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Acorns for Many Uses

 
Adrien Lapointe
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About two weeks ago, Prof. David A. Bainbridge contacted me to point me to one of his paper about using acorns as food.

I read the paper and I must say it contains excellent information on the history of acorns as food, on their nutritional value and on recipes to use them.

I particularly enjoyed the table he has comparing soil erosion on slopes planted with corn vs. one planted with acorn. For a 10% slope planted with corn in Iowa, 24 tons/acre/yr of soil is lost whereas the same slope planted with oaks loses 0.002 tons/acre/yr. And I think if you design the system well, with swales and earthwork you could probably not lose anything.

One interesting use he mentions is acorns as a coffee substitute in many parts of the world. I am sure it would not taste anything like coffee, but that would be interesting to try.

Another interesting use is acorn oil as a substitute to olive oil. According to Prof Bainbridge "The oil is very similar to olive oil and has a comparable flavor." and could actually be easier produce than olive oil. Plus since oaks grow in so many climates, it would be a great local source of oil. He talks about Quercus agrifolia and Quercus ilex in the paper, which are warmer climate oak species. I wonder if more northern species could produce good oil as well (e.g. White Oak).

This is a short paper that contains really good bricks of information. It is important to be able to use crops from our food forest or savanna (to take Mark Shepard's terminology).
 
Shelly Randall
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Thank You for the article. It contains a lot of useful information. I've been fascinated with acorns for a long time, and this helps fill in some gaps. It's really hard to find information on them.
 
Adrien Lapointe
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Here is a good video from Eric Toensmeier on processing acorns. This is an example of a tropical oak, but applies to other oaks as well.

 
Jordan Lowery
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I gather and eat acorns every fall. I get a few bucketfulls of black oak and a few others. Prefering the stream method and will do this when I can.

I like to make flatbreads and fry them in homemade lard.
Acorn muffins are excellent. Specially with local currants and elderberries.

Excellent information thanks for posting
 
Adrien Lapointe
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any pictures of the muffins? they sound very interesting. Do you use other flour for the mix?
 
Jordan Lowery
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No pictures. Sometimes I add flour from
The grains I grew and milled sometimes not. They both are good, and like the article says there are good oak tree acorns and the tree next to it might have fantastic acorns. Best to find a tree you fancy.

Sometimes i mix acorn flour with homemade masa for tamales. Excellent stuff.
 
Adrien Lapointe
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Here is an interesting recipe. I am thinking of trying it.

Has anybody tried to replace the corn flour with chestnut flour?

http://www.eatherenow.org/acorn-bread
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Yum. That looks excellent, Adrien. I have not cooked with acorn or chesnut flours, but I have cooked with almond, coconut and a HUGE variety of other gluten free flours. As long as the flours aren't overly strong or bitter tasting (for example, chick pea flour sometimes tastes bitter), and since you have eggs, fat and sweetener in the recipe, the texture should be just fine.

If you're looking for some of the gluten-type feel, but are still looking for more permaculture-style ingredients, I recommend adding tapioca, arrowroot or cornstarch (or dried starch from another tuber?) in place of part of the wheat/chesnut flour measure. Though the three starches I listed are so much lighter per dry measure, it works best to convert all measure to gram-to-cup equivalents when using them. Hope that's not too OT.

Looking forward to hearing about the results!
 
Adrien Lapointe
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Thanks for the pointers Jocelyn.

How would you use arrowroot in a recipe? We have used it to thicken sauces, but never in baked goods.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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I think arrowroot works similar to tapioca starch as a thickener - both get a bit gluey in a sauce, compared to other starches. For years my staple biscuit recipe was half tapioca starch, half a GF flour mix (primarily sorghum flour) and the tapioca gave the biscuits that chewy, almost glutenous texture. (I had a great bulk source for tapioca, so I've had more experience with that than arrowroot.)

Note that my biscuit ratio is probably unusual. In most GF baking the arrowroot (or other starch additives) would not be much more than 1/4 cup out of 2 cups flour(s) or so.
 
John Polk
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Here are a few native recipes for acorn, including a bread mix:

Cooking with acorns

 
Adrien Lapointe
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Just made some acorn "scones", completely gluten-free. We improvised on another recipe we have. The taste is good, but they are a bit dry. Fortunately butter fixes that problem
2013-11-10 19.24.18.jpg
[Thumbnail for 2013-11-10 19.24.18.jpg]
acorn scones
 
Jennifer Charlton-Dennis
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Wow a lot of great information!! We have a very large oak tree in our yard that produces Sooooo many Acorns! But this is an off year so nothing! Crap!
 
