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Acorn Mush Preparation  RSS feed

 
gardener
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I wasn't sure if which forum, but it does make a bread, so I'm going with this one.

A long time ago in a land far far away (California, when I was a kid) I learned the basic recipe for acorn mush. Now I'm all growed up and got a house with beautiful large acorns that hit is on the head to signal fall, I thought I'd try it out. I verified online the recipe as best as I could and everyone in the family helped out. I floated them to remove the bad, they were already brown, so no need to dry. I then peeled them. All of us too turns mashing it. We got it down to about an average of steel crushed oats, maybe smaller, and then I put it in a mason jar. It was a large one and it was filled half way with the hand-milled acorns. Next I filled the jar with tap water and put a rag on top and soaked it. I would change the water every few hours, fridge it over night, and I did this for a week. Eventually, when after the week of this and it was still bitter, I let it go longer- still bitter, and then I eventually gave up and dumped it in the compost.

Why was it still bitter? What am I doing wrong? Was it the tap water was too chlorinated? or the grain needs to be real small? or I can't refrigerate it? Or do I need to just run water through it continually? Etc.?

Thank you!!!

Thank you!!

 
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Amit Enventres wrote:I wasn't sure if which forum, but it does make a bread, so I'm going with this one.

A long time ago in a land far far away (California, when I was a kid) I learned the basic recipe for acorn mush. Now I'm all growed up and got a house with beautiful large acorns that hit is on the head to signal fall, I thought I'd try it out. I verified online the recipe as best as I could and everyone in the family helped out. I floated them to remove the bad, they were already brown, so no need to dry. I then peeled them. All of us too turns mashing it. We got it down to about an average of steel crushed oats, maybe smaller, and then I put it in a mason jar. It was a large one and it was filled half way with the hand-milled acorns. Next I filled the jar with tap water and put a rag on top and soaked it. I would change the water every few hours, fridge it over night, and I did this for a week. Eventually, when after the week of this and it was still bitter, I let it go longer- still bitter, and then I eventually gave up and dumped it in the compost.

Why was it still bitter? What am I doing wrong? Was it the tap water was too chlorinated? or the grain needs to be real small? or I can't refrigerate it? Or do I need to just run water through it continually? Etc.?



What species of oak are you starting with? Some species are so heavily loaded with tannins that they're not useful unless there is a famine. We've never done acorns with chlorinated water (our home system is a rainwater cistern) so don't know if that is causing some of the problem, but everything else you describe is how we would do it.
 
Amit Enventres
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I think a red oak, which should work... I'll have to double-check though. The leaves are falling off right now and it's right next to what I think is a pin oak.

Do you get it down to very fine flour before soaking? Does it usually take a week with water changes every few hours during the day? When changing the water, do you squeeze the mush through a cloth or just drain off the top?

Thank you!
 
Larisa Walk
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Red oaks are higher tannin than white. Around here they are more prevalent on a yearly basis so they were used for food, although the white and burr oaks have much better flavor and way less tannin. When we've done burr acorns we ground the nuts into a crumbly meal (about the size of corn meal), soaking if for a week, changing out the water a couple of times/day by straining the mash into a stainless steel mesh strainer.  Red oak acorns would need more water changes but not sure how much more. Maybe start with 4 times/day for a week?

I read somewhere that English oaks are even higher tannin than Reds yet still were eaten in times of famine.
 
Amit Enventres
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Thank you Larisa! That will be a big help for next year.
 
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This thread caught my eye as I'm finishing writing an acorn foraging book and cookbook this week and we've been processing acorns for two months now.  :)

It sounds like your acorns have a lot of tannins but they can definitely still be delicious and worth the trouble.  You might have better luck with hot water processing or just going a little bit longer with your cold water processing.

Basically, there are two ways of processing the bitter tannins out of acorns -- hot water leaching and cold water leaching.  Hot water leaching involves boiling whole acorns in repeated changes of boiling water (never add it to cold water once you start the process or you'll lock in the bitter).  Acorns with lots of tannins may take a dozen changes of water, whereas milder ones may take three.  You can also do cold water leaching, which is what you did.  If your acorns had very high tannins they may take well over a week and up to two.  You can also do quick cold water leaching, by grinding them and then putting them in a tea towel and running a slow trickle of cold water through them.  It would take a long time (up to 15 minutes) with high tannin acorns though and I find that very wasteful so I don't do it.  You also rinse out all the beneficial starches if you do that method.  Some hard core foragers do the toilet tank cold water leaching method.  Tie them up in a sack in a cleaned toilet tank (the back where the fresh cold water is stored) and leave them for as long as it takes (up to a few weeks for high tannins).  This is similar to one of the ways Native Americans processed acorns, by putting them in containers in a running stream.  I can't bring myself to even try that method even though people point out that only fresh water goes into the holding tank.  Also, it may stain the bowl beige from the tannins.

