Eating Acorns

Discussion in 'Recipes & Remedies' started by adiantum, Feb 14, 2014.

  1. adiantum

    adiantum Junior Member

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    Once again someone has expressed an interest in how to use acorns, since I've let it slip that I've made them part of my daily diet. The local native oaks (valley and blue oaks, Quercus lobata and Q. douglasii) drop some acorns most years, and occasionally drop huge crops. They are large (comparable to that of the bur oak, but the trees are more drought tolerant), and leach readily in a few hours. Other species have more tannin and will take longer, and some contain more fat, so my method of storage might not work due to rancidity issues.

    1. Harvesting and Processing: Some green acorns will start dropping from midsummer on. Usually I ignore them till they are almost full sized, since they won't contain much nutmeat and are often wormy. But unless I suspect it will be a full "mast" year, I start gathering them once they seem full sized and clipping open a few shows me they are filling out. (The other advantage of keeping the crop picked up under the yard trees is it removes a food source for pest critters (gophers, squirrels, deer, wild pigs) and discourages them from coming right up among the gardens).
    These acorns are not like hard-shelled nuts.....the shell is thin and pliable, comparable to that of a chestnut. I take a good sharp pair of hand pruners and simply clip each one in half, and then into quarters. Usually any worm will confine himself to a quarter or a half, and these I separate for the chickens. The nutmeats are easily separated from the shells at the quarter stage. Then for storage I take the quarter pieces and spread them on trays or screens in the sun and dry them until they are brittle. I try to finish them in my solar cooker and push the temp. up to 150 F/65C for a while to kill any worm eggs. There is a thin reddish skin on the shell side of the nutmeat that is quite bitter....I rub the dry pieces together in a bucket to rub this free and then winnow it away by pouring the pieces between two buckets in the wind. Then I store the pieces in tightly closed jugs in our pantry, just like grain. I'm still eating on last year's! Many online resources change the order of processing and storage, with the acorns being ground and leached before drying, or else stored frozen, or (as was traditional among native peoples) storing them in the shell until needed for use. I've just found this method works for me. Without native land management, including cool burning, I think a large proportion of in-shell stored acorns would go wormy.
    I have limited freezer space, and my acorns are low in fat (unlike some), so I detect no evidence of rancidity after storage.

    2. Preparation for Cooking: When I want to make a batch, I grind the dry acorn chips in our Vita-Mix blender to a fine flour, and put this in a colander lined with a relatively coarse woven fabric. Usually I set this outside next to a thirsty plant and set a hose to drip-drip-drip into it, enough to keep water above the level of the meal. The water will trickle through the meal and on out, carrying the tannin with it. If I think of it, I might stir it from time to time, but it doesn't seem to need this. With my species, six to eight hours of this is sufficient to remove the bitterness....just taste to be sure. Other species might take longer.

    3. Cooking. I use acorn meal any way I would use corn meal.....firstly as a boiled "gruel" or "polenta". Usually I add some wood ash....this supposedly helps neutralize any remaining tannin. Some sources recommend adding a bit of clay, too....haven't gotten there yet. The mush will swell up and absorb quite a bit of water while cooking. It doesn't need to be boiled a long time. I use this often as a replacement for rice....it agrees well with the taste of curry, for instance.
    The second recipe is a baked bread, usually mixed about 2/3 acorn with 1/3 other flour.....my homegrown cornmeal is a favorite. This is a powder raised bread, following from cornbread recipes, using baking powder and egg. Lately I've taken to letting it ferment as a sourdough for one to four days or so (the cooler, the longer), until it starts to get a bit bubbly. Then, before baking, I add a bit more ash and this seems to help it rise nicely.
    Both of these I usually cook in cast iron pots, either in my solar cooker or on the embers of a woodstove fire......
     
  2. Rick Larson

    Rick Larson Junior Member

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    Is there any other nut they taste like?
     
  3. adiantum

    adiantum Junior Member

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    It's a relatively bland starchy thing, again more comparable to chestnuts, potatoes or even corn meal rather than most other nuts, which are more oily.
     
  4. andrew curr

    andrew curr Moderator

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    Ive had Korean woofers make a kinda Jelly by repeatedly soaking the peeled and then crushed acorns!!
    Does nt taste too bad and it stops you feeling hungary !!!


    Traditional Korean peasant food!
     

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