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Laura Jean Wilde
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What is your opinion on the edibleness of acorns? I've heard some species are more palatable than others. I tried some from my White Oak .... harsh. I even tried boiling them a bit first: Probably nutritious but not likely to convert the general public. Did I miss something? Also do you have any idea what type of grinder would work to convert them and/or cattails to a usable flour?
 
Ginger Keenan
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Acorns from red oaks need to be soaked first. White oak have less tannin and you MAY be able to forgo the soak/rinse depending on the particular harvest. Cold water rinsing is the way to go. Think of a stream/brook and a mesh bag of shelled acorns. You must shell the acorns or you will get the tannin from the shell. hot water locks in the tannin. Two acorn related books I enjoy a lot: It Will Live Forever: Traditional Yosemite Indian Acorn Preparation by Julia Parker and Nature's Garden: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants by Samuel Thayer

They both have recipes. Good luck!
 
Topher Belknap
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I had some acorn bars at the last common ground fair. Quite tasty, though I didn't get the recipe. The person I spoke with said that he used both types of acorns.

Thank You Kindly,
Topher
 
Alder Burns
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I eat our local acorns daily ( from the CA blue and valley oaks, both in the white oak group) both in bread and as a boiled gruel similar to grits or polenta. And I feed them to my laying hens. See my blog at udanwest.blogspot.com for details.....
 
John Merrifield
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Alder,
Curious how you process the acorns for your hens and if you've noted any change in egg quality or production? I have yet to see my hens attempt to eat an acorn.
John
 
Arthur Haines
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Laura, I consume acorns every week for food. Given that they were staples of very indigenous groups, we know they were an excellent and non-allergenic food source. Please see this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QitkIGNwUgs, it will give you lots of information about acorns. I've also attached an article printed in the Bulletin of Primitive Technology. In short, there are no acorns that should be eaten without being soaked/leached, especially if you eat them in any quantity. Though many state they can be eaten without processing, you are consuming at least two antinutrients that remove mineral nutrition from your body (no different than consuming grains, legumes, nuts, and seed-like fruits--which our society rarely processes properly to maximize nutrition and minimize antinutrition). Best wishes.
Filename: Do-Sweet-Acorns-Still-Need-To-Be-Leached.pdf
File size: 203 Kbytes
 
Adrien Lapointe
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Something went wrong with the video in your post Arthur, but here it is:

 
Adrien Lapointe
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Arthur,

how do you consume the acorns?

I personally have used them in a soup once and made biscuits a few times with them. I thought the red acorns had a really nice smell when I processed them, something like maple almost.
 
Arthur Haines
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Adrien, we consume them many, many ways. Mostly, we make foods from cold-leached acorn flour, like pancakes, sourdough-leavened breads, pizza and pie crusts, hummus (replacing the chick peas with acorn), etc. I sometimes also use hot-leached acorns in soups and as filling for tacos and wraps (the acorns replace the beans). We also make hot cereal from each kind of leached acorn. One of my favorite recipes uses cold-leached acorn flour, cooked as a hot cereal, with venison and bit of maple syrup. It is very satiating and quite tasty.

Thanks for taking care of the video issue.
 
Adrien Lapointe
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Do you have many recipes in your book?

I heard that the oil from acorns is similar to olive oil. Is this something you heard too?
 
Arthur Haines
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Adrien, no recipes, just some general ideas of how you can use acorns in your cooking. Up to 65% of the oil in acorns is the monounsaturated fat oleic acid (the same one in olive oil, which is up to 75% this lipid). So, acorns provide us with a local way of obtaining the health benefits of olive oil.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Adrien, and welcome big time to Arthur, et al,

There are many little recipes here and there in books and on the web. My Grandmother would "cut in" 50% acorn meal for many recipes that called for ground corn. Acorns are (were) a huge staple in many Native diets. I grew up with the chore of harvesting, and "leaching" acorn. Great "mast" for live stock and, of course, the best prosciutto ham in the world is acorn raised and fattened.

Soups, stew, stuffing, flat breads, meat pies...the list can go on and on.