In any case, after you process them with cold or hot water processing then you dry, bake, dehydrate or roast the acorns and grind them into flour, freeze them, or use them fresh for things like acorn porridge, acorn burgers (delicious), acorn milk or in any way you'd use beans (they'll be soft from the boiling unless you dry, bake or roast them).

Hot water leaching is fast but takes out the fats and starches.  I prefer hot water leaching if I'm going to roast the acorns and use them for flour in baked goods with other flours or for acorn coffee or flavoring.  There's no gluten in acorn flour but it works great mixed in with other flours (wheat or GF mixes).  If you plan to use all acorn flour in baking or recipes, I'd do cold water leached acorn flour that's been dehydrated.  That tastes milder and is lighter in color, and makes a delicious porridge, polenta, etc.  You keep the natural starches that way too, which makes it great for thickening. The flavor of roasted acorns is wonderful in anything where you want acorn flavor to shine (it's a fabulously unique, wonderful flavor).  I also use roasted acorns to make acorn-infused butter, acorn extract for baking, etc.

Acorns were once a staple food for people around the world, and still are for some cultures.  Once you know how to treat them you'll find that they are really wonderful tasting and they are also incredibly healthy and sustainable (much better for the planet than farming).  You can use acorn meal in any recipe that calls for corn meal and it works nearly identically but it has a much richer flavor.  Acorns are also fantastic vegetarian ingredients.  They make the best vegetarian meatballs I've ever had and also are wonderful in things like acorn creamer and vegan acorn maple ice cream.

If anybody would like any of the recipes I've mentioned, let me know and I'll post them.  :)  I also have a ton of pictures of things I've made with acorns and the acorn processes (hot and cold water leaching, etc.) on my Instagram account here: https://www.instagram.com/magicandmayhem/.

Here are a few things I've baked with acorns recently (hopefully that worked and it shows!).  Hope that helps!

~Alicia

acorncollage.jpg
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Amit Enventres
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That's a wealth of information! I'll have to work at those tannins harder I guess. I heard acorns have complete proteins or something, right? I would love some recipes. I figured on acorn bread, but meat balls and on ice cream? Cool!
 
Alicia Bayer
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Yes, acorns offer a complete protein so they're great for vegetarians. They also make a great flour that's gluten free and paleo.

Here's one easy recipe I made up last month that's in the book.  The night I made them, I was expecting my Azure Standard food coop shipment to come in and it didn't arrive.  I hadn't been to the grocery store in a while and was able to use frozen asparagus that we'd foraged for a cream of asparagus soup and these acorn drop biscuits, so I fed our family of 7 and a guest for basically free.  Organic too.  :)  These biscuits come together very quickly and taste great.  We're gluten free so I used gluten free flour for part but you can just use wheat flour too.  This is a great example of how you can use acorn flour with other flours to get the wonderful flavor and nutrition of acorns and still have the lightness and other good qualities of traditional flours.  

These happen to be gluten free and vegan (because I was out of milk but had non-dairy milk), but the recipe is completely adaptable to suit any dietary needs or whatever you have in your pantry.  

Acorn Drop Biscuits

Makes 8 large biscuits or about 15 small

Ingredients:

   1/2 cup acorn flour (hot or cold water leached, roasted or dried)
   1 cup gluten-free flour mix OR all purpose flour
   1 tsp baking powder
   1/2 tsp baking soda
   1/4 tsp salt
   1/2 tsp xanthan gum (omit if your mix has it or if using wheat flour)
   1/4 cup shortening (I use organic, you could probably also use lard)
   scant 1 cup non-dairy milk (or milk)
   1 TBS apple cider vinegar

Directions:

   Preheat oven to 425.
   Pour your apple cider vinegar into a measuring cup and then add milk to the one cup line.  Stir and set aside.
   In a mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients with a biscuit cutter or fork.
   Cut the shortening into the flour mix and mix until crumbly and no large lumps remain.
   Add the milk mixture to the dough.  Stir until blended.
   Drop by spoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet and bake 12-15 minutes or until just barely browned.

I've got to start supper but will post more later.  I think if you get the leaching down and get your acorns done you'll find that you fall in love with them as much as our family has.  :)

(Pic via instagram, so the color is a little more muted than real life)
acorndropbiscuits.jpg
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Alicia Bayer
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Here's another I developed for the book.  These are light in texture but have the wonderful acorn flavor.  My kids can't get enough of these.  I picked up a mini donut maker at Aldi's a few years ago for $15 but you can also just use a small muffin pan or something like that.  These work great with gluten free flour, too.  You can glaze them with an easy sugar glaze, toss them in powdered sugar or serve them plain.