Adrien Lapointe
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Here is an excellent video about how to harvest and process the acorns.

 
Adrien Lapointe
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I started harvesting some acorns last week, I got about 3.5 lbs in a little less than 40 min. I think it will go faster once the bulk of it falls.

I also got this baby to make it faster to crack the acorns. I am now ready to make them a big portion of my diet. I am becoming a balanophage!

 
Cj Sloane
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I finally got a gallon of "good" acorns today so I started processing.

I put them in a pot and poured boiling water over them. I decided on boiling water to kill any bugs hanging around. The real purpose of the water was to do the float test. So many floated that I scooped them out and put 'em in a glass jar just to double check.

A disappointing amount of floaters but I did feed them to the pigs.
The good ones are on a sheet pan in the oven, drying by the pilot flame. I'm guessing I'll be down do a quart of good ones from my original gallon! I think I'll store them after they're dry to keep my options open.
 
Adrien Lapointe
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I found that the float test actually does not work and if I remember correctly, Sam Thayer (author of Nature's Garden) also says the same. What he recommends and what I have done is sort the acorns when I collect them. The ones that are not good will show signs of infection with the weevil (deformed disk, cap on, off color, little holes) and can be quickly put in the pigs bin. The other thing I found was that even if I missed some bad ones it was really easy to discard them when sorting the meal from the shells.

When I saw your pictures I thought you were trying to leach before craking them!
 
Cj Sloane
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I was certainly surprised I didn't get more leeching!

What about the float test didn't work? Or, how did you know it didn't work? By cracking open floaters and finding good meat?
 
Adrien Lapointe
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yup, something like 98% of the acorns floated so I was really surprised, especially because I had cracked a bunch of good ones before doing the test and they were all good. So I cracked them anyway and sure enough 98% of them were good. I guess that from an evolution point of view, it is better if the seeds can float so that they can colonize new ground instead or rotting at the bottom of the river!
 
Cj Sloane
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Adrien Lapointe wrote: I guess that from an evolution point of view, it is better if the seeds can float so that they can colonize new ground instead or rotting at the bottom of the river!


I thought about that earlier this year. I wondered if I could plant oaks along the edge of the pond or on the island, then it would be a simple matter to harvest the floaters. I found an acorn & threw it in the pond and it promptly sunk so I figured that wouldn't work! Then recently reading about the float test reinforced that. Guess I need to re-think it.
 
Meryt Helmer
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how do you get oil from acorns?
 
Jason Learned
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Has anyone posted about the lady in Greece who started an acorn project? She organized the sale of the acorn hats to Germany for tanning high quality leather and makes flour. I guess she makes a great deal of acorn cookies. She is saving for an oil press. I wonder what the omega 3 balance of acorn oil is?

This is her site: http://www.iloveacorns.com/hamada.php

She did a TED talk too.
 
Jason Learned
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Meryt Helmer wrote:how do you get oil from acorns?


I think an expeller press will work fine to extract oil from them.
 
Ginger Keenan
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Try this to help your harvesting efforts: http://www.holtsnutwizard.biz/

Try this to extract oil:
http://www.easyoilpress.com/

I lay my acorns out to dry within our house and let the weevils come out as a second screening after the initial screening when harvesting them. I use cookie cooling racks to hold the acorns over a cookie tray to catch the weevils.

I have learned how NOT to dry and store them due to a few seasons of trial and error x-(. Do not leave them sitting in a bucket for any length of time. They will get moldy! If you must have them in a bucket, poor them into an empty bucket twice per day to air them out. Get the acorns to a single layer ASAP so they can start drying naturally.
 
Lorenzo Costa
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Adrien Lapointe wrote:I started harvesting some acorns last week, I got about 3.5 lbs in a little less than 40 min. I think it will go faster once the bulk of it falls.

I also got this baby to make it faster to crack the acorns. I am now ready to make them a big portion of my diet. I am becoming a balanophage!



Hi Adrien, how is the baby called? I mean I have a lot of oaks and will start collecting and eventually will have to crack, what do I ask for if I want the baby you showed?
Of course I'll find the correspondant in italian but already having maybe a company that produces these babies is a starter.
thanks
 
Adrien Lapointe
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Good point Lorenzo! This is the Davebilt #43 nutcracker (http://shop.davebilt.com/Davebilt-43-Nutcracker-43.htm) and it is made in California.
 