I recommend to students to experiment with the local variety and different methods. Also remember that the "change water" from leaching mixed with "brian" is a key element in good brain tanning.

Regards,

j
 
Adrien Lapointe
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Have you ever tried to press the oil out of the acorns?

On the recipe side, how do you use the flour? Do you mix it with wheat flour or other nut flours? We have substituted almond flour with acorn flour in the recipes we tried. I am sensitive to wheat, so I am always looking for gluten-free alternatives.

Any tips on speeding up the cracking process?
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Adrien L. wrote:On the recipe side, how do you use the flour?


Replace with 50% (or in some cases 100%) corn (maze) flour...

Adrien L. wrote: Do you mix it with wheat flour or other nut flours?


I have not...Grammie did all the time...lost much...when I lost her...Much can be gleaned from the "old ones" and she and her friends ranged in birth dates from the 1870's to the 1890's...Wisdom of life times and generations...

Adrien L. wrote:We have substituted almond flour with acorn flour in the recipes we tried. I am sensitive to wheat, so I am always looking for gluten-free alternatives.
Look to any Maze recipes and Acorn can often replace



j
 
Ryan Crafter
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Hello friends, I want to pass along a new recipe to those who enjoy in the versatility of the almighty acorn. Acorn harvest was amazing last season in the north valley of California for several reasons. First off, the oaks literally rained heaping mounds of food this year. And I discovered several different Oak trees around Redding that offered a nearly tannin free nut, worthy of fresh eating (just for the experience) but not in quantity... I personally ate around 10 of these unleached acorns in one sitting (couldn't help myself) and had no digestive issues. Not just that... trees that I've harvested from in the years past seemed to be much lower in tannin than in previous years. I'm not sure what that means for the oaks but it translated to a great season of nut processing and some room for experimentation. This was the first season I was able to leach the acorns in a pure mountain spring! I've wanted to try this method for as longs as I've been harvesting and I'll never go back to the water changing method!

Next year I'd like to try burying them in the sand for the winter till they begin to sprout. I ask - what do yall think about eating unleached sprouted acorns? If the problem with eating unleached acorns is the same as other seeds -anti-nutrients... couldn't you just sprout? I'd really like to hear your opinions!

We start by harvesting only the best (bug hole free & low tannin) acorns.
I've heard but never tried to weed out bug infested nuts by putting the entire acorn into water - if it floats it has bugs. try it let me know

Anyway, remove the acorns from the shell which is easier to brake by hand when the shell is dry (they tend to open themselves for you this way) - also super easy if you just smash the heck out of them and pour the broken shell and nut into a bucket of water - alakazam - the shells float and the meat sinks.

It's much better to have chunks that are coarsely smashed than a fine powder or whole nuts.

I separated the nuts according to individual tree - that way you don't get to wide of a tannin margin.

I tossed the nuts into a coarse mesh straining bag used for straining fruit in wine making and found a beautiful mountain spring with ample water flow, tied the bag to a secure tree root and tossed it into the spring in a spot where the bag could sit completely submerged in plenty of fast moving water.

If you have the ability - I would recommend agitating the nuts every few days to remove sediment and allow nuts in the center of the bag to move outwards - (or try leaching at the base of a small waterfall) this will expatiate the leaching and allow uniformity in the processing. Otherwise, depending on how tannic the nuts are, leave them in the spring till they are no longer bitter and the nut chunks are uniformly brown with little to no white left in them when smashed. Roughly between 2-6 weeks.

Dry the chunks on a screen somewhere dry. (near a wood stove - but not so near that they get hot - these acorns are still raw!).

I recommend freezing the completely dry nuts for 24-48 hours just to make sure there will be no insect larva crawling around in your acorn jars in a few months.

Finally, put the nuts into a glass storage jar with a lid and store in a cool dark place.

Having jars of leached nuts on hand really makes all the difference! Often times I rarely used acorns I've harvested because processing them every time I want to eat them is too much work. But now I am using them a few times a week for everything from a flower substitute to a soup thickener.

Happy processing! NOW GET COOKING!