Acorn Mini-donuts or Mini-muffins

Ingredients:
• 1 cup acorn meal
• 1 cup flour (or gluten free flour mix)
• 1 tsp salt
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 2 eggs
• ¼ cup of oil
• ½ cup sugar
• 2 cups milk or non-dairy milk
• Non-stick spray
• Powdered sugar or glaze, optional (see glaze recipe below)

Directions:

1. Preheat mini-donut maker or oven to 350.
2. Combine dry ingredients in a large measuring cup or pitcher with a pouring spout. Add oil, sugar, eggs and milk and stir until smooth. Add more milk if mixture seems thick, or more flour if it seems thin. The batter should pour easily but not be runny.
3. If using a mini-donut maker: Lightly spray inside of mini-donut maker with non-stick spray and pour batter just to fill each lower portion. Close the mini-donut maker and cook until the mini-donuts stop steaming and are lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Toss with powdered sugar or glaze.
4. If using a mini-donut pan or mini-muffin pan: Grease a mini donut pan or mini muffin pan. Fill wells 3/4 full and bake for about 10 minutes or until set and light golden. Toss with powdered sugar or glaze.

To glaze: While the donuts cook and cool, whisk together 1 cup powdered sugar and 4 tsp milk. When the donuts are cool enough to handle, dip the tops in the glaze. Quickly flip over so the glaze is on top and transfer to a plate.

acorndonuts.jpg
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Alicia Bayer
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And here's an example of a savory way to use them.  This uses the freshly leached acorns or you can rehydrate dried or roasted ones in hot water and then chop them.

Acorn Rice Patties  

Our kids are crazy about these. We usually serve them with mashed potatoes and gravy, but our youngest kids prefer them with ketchup. They are quite “meaty” even though they do not contain meat, and utterly delicious.  Note that this recipe calls for chopped acorns, which can be used in similar ways to garbanzo beans when they’re freshly processed or rehydrated.  The acorn flavor makes them taste much better than anything made with garbanzo beans though!
 
Ingredients:
• 1 cup acorns (if dried or roasted, soak overnight or boil for a few minutes to soften)
• 1 small onion,
• 2 small carrots
• 1 clove garlic
• 1 cup cooked white rice
• 2 eggs
• 3 TBS roasted acorn flour
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 tsp herb seasoning
• oil for cooking

Directions:

1. In a food processor, chop onion, carrots and garlic and blend until well minced, scraping down sides as needed. Saute in a bit of olive oil for about 5 minutes, or until cooked and onions are translucent.
2. Meanwhile, blend the acorns in the food processor until finely minced. Add the rice and blend just until rice is chopped.
3. In a large bowl, stir together the blended acorns and rice with the sauteed veggies. Mix in the rest of the ingredients.
4. Form into patties and fry in a small amount of oil on medium to medium-high heat until browned. Flip and fry on the other side. Keep warm in the oven as you cook the rest of the patties and serve with sauces or gravy of choice.

acornpatties.jpg
[Thumbnail for acornpatties.jpg]
 
Amit Enventres
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Wow! I just ate dinner but I'm salivating over these! Sounds like you have an amazing book!
 
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Alisha, your recipes look great!

I have not entered the arena of acorns. I have not found any info on how to shell the beasties. When I tried, it came down to me and a paring knife. I think I must be missing something that is obvious to everyone else. Could someone PLEASE post video, or pics of their process of peeling?
 
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I've worked with acorns off and on for several years, especially since moving here to CA where they are abundant, and made them a regular part of my diet, as well as that of my chickens and sheep, in years when they are abundant.  My loose thoughts:
1.  To shell them....get a good stout pair of hand pruners, and clip each acorn in half, and then in quarters.  At that point the chunks of acorn are easily separated from the shells.  This enable them to be shelled when fresh, as harvested, without drying beforehand.  With our oaks (CA blue and valley oaks, in the white oak group) many contain grubs, which will grow and tunnel through the acorns as they dry and spoil many of them.  But if they are shelled shortly after harvested, the grubs can be intercepted before damaging much of the nuts.
2.  My technique from that point is to then sun-dry the nut quarters until rock hard, and they can then be stored thus in jars or jugs in a cool place (though not for years, like grain, since they will gradually smell rancid).  
3.  When I want to make "a batch" of something I then quickly grind the dry acorn chunks in our Vita-Mix blender to a fine flour....the finer makes for quicker leaching.
4.  Then I leach by letting water drip through them as they are sitting in a piece of fabric in a colander....most of the year this is sitting outside near a thirsty plant with the hose doing the dripping, or it could also be done in the sink. Since much of the year I'm irrigating something somewhere anyway, water "waste" isn't an issue....I'm just using the water for something else on its way to watering the plant!  Ordinarily, with our oak species, and the fineness of the meal, one day of eight hours or so is sufficient leaching....the meal will taste bland when chewed.
5.  The simplest way I prepare the meal is to simply boil it in water, much as one would prepare corn grits or polenta; and the resulting "gruel" can be used in much the same way....as a starchy staple to which either sweet and fruity amendments or else savory and spicy ones are added....  To use it for something like cornbread, usually it needs to be cut half and half with some other meal, as it will otherwise be very dense.  So do this and add baking powder, etc. as for a cornbread recipe and bake as usual....
 
