Should we consume acorns?
The acorn (in Arabic ballūta, holm oak) is a characteristic fruit of the Quercus trees, among which are the holm or the cork oaks, and, in addition, it is a common product in extremadura pastures.
Although we know them for being the main fooding for Iberian pigs during montanera, the acorn also has multiple benefits for the human being:
It is rich in carbohydrates and unsaturated fats.
They have antioxidant capacity associated with tannins.
Absence of gluten.
Presence of certain essential vitamins and minerals.
Even so, the consumption of fresh acorns is not widespread because it has a bitter taste. (We should know only few species produce fresh sweet acorns). But that does not mean there are different techniques to neutralize this bitterness, such as fermentation of the fruit with salt and water for a few months, or processing with flours and oils.
In fact, there are numerous archaeological evidences of consumption of acorn and other nuts throughout the northern hemisphere during the Neolithic period, and all around the world these days. Some studies even state the massive consumption of acorn is a factor of longevity among the populations of American Indians.
What benefits does eating acorns have for humans?
Thanks to the benefits that the American researcher David A. Brainbridge came to propose to FAO as a useful aliment in humanitarian crises due to its caloric and nutritional content. Although his proposals were not believed in the past, we can now affirm that there is an important movement supporting acorn consumption in the human diet, which is mainly supported in United States, Greece and Portugal.
As for the Iberian Peninsula, there are entrepreneurs nowadays who sell sweet acorns. These would come from manual collection by experts in this variety (which, as we have already mentioned, is very minority). But there is a real intention to promote consumption, which is why a European project called Prodehesa Montado has been created. Its main objective is to achieve cooperation between companies in the sector, farms and experts to promote the acorn in all its aspects, and increase its production significantly.
Let's give a warm welcome to the acorn as it returned to stay.