Lorenzo Costa
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thanks I'll see for that on the italian market, and what do you use as a flour grinder?
I forgot to ask you before. I don't know what sort of tool to buy, if mechanical or electrical
 
Adrien Lapointe
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I use a Porkert Corn mill, I found that grinding the acorns coarsely first, passing them through a sieve to get the bits that are already flour size out and regrinding them worked best.

As a note, I don,t think I mentioned it, but grinding fresh acorns (i.e. undried ones) can be hard. It might be easier to extract the oil when they are fresh. Anybody in Spain or Portugal that could talk about the process they use over there? I read that they use the oil there (an also make a liqueur out of acorns).
 
Yves Baggi
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Has anyone an idea about the oil content of acorns and if it could be use as fuel?

Thanks for any links or info.

cheers
 
Susan Koble
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I have lots of acorns. If the deer, squirrels, and birds leave me any, I'll be excited to try some of these ideas.
 
Ginger Keenan
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Oil content and other nutrition info here:

http://skipthepie.org/nut-and-seed-products/nuts-acorns-raw/#fats
 
Suellen Ocean
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A friend of a friend alerted me to this forum. How cool, people talking about one of my favorite subjects... eating acorns! I've been harvesting and cooking with acorns since the late 1970's so I find this all very interesting and optimistic. You may have heard of the book, "Acorns and Eat'em," that I wrote. It's been available as a free download through the California Wildlife Federation for years (http://www.californiaoaks.org/html/reference.html). For those wanting a printed book, they are available here:
https://www.createspace.com/4391559.

You can watch the video here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=CG-5EDrHDhM

Hoping for a much better harvest this year,
Suellen Ocean
 
Mat Smith
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Adrien Lapointe wrote:


Here is an interesting recipe. I am thinking of trying it.

Has anybody tried to replace the corn flour with chestnut flour?

http://www.eatherenow.org/acorn-bread


Oh my god that looks delicious!
Are baked goods using acorns generally available in the US? I'll be heading over to LA in a few weeks and would love to try acorn bread/baked goods!
 
Sam Hubert
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Does anyone here use beechnuts in similar ways? Although not as widespread as the oaks, American beech (Fagus grandifolia) is in the same plant family (Fagaceae) and is widespread here in the northeast and has nuts you can eat without any leaching of tannins, although still slightly bitter. Anybody out there making beech nut flour??
 
Adrien Lapointe
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Mat Smith wrote:
Oh my god that looks delicious!
Are baked goods using acorns generally available in the US? I'll be heading over to LA in a few weeks and would love to try acorn bread/baked goods!


I hear that you can find ready to use acorn flour in Korean grocery stores.
 
Mat Smith
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Adrien Lapointe wrote:
Mat Smith wrote:
Oh my god that looks delicious!
Are baked goods using acorns generally available in the US? I'll be heading over to LA in a few weeks and would love to try acorn bread/baked goods!


I hear that you can find ready to use acorn flour in Korean grocery stores.


Thanks, I'll check it out!
 
Cj Sloane
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Here are links to 2 articles by David Bainbridge in Mother Earth News:
Acorn Nuts: The Grain That Grows on Trees
Growing Acorns for Food
 
Cj Sloane
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This morning was the best for foraging acorns so far - 5 lbs in 30 minutes. Eventually I'll get my husband to tell me where all the big Oaks are on the property!

Anyway, here anther good link:
[url=http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2010/12/recipes-for-the-mighty-acorn-a-forager-experiments/67228/?single_page=true]
Recipes for the Mighty Acorn: A Forager Experiments[/url]

Acorn pasta and Acorn spaetzle? Cool. Also links to other acorn articles.
 
Suellen Ocean
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Hi Everyone,
I see some interesting ways to process acorns. Just want to share my favorite tool, the Texan Nut Sheller. I found it at a local farm supply store for about ten dollars. You can purchase them on the Internet (I have no connection with them) and they are still reasonably priced. Be careful though, keep it away from children because it has a very sharp blade. It works really well on opening up acorns.
Suellen
Texan Nut Sheller.jpg
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The Texan Nut Sheller
 
Josey Hains
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Wow, great thread with fantastic information. I haven't grown any yet but oaks do grow here. Very exciting to hear about all uses for acorns! Is there a difference in acorn flavour/quality between the different oak types? I guess my question is what oaks are recommended for baking, oil making, eating?
Thanks!
 
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