Amit Enventres
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The shelling I was able to do a bit different, but maybe less efficient too. Ours only drop when brown, so we don't have that drying phase and the shells are stiff, unless we want to climb trees, but that's the squirrels' territory and we have a verbal agreement with them on whose territory is whose. Back on topic: with my mortar and pestle, I found a firm knock on the head (of the acorn) breaks the shell from the nut and then they can be peeled like thick-skinned hard-boiled eggs. After about 3-4 cups of acorn grain, my finger tips were a bit sore though. But about 3 cups is what one tree gives us in one week, at this point we aren't looking for more.

But now a question: I was thinking for future speed: when I grew barely and sunflowers, a quick pulse in the blender cut and hulled them. Because nut sinks and hull floats, adding the pulsed "grain" to a container of water separated the hulls to the top and the grain below. Then I could dry the chunky "grain" and then, once dry, blend to a fine powder. Has anyone any insight if this would theoretically even work on acorns? or would wetting and drying lock in the tannins? I'm still at the how-to-get-the-tannins-out-with-the-normal-method phase of trying to eat acorns, so I'm not ready for experimenting for speed at this point, but while we're on the topic, I figured I'd ask.

Thanks!
 
Alicia Bayer
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I have heard of the cutting method with either hand pruners or even cutting them in quarters with a sharp knife.  We don't have a lot of trouble with them so I've never tried it.  If the acorns are dried a little bit in a warm oven, the shells often crack a bit and you can just pop them apart with your fingers.  Some of our family members use a nut cracker or pair of pliers to gently squeeze them and crack them.  My youngest daughter's preferred method is to put a handful between two layers of towel and bop them with a heavy mug to crack the shells.  :)
 
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Seconding the mug method! Here the burr oaks don't drop their acorns til they're dried, so I just line'm up and get out a big glass stein. One drop per acorn, and they make a nice satisfying crack when you do it right =)

My process is typically crack ->throw in blender ->add water and blend -> strain, hot water leach -> throw in the pan before adding anything else for ~5 minutes on medium. Does roasting really do more to bring out the flavor?

Alicia your recipes look fantastic! My partner is vegan and I'm always on the lookout for new soyless meat substitutes, can I bug you for that burger recipe?
 
Alicia Bayer
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Cody, my favorite acorn burger recipe has eggs (and I have not tried it with flax as a binder) but here are two that are vegan.  Acorns are by far my favorite ingredient for veggie patties, meatballs, etc.  You can also use the hot water leached acorns fresh in veggie patties or in pastas, etc. as a substitute for chickpeas or other beans.  Another option is to use acorn meal the way you would bread crumbs in other recipes for veggie patties.  I have been thinking of making a wild food vegan cookbook for the wonderful ways acorns and other wild foods can be used to make meat substitutes, non-dairy milks and even cheeses.  I developed a really tasty acorn maple ice cream that's vegan too, and an acorn maple coffee creamer that's really decadent and delicious.  Other wild foods also work really well for vegan dishes, like chicken-fried morel mushrooms and dryad's saddle mushrooms have that somewhat chewy texture that makes them perfect for alternative clam strips.  :)

And yes, roasting does change the flavor a fair amount.  If they are roasted at 350 they darken and take on a much more robust flavor, almost with a coffee undertone, though they still have the wonderful nutty, buttery, sweet acorn flavor.  If you bake breads with acorn flour you get a very different taste with dried acorn flour versus roasted.  The closest I can describe it is the difference between a nutty multi-grain bread and a rye bread.  The more acorn flour you use, the more pronounced the roasted flavor is, too.

Here are two of the acorn burger recipes.

Acorn Falafel Burgers (GF, V)
These easy vegetarian patties combine acorns and Middle Eastern flavors wonderfully.  You can serve them on a bun or on their own, topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, hummus, yogurt sauce, hot sauce or toppings of choice. The frying step gives them a crisper crust but you can skip this step if you like.  If so, be sure to lightly oil the pan before baking. These patties are delicate.  If you are not vegan, you can add an egg to help hold them together.
 
