even no processing. Vague memory that some Western US species were in this category. hmmm Yes, truly great pig fodder.

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on June 09, 2010
at 01:56 AM

Best way to eat acorns is to eat the animals that eat them and make acorns actually edible for us i.e. squirrels and pigs.

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5 Answers

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5
4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on June 08, 2010
at 05:16 PM

Kind of depends on how you define paleo.

In a strict sense, as in "a food consumed prior to the neolithic age", then yes, they are paleo. They existed and were consumed once people figured out how to process them. Unfortunately, grains also were consumed prior to the neolithic (though this should be unsurprising, given that organized agriculture had to come from somewhere), and were available to eat. So the strict paleo definition doesn't really help. Lots of stuff was eaten.

A looser paleo definition of, "food consumed throughout evolutionary history" would also not exclude them but lead you to conclude that they were at best a marginal food, and shouldn't be consumed in quantity. Rather, one should focus on the widespread staples of meat, meat, meat and vegetables.

In a modern pragmatic health sense, as in, "food that's worth eating because it's optimally nutrient dense and not harmful", then no, probably not. Why pick up nuts, pound the crap out of them, soak them for hours and finally bake them into something when you can just eat a steak?

So the answer depends on how you view paleo. If it's a strict definition, then you get one answer. If it's a heuristic you use to make dinner, then it's another. And if it's a "what's optimal", then you get yet another answer.

4
C53665c3f012fa1ede91033b08a8a6e7

(2269)

on June 09, 2010
at 12:50 AM

Hm... if acorns are toxic to humans, they aren't to pigs apparently. The most expensive (and deeee-lish!) jam??n ib??rico de bellota (Spanish ham) is made from pigs that forage on acorns prior to slaughter. As far as I know, jam??n ib??rico is only cured with salt and contains no nitrate/nitrite.

That any potential food requires hours or days of prep to make it fit for human consumption kind of makes you go "why?", unless you're starving and there is no other alternative of course.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on June 09, 2010
at 02:26 PM

I've read (but not investigated further) that some oak species have acorns with far less tannin, that can be eaten with less or even no processing. Vague memory that some Western US species were in this category. hmmm Yes, truly great pig fodder.

7b494127ac67e85e572c5222aaee9b4d

(668)

on June 09, 2010
at 02:43 PM

Most people, even if they think they've tried bellota, haven't. Restaurants are quite unscrupulous in serving tourists lower grade ham for a high grade cost. Once you know the difference, it's obvious, though. The only difficulty in ID'ing can occur between the higher grade hams... And any traditionally made hams are indeed nitrate free. They are cured simply with a sea salt bath and 2 years or more of curing in the open air of the mountains. Possibly my favorite food ever. Also, if you are in Spain, try "Cecina de Leon" , like ham but made from free range beef. Delicious!

7b494127ac67e85e572c5222aaee9b4d

(668)

on June 09, 2010
at 02:41 PM

Nice answer 42. Actually, only acorn fed free-range pigs can be classified as "bellota" (bellota is acorn in Spanish). That said there are different classes of Spanish ham (in order of ascending quality and price): Serrano (white pigs, farm raised, saltier and less fatty meat), Ibérico de cebo (black spanish pig, but farm raised), Ibérico de recebo (free range acorn fed Iberian pigs, but farm finished), and Ibérico de Bellota (Iberian pigs free-range and pasture fed their entire lives).

4
9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on June 08, 2010
at 06:03 PM

Last year I processed some for consumption. If you really really love spending your time grinding nuts and then soaking them and then grinding them and then spilling the soaking solution on your shirt, staining it forever....then go ahead. They probably won't harm you once they have undergone the detoxification process. But there are so many better foods out there. I suspect hunter-gatherers only ate acorns because they overshot their environment's carrying capacity and needed more calories.

1
5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on June 09, 2010
at 02:16 PM

Acorns are nuts, from the same family as filbert, chestnuts and beechnuts - the Fagaceae. They are edible but require lots of processing to be so. Certainly a lot of the Indians that ate them were hunter-gatherers, so presumably they could have at least have been processed by late paleo groups.

I wouldn't bother eating them either, but I have more options than your average hunter gather. Oaks of many species are very wide spread, and produce huge crops, so for our ancestors, they were probably worth the time. Acorn leaching bee, with a dance afterwords.

I've been told that acorn pancakes are great. FWIW

1
D8691a1cee39ea420a36b163d4a4042b

(404)

on June 09, 2010
at 12:45 PM

Btw check out how cashews are processed and made fit for consumtion. It's a long and elaborate process. In their natural state, they are so toxic that those handling them must wear gloves for protection.

D339c39d94d65460e28128174845f423

(821)

on June 10, 2010
at 01:23 PM

an earlier post listed cashews as a paleo snack: http://paleohacks.com/questions/5265/paleo-movie-snacks

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on June 10, 2010
at 02:41 PM

So? If the end result isn't toxic, then it shouldn't be a problem.

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