Spring leached acorns still contain their valuable starch whereas, hot water leached acorns have lost most their starch (and other goodies) and will not bind well for baking. Cold leached acorns are best for breads and pastries whereas hot water bathed spring leached acorns will remove the starch to use in soups.

THE RECIPE TO PUT THE ACORN ON THE MAP---- ACORN CHOCOLATE!

This recipe is the product of a mistake, which I imagine is where most of the amazing treats we have today come from - sauerkraut, beer, gunpowder......
I was making an acorn crust apple cobber and had set aside a portion of dough for a vegan friend to make with coconut oil instead of butter. We placed his crust on a wood stove where it was neglected and forgotten for several hours. When we discovered the mistake the burned to a crisp crisp was cast aside. Several hours later our vegan friend broke a chunk off the now solidified blacked crust and took a bite. His eyes dilated, his brows furrowed, and the corners of his lips began to rise. "Chocolate!" he exclaimed as we all swarmed in for a taste.
Since that day I've been experimenting with this recipe and it is getting near perfection!

ACORN CHOCOLATE - the civilized way (this recipe is refined from my personal recipe to suit the refined taste buds of the majority and also for the availability of ingredients common to those still living the dream)

2 C. Acorn flower - finely ground and sifted of any impurities for a smooth chocolate or more coarse for a nutty texture

1/2 - 2/3 C. Sugar - Honey or maple syrup is good too but sugar really gives it that western flavor.

2/3 C. Coconut oil - This really needs to be any fat that will be solid at room temp for the chocolate to "set".

Just a dash of sea salt.

Experiment! I bet some oil infused with mint or substituting rendered animal fat, butter, or my favorite - ghee for the coconut oil....
I hope some of you will make this out of 100% personally harvested ingredient!

DIRECTIONS-
Dry toast the acorn flower on a medium heat for 5 - 10 min to achieve a darker color and flavor.
Melt the fat in a small pan.
When the flour has browned, add the sugar and salt than add the liquefied oil and mix thoroughly.
Place a spoon full of mixture into individual muffin wrappers and place the tin somewhere cold to allow the chocolate to cool and harden.

Alternately, you can try the original method - likely to be chalk full of healthy carcinogens - cooked on a wood stove for several hours which tastes more like brittle than chocolate - although, I would use an oil that is more stable in high heat than raw coconut oil! They are both amazing recipes - I know people who were skeptical of eating acorns before that ate the heck of these things!

Let me know what you think!

Keep experimenting and I hope life's little surprises are sweet for you!
 
Arthur Haines
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Dear Ryan, sprouting the acorns would take care of (to great extent) the phytic acid, but it would not take care of the tannins. Acorns of the white oak group are far more tannic than they taste/feel. For example, some that possess half the tannins of highly bitter and astringent acorns only taste 1/10 as bitter. For some reason, the tannins are concealed from us (initially, while chewing) in this group. Though, like you, I occasionally eat a few unleached to taste them in the raw state. The problem comes when this food becomes a bigger part of the diet (even if just seasonally), as it adds to the already improperly prepared grains, legumes, nuts, and seed-like fruits that most Americans consume on a daily basis (a recipe for poor dental and osteo health, among other issues). Sounds like you had a great harvest--I can appreciate the site of that. Best wishes.
 
Ryan Crafter
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That's really interesting to know about not tasting tannin! I had assumed that feeling and tasting the astringency in my mouth was the tell tale sign of the level of tannic acid. And also good to clear up any misunderstanding about the method I had in mind - burying acorns over winter, on the bank of a stream to leach them of tannin. Hypothetically when they begin to sprout in these conditions they should be low enough in tannin to eat raw don't you think?
 
mary yett
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Thanks for sharing that great video-I will be watching more of your videos.

I have 10 2 yr old burr oaks and a dozen new seedlings of Shuettes crossed with mainly burr oak. I plan on grafting these with low tanin white/burr oak scion varieties that have been developed by some of my NAFEX buddies over many decades. Seed and scion swapping is a lot of fun.

I should see acorns from my grafted plantations (mainly along fencerows and as rows in multi row shelterbelts (windbreaks)) in half the time it takes seeding trees to sexually mature.