Ingredients:
• 1 cup fresh parsley or mild tasting wild greens
• 3 cloves garlic
• 2 TBS lemon juice
• 2 tsp cumin
• 1 tsp coriander
• 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
• 1/4 - 1/2 cup acorn meal
• salt and pepper to taste
• coconut oil or other high-heat oil

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375.  Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
2. Mix parsley, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper in a food processor and blend until parsley is well chopped.  Add the chickpeas and pulse until mixed but still somewhat chunky.
3. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and add ¼ cup of the acorn meal. Mix and add more acorn meal if needed or just a bit of warm water, just to form a workable dough that will hold together when pressed.  Taste and adjust seasonings.
4. Divide mixture into four balls and press each into a patty about 1/2” thick.  
5. Put patties on the prepared cookie sheet. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
6. Heat some coconut oil in a cast iron pan (enough to lightly coat the pan) on medium-high heat and fry the burgers for 3-4 minutes or until browned.  Flip and fry the other side until browned.  Transfer back to the cookie sheet.
7. Bake for 20 minutes and then flip, then bake about 10 minutes longer.  The longer you bake them, the firmer they will get.

Acorn Veggie Burgers  (GF, V)
Here’s yet another variation of the versatile acorn burger.  This is a great one for when you have lots of veggies to use from the garden, farmers’ market or CSA box.
 
Ingredients:
• 2 cups acorn meal
• 1 large eggplant, diced
• 1/2 onion, diced
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 small carrot, diced
• 1 stalk celery, diced
• 1/2 cup white wine or broth
• ¼ cup flax meal
• ¼ cup parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast
• 1 tsp herbs of choice (such as thyme, sage and oregano)
• salt and pepper to taste
• oil or butter for frying

Directions:

1. In a roasting pan, combine the eggplant, onion, garlic, carrots and celery and roast at 450 until the moisture is gone and the eggplant and onion are caramelized and golden brown.
2. Cool vegetables slightly and chop in a food processor until coarsely chopped.  Transfer to a large bowl.
3. Stir in the white wine, acorn meal, herbs, flax meal and parmesan or nutritional yeast, adding more flax meal if the mixture feels too wet and adding a splash of additional wine if it’s dry.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Form into burgers and fry at medium heat in oil or butter until golden on each side.

 
Joylynn Hardesty
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Cody DeBaun wrote:Seconding the mug method! Here the burr oaks don't drop their acorns til they're dried, so I just line'm up and get out a big glass stein. One drop per acorn, and they make a nice satisfying crack when you do it right =)

My process is typically crack ->throw in blender ->add water and blend -> strain, hot water leach -> throw in the pan before adding anything else for ~5 minutes on medium. Does roasting really do more to bring out the flavor?



As I interpret this, you crack the nuts. You do not peel them. You blend them in water. Then lift the shells from the top? You continue as posted.

Am I right or wrong?
 
Alicia Bayer
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Joylynn Hardesty wrote:

Cody DeBaun wrote:Seconding the mug method! Here the burr oaks don't drop their acorns til they're dried, so I just line'm up and get out a big glass stein. One drop per acorn, and they make a nice satisfying crack when you do it right =)

My process is typically crack ->throw in blender ->add water and blend -> strain, hot water leach -> throw in the pan before adding anything else for ~5 minutes on medium. Does roasting really do more to bring out the flavor?



As I interpret this, you crack the nuts. You do not peel them. You blend them in water. Then lift the shells from the top? You continue as posted.

Am I right or wrong?



You crack them and remove the shell, yes, then you can put them in the blender (I have never done that for hot water processing) or hot water process them whole.  If you plan to do cold water processing, then you do need to blend them first.  Once they are processed, the whole acorns can be dried, dehydrated or roasted and then ground into flour as needed or used for various recipes whole or chopped later.  

I generally do some acorns whole in hot water processing and then roast or dehydrate those, and some I do with cold water leaching for a lighter flour that I dehydrate or dry.  It's a matter of preference.

Some acorns also have a bitter peel on the outside called a testa (similar to what's on the outside of a peanut) that people remove in various ways.  If you do hot water processing whole, the testa generally comes right off.  There are various other methods to get the testa off, too.  I would NOT recommend blending them with the testa on for either hot or cold water processing if your testa does not come off.  We typically do Burr oak acorns, which don't cling to their testas.  

It sounds complicated but it really is not once you get the hang of it.    

Here is a graphic from my acorn book that talks a bit about the benefits of both methods.  Both work, and both are good for their own reasons but have drawbacks of their own.


acornleaching.png
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Cody DeBaun
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Alicia you're a treasure, thank you so much for the recipes and please let us know if you publish! I would be your first and most enthusiastic customer.

Jolylynn sorry about that, my process breakdown wasn't super clear. When I crack burr oak acorns, they seem to always crack into two neat halves, both shell and nut. I simply remove the nut from the shell (so long as the nut isn't rotten, it always comes out whole and easy), and toss the shell halves in one bowl and the acorn halves in another. By far the easiest nut to shell I've ever dealt with. Once I have a the separated nuts, I throw those in a blender with enough water to cover them, turn the blender on and wander off for a minute or three (takes a long time to blend to a small and uniform size, and I never seem to get to the point of 'meal'). Then I strain, through the ground acorn in a big glass pitcher, add water from the kettle, strain, water from the kettle, strain, water from the kettle. I repeat that process (waiting about 10 minutes between water changes) until I've lost count of how many times I've changed the water and/or the water comes out clear.

I've heard multiple people rave about the taste, but with the process I'm using I find they come out pretty bland. It's a nice additive for soups, stews, breads and even pasta sauce, but can anyone tell me if a different process (cold water leaching, roasting), will bring out more of the flavor?
aaacorn.jpg
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Whoops, wrong picture.  The point I wanted to make was that you don't need to peel them, so long as it's dry the shell will crack and the nut comes right out. Here's what it looks like after one good whack with something heavy:
aaconr.jpg
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Alicia Bayer
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Cody DeBaun wrote:Alicia you're a treasure, thank you so much for the recipes and please let us know if you publish! I would be your first and most enthusiastic customer.

Jolylynn sorry about that, my process breakdown wasn't super clear. When I crack burr oak acorns, they seem to always crack into two neat halves, both shell and nut. I simply remove the nut from the shell (so long as the nut isn't rotten, it always comes out whole and easy), and toss the shell halves in one bowl and the acorn halves in another. By far the easiest nut to shell I've ever dealt with. Once I have a the separated nuts, I throw those in a blender with enough water to cover them, turn the blender on and wander off for a minute or three (takes a long time to blend to a small and uniform size, and I never seem to get to the point of 'meal'). Then I strain, through the ground acorn in a big glass pitcher, add water from the kettle, strain, water from the kettle, strain, water from the kettle. I repeat that process (waiting about 10 minutes between water changes) until I've lost count of how many times I've changed the water and/or the water comes out clear.

I've heard multiple people rave about the taste, but with the process I'm using I find they come out pretty bland. It's a nice additive for soups, stews, breads and even pasta sauce, but can anyone tell me if a different process (cold water leaching, roasting), will bring out more of the flavor?



Aw, thank you, Cody!  The Kindle version should be out within a week but it generally takes another couple of months for the print version since the process is so different.  That was the schedule for my elderberry book.  I'll post when it's available.  

As for the bland taste, it sounds as if you may be processing all the flavor out of them -- especially since you're using burr oak acorns which contain fewer tannins anyway.  Most people who do hot water leaching use whole acorns and you don't have to get the water absolutely clear.  Once it's light in color you can taste one and see if there's still a noticeable bitterness.  I have never gone till all clear, just till it's no longer dark brown.  With hot water processing I roast the acorns for a deeper flavor but even dried at low heat they have a really rich, buttery flavor.  I think if you try leaching them whole (a little less time) and then roasting or drying you'll find that they are really wonderful.  I've heard they taste most similar to chestnuts but I haven't had chestnuts so I can't say.

Cold water leaching would involve doing your blending in water process and then just keeping them in jars, pouring off the dark tannin water that rises to the surface several times a day and adding cold water.  That takes about a week and sometimes more (for acorns with lots of tannins like those in the red oak family).  The benefit there is that you keep more of the nutrients and the starches, so it's far better for things like porridge (which is crazy good with acorn meal), acorn polenta, dotorimuk (an acorn flour Korean delicacy that is cooked like a savory jello-like consistency and sliced, then topped with a sort of kimchi layering of sauces and chopped vegetables) or anything made with full acorn flour like rustic acorn cakes.  

Cold water processed acorn flour reminds me a bit of almond meal in how it tastes and works in recipes.  It's lighter, blander, but a great paleo/gluten-free flour or meal and still more flavorful than things like wheat flour or corn meal.  

Roasted or dried hot water leached acorns (done whole) have a rich flavor.  Just cutting in 1/4 acorn flour in a regular recipe for breads, rolls, etc. with regular white or GF flour will impart that wonderful acorn flavor quite well.

You can also easily toast your dried acorn flour or grits (small chopped acorn pieces to use in soups, veggie patties, pastas, etc.) to give them a richer flavor before you use it in a recipe, the same as you would any seeds or nuts.  

If you smell roasted acorn flour you'll be able to tell why people have used it for so long as a coffee substitute, too.  It's not the same taste or smell but a similar, rich, wonderful one.  Acorn tea is also delicious.  I use roasted acorns for acorn extract and things like maple acorn coffee creamer too, to use that fabulous, rich flavor.  At some point I would like to experiment with making a non-dairy acorn nut cheese, since cashew cheeses are supposedly very tasty and I think acorns could be really good that way.  