I hope to harvest many of these acorns as pork or turkey, but I plan on producing and selling cold leached flour and prepared acorn food items as well.

My question to you is- "What prepared food items would you recommend selling as a small scale farm value added product?" Obviously, I have several years to play around with recipes using local wild acorns.

Thanks,

Mary
 
David Livingston
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Anyone know the situation regarding european oaks ?
We have a couple of 200 year old ones here on site . Great wonderful trees it would be cool to be able to eat the acorns in my bread.

David
 
Alder Burns
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I think that any and every oak, the world around, produces acorns that are edible....it just depends how much leaching is required. Some produce acorns that are pretty small, too, so there's a lot more shelling per unit yield than from those with big acorns. Most oaks fall into two groups....the "white" (with lobed leaves) and "red" (with pointed or jagged edged leaves). In general the red oak group contains more tannin and requires longer leaching. Actually here in CA, the native people preferred these, because they store longer and are richer in oil.
Going on what others have posted.....the question that comes to mind is if you cannot judge by taste when the tannins are really gone, how does one know when a leaching session is complete?
 
Adrien Lapointe
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Alder Burns wrote:Actually here in CA, the native people preferred these, because they store longer and are richer in oil.


Funny enough, I was reading last week that squirrels think the same and will eat the white oak acorns first and store the red oak ones.
 
Adrien Lapointe
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David Livingston wrote:Anyone know the situation regarding european oaks ?


David, here is a video talking about the importance of oak as food in pre-historic Britain. Perhaps you have the same type of oaks where you are.

 
Arthur Haines
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Alder, generally speaking, you can tell when the soaking/leaching is done through absence of bitter taste and lack of astringency in the mouth. If you eat an acorn or two from a tree that produces "sweet acorns" (which doesn't exist, but let's say one that is mild tasting), you might not experience anything much for bitterness or astringency. But if you grind up a bunch into flour (fresh, without leaching) and start eating them, you will notice those sensations. While concealed from our palate in fresh, whole acorns, ground up white oak group acorns will be more bitter once ground and/or cooked (the tannins become more noticeable to our palate). Best wishes.
 
David Livingston
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Ah the great Ray Mears !
I would like to see this chap on Permies . He is the real deal .

David
 
R Scott
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David Livingston wrote:Ah the great Ray Mears !
I would like to see this chap on Permies . He is the real deal .

David


Yup, he is one from the bushcraft community that would fit in well I think. Ancestral skills, foraging in different environments, general personality.

I really liked Arthur being here, and would love to see more like him in but specializing in different environments/regions.
 
Alison Sargent
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Here are some fascinating videos about native california acorn and buck-eye processing...
http://paleotechnics.wordpress.com/2014/06/06/some-very-cool-films-on-acorn-and-buckeye-processing/
 
Mike Cantrell
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Oikos Tree Crops has been working for a while to breed better food oaks- larger acorns, more numerous acorns, sweeter acorns, acorns earlier in the season, acorns on younger trees, and combinations of these. Good stuff.

http://www.oikostreecrops.com/The-Edible-Acorn/c-1-150/
 
Koren Vangool
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Hi all,
This may be a silly question, but do you need to leach if using white oaks for pigs or chickens? Also, do you need running water to leach or can you do multiple water changes over how many weeks? Do they leach faster if they're all broken up as opposed to whole (even out of the shell?)
Thanks!
Koren in Saskatoon, SK
 
Lynn Washington
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In the video with Ray Mears, do the hot rocks denature the nutrient value of the mush?
 
Dan Grubbs
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Is quercus phellos or willow oak considered a white or black oak? I read that it was of the red oak family, but which from there, white or black? I have five really nice mature willow oaks on my farm and knowing they are a great source of food, I'd like to know to which family of oaks it belongs.
 