I have a friend who brought me bags and bags of extra acorns this fall because I went through all of ours trying recipes for the cookbook and needed still more.  Her in-laws live on land that was still blanketed with acorns so every weekend that she went with her husband to see his family she would go out with a glass of wine and gather me more acorns.  I need a pick-up truck for all the cooking I have done with them this fall and all that I still want to do!  With 5 kids and my oldest daughter's fiance usually here to cook for, I go through a lot!  They are just so versatile though and I keep coming up with new ways to use them.

Here's a picture showing the difference in color for roasted acorn flour and dried (low heat) acorn flour -- both were hot water leached whole and then ground after they were roasted or dried.  While the roasted has a darker color and flavor, both of them are very flavorful.  HTH!
acornflourCollage.jpg
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Alicia Bayer
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I promised to post when the acorn foraging book was available and it's on Kindle now!  The paperback won't be ready for a couple of weeks, as it needs a totally different system of formatting and photographs.  I'll post when that's up too, since I know a lot of people prefer paperbacks.

If you want to look at the acorn book, you can use the "look inside" feature on Amazon and read the first chapters and see the table of contents.  There ended up being over 90 recipes.  Thank goodness we had a friend who kept delivering more and more extra bags of acorns for me to try out recipes.  I was so appreciative of her that I dedicated the book to her.  :)

Here's the book:  
Acorn Foraging: Everything You Need to Know to Harvest One of Autumn’s Best Wild Edible Foods, with Recipes, Photographs and Step-By-Step Instructions (affiliate link)

It includes lots of color photos, nutritional information on acorns, step-by-step instructions for cold water processing and hot water processing, the history of acorn foraging around the world and more.  It ended up being over 200 pages because there was so much I wanted to include.  As you know, we love acorns, and I really wanted to help everybody else fall in love with them too.  :)




acornforagingcover.jpg
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Alicia, I've done a book summary at this link for your book Acorn Foraging
Please let me know if there's anything that needs changing or suggestions for additions.  
 
Alicia Bayer
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Judith Browning wrote:Alicia, I've done a book summary at this link for your book Acorn Foraging
Please let me know if there's anything that needs changing or suggestions for additions.  



Oh how sweet of you!  Thank you!  

You could add my author page if you like.  http://magicalchildhood.com/author/wp/
My author page on Amazon also shows my other two books (elderberry foraging and a nature study book for children).  https://www.amazon.com/Alicia-Bayer/e/B06X99S6TQ/

I also run a number of Facebook pages on natural living, eating organic food on a budget, homeschooling and more (there's also a homeschooling site and a family one, among others).  I tend to be prolific online!  :)  I think all those might be overkill though!  LOL

Thank you again!
 
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Alicia Bayer wrote:

Judith Browning wrote:Alicia, I've done a book summary at this link for your book Acorn Foraging
Please let me know if there's anything that needs changing or suggestions for additions.  



Oh how sweet of you!  Thank you!  

You could add my author page if you like.  http://magicalchildhood.com/author/wp/
My author page on Amazon also shows my other two books (elderberry foraging and a nature study book for children).  https://www.amazon.com/Alicia-Bayer/e/B06X99S6TQ/

I also run a number of Facebook pages on natural living, eating organic food on a budget, homeschooling and more (there's also a homeschooling site and a family one, among others).  I tend to be prolific online!    I think all those might be overkill though!  LOL

Thank you again!



The more info the better...I think I've linked to 'magical childhood' there under 'related websites...see if I got it right.
I'll add the other two books or maybe do separate threads for each one?
Do you have any youtube videos that we could post there?
 
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A davebuilt nutcracker works excellent on acorn's I can go through a 5 gallon pail in 5_10 minutes.
 
Alicia Bayer
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james neevel wrote:A davebuilt nutcracker works excellent on acorn's I can go through a 5 gallon pail in 5_10 minutes.



I've heard that a lot.  I've looked into them but they're pretty spendy.  For now, between myself, hubby and my little helpers, I just stick to manual labor.    And honestly, I find acorn processing so much quicker and easier than walnuts so I don't mind the work.  If I had some kind of acorn flour business or something then I'm sure it would be worth it though!  Or fewer helpers...  
acornprocessing.jpg
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Alicia Bayer
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Just wanted to let folks know that the print version of my acorn book is finally available here:  Acorn Foraging: Everything You Need to Know to Harvest One of Autumn’s Best Wild Edible Foods, with Recipes, Photographs and Step-By-Step Instructions.  It's not linked to the Kindle version yet, so if you want to read reviews or look inside (the content is the same but in a different format in the paperback) you can see that information at the Kindle page here (aff links).  