Alder Burns
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I've been feeding acorns to my layers for six months now, and I describe the process in detail on my blog at udanwest.blogspot.com. Basically I shell and leach in six or seven daily changes of water in gallon paint cans, and after the last leaching I cook them in my solar cooker (or in the woodstove in winter) with some ashes and clay. It's a bit of work....half an hour or more every day, but I'm committed to get these few layers off of purchased inputs. They are still getting protein supplement, but that should be eliminated once my black soldier flies really get going.
Willow oak is, I'm pretty sure, an astringent member of the red/black oak group. The acorns are pretty small compared to other oaks....but....gotta use what you've got!
 
Sam Hubert
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Could people list which species have lower tannin levels? Does white oak mean Quercus alba or are we talking about all white oaks. Also, does anybody know of any cold hardy oaks that bear large nuts with low tannin levels?
And regarding bugs/rot in acorns: generally if the acorn has the cap on it is rotten, because the tree won't drop it prematurely with the cap on unless it is rotted/being eaten. So for the most part, all those without caps are good to go.
 
Alder Burns
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All white oak group acorns are generally lower tannin than red/black oaks, and there are species and individual differences. Q. macrocarpa, the bur oak, is the largest-nut species common in the East and Midwest (though I don't think it is common in the Northeast and Atlantic seaboard). The live oak (Q. virginiana) of the Southeast is of fairly low tannin, but often small.....then there are the common white oak and swamp white oak..... Oikos nursery in MI, as well as others, are selling some sweeter selections and larger nut selections, both species and hybrids.....
 
Laura Jean Wilde
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Arthur Haines wrote:Laura, I consume acorns every week for food. Given that they were staples of very indigenous groups, we know they were an excellent and non-allergenic food source. Please see this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QitkIGNwUgs, it will give you lots of information about acorns. I've also attached an article printed in the Bulletin of Primitive Technology. In short, there are no acorns that should be eaten without being soaked/leached, especially if you eat them in any quantity. Though many state they can be eaten without processing, you are consuming at least two antinutrients that remove mineral nutrition from your body (no different than consuming grains, legumes, nuts, and seed-like fruits--which our society rarely processes properly to maximize nutrition and minimize antinutrition). Best wishes.


Thank you!
 
Josiah Miller
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I'm planning on adding acorns to a few batches of Cider to increase the tannin content (most common varieties of apples in the USA are very low in Tannins so lack the body/mouthfeel European variety ciders).
Ill roast the acorns afterwards and then see what they taste like after soaking in some apple/alcohol for a few weeks.

I've also heard of people putting acorns in with their batches of pickles to make them crispier (same idea as grape leaves).
 
Dan Grubbs
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After a bit of digging, I've determined that I do not have willow oaks, but something locally referred to as shingle oaks. The leaves, though skinny long and tapered, are slightly larger than the willow oak. I assume still part of the red oak family since it is not a lobed leaf.
 
Cj Sloane
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Like most things, my acorn obsession could go in multiple threads! I think I'm going to attempt to collect 100 lbs of acorns off my property and this seems doable. I will try a few recipes - acorn pasta does sound cool, but this article seems to seal the deal for me that a low carb diet makes more sense than a "paleo" diet.

So - most of those acorns will get fed to my livestock - mostly the pigs but probably chickens & turkeys and maybe treats for sheep/cows. I haven't quite figured out where to store the acorns. Maybe 5 gallon buckets in the house.

I will try my best not to dwell on the fact that 100 lbs of locally grown dried corn is $13. The corn isn't organic though and for the acorns no land was tilled or fertilized.


About 85 more lbs to go.
 
Adrien Lapointe
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CJ,

from your picture, I see you are collecting the ones that still have the little "hat". Those will often be infected by wevils as the tree sheds them unripe. The ripe ones will usually fall from the tree without the cap.
 
Cj Sloane
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No problem! Those are for the livestock anyway. I figure the weevils are extra protein which the acorns are a bit lacking in anyway. The ones with obvious holes or defects I'm giving to the pigs right away. The others I'm soaking in boiling water to kill the bugs & then drying in the oven for storage.

Only the most perfect will be for human consumption.
 
Adrien Lapointe
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I see, the ones infected by weevils are definitely not a problem for livestock. When I pick I have 2 buckets: one for the pigs and one for human consumption. I find it faster to sort at picking rather than later.
 
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