The book goes into the history of acorns as food sources around the world, nutritional aspects, how to process them a number of ways and then has an extensive recipe section with basics, breads, savory dishes, sides and desserts.  I also noted which recipes were naturally gluten free or vegan, or had been tested with those variations.  The vast majority of the recipes are gluten free and a great many of them are vegan.

Thanks for everybody's interest and patience! I really appreciate it. Now I'm off to make some acorn meatballs for church tomorrow.  :)
 
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Wow, this article suggests if you just eat the base of the acorn and not the tip you can get lower tannins.

https://www.jstor.org/stable/2426123?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
Screen-Shot-2018-10-04-at-1.11.43-AM.png
[Thumbnail for Screen-Shot-2018-10-04-at-1.11.43-AM.png]
abstract of acorn article
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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and this
“Germination caused a decrease in the protein, carbohydrate and starch; it increased sugar content, and had varied effects on the lipids contents of the dry samples. The anti-nutritional factor-tannin concentration was decreased.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1546053

(from website "making our sustainable life")
 
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I live in England where the oaks are beautiful but only really produce famine food or coffee substitute from what I be heard from others. If doing my masters degree so we are living in town but have an allotment on a certified vegan organic site so we are growing trees now for moving onto our land in a few years when I'm done with school.
My plan is to select the biggest fallen acorns I can find.. Experiment to see if I can remove English Oak tannins enough to eat and if its worth the effort as our acorns are small. If I can make them edible I'm planting the bigest ones I can find and hoping that in decades to come that this pays off.
If I follow the article above am I eating the cap end or the bare end of the acorn to avoid most tannins?
 
Alicia Bayer
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Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:Wow, this article suggests if you just eat the base of the acorn and not the tip you can get lower tannins.

https://www.jstor.org/stable/2426123?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents



I have a lot of acorns in my kitchen to process today, as I'm giving an acorn presentation at a library in the morning and plan to bring an assortment of samples of baked goods.  I'll nibble the top and bottom ends of one of the unprocessed ones when I go downstairs in the name of science and report back.  ;)
 
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Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:and this
“Germination caused a decrease in the protein, carbohydrate and starch; it increased sugar content, and had varied effects on the lipids contents of the dry samples. The anti-nutritional factor-tannin concentration was decreased.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1546053

(from website "making our sustainable life")



Yep, some foragers purposely forage acorns in the spring and gather the germinated ones for that reason and also because any that are sprouted are automatically not buggy so you don't have to worry about sorting out the buggy ones.  Sprouted acorns are sweeter and more nutritious, just the way anything sprouted is (grains, beans, etc.).  I talk about that a little bit in my acorn foraging book, but the down side is that there are far fewer to find in general if you're only collecting sprouted ones.  You could also try to sprout your acorns and then process them, but I find it easier to just process out the tannins -- especially as we tend to do a lot of acorns.
 
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When I was on a survival trip with BOSS (The Boulder Outdoor Survival School) in Utah, we gathered acorns and processed them.  I'm not sure of the species.  They were small trees (15 to twenty feet) that were commonly known, I believe, as scrub oak.

We cracked, shelled, and then crushed the acorns using stones, and then washed the mash via putting it in a handkerchief and putting it in the creek.  This was greatly enhanced by pulling the hanky out, and squeezing the water from it, repeatedly.  Most people on the course were lazy about this particular task and complained that the acorn flour was too bitter or too much work to process.  I found mine bitter, at first, but just kept on going until it wasn't.  I was more tenacious about squeezing it out and doing repeated soakings and in the end, I ended up with no bitterness at all.  Afterward, I dried it all out on a rock in the sun and then mixed dried rose hip, other berries called wolf berries, and various seeds to make a sort of trail mix for myself.  We had some sunflower seeds as part of our meager rations.

Every time I found more berries or edible seeds, they were added to my handkerchief bundle.  It was dry enough out in the Utah summer sun that the mash stayed dry and was able to dry out/preserve the extra stuff.  

It was a great treat on the trail.        
 
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Yum!!!  I did a hack--ate the sprouted ones, to get a taste of what it can be a few weeksfrom now.  Cause I'm all about instant gratification.  Soooooo tasty, coffee-ice-creamy, maple-syrupy, crunchy (unlike the raw ones).  Definitely motivating.

Squirrels have it right.

Cats, on the other hand, just seem to roll the nut around on the floor for hours.  Hours.
 
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Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:Wow, this article suggests if you just eat the base of the acorn and not the tip you can get lower tannins.

https://www.jstor.org/stable/2426123?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents



Okay, I tried it the other night and nibbled the top and bottom end.  Didn't notice a difference.  I'd still just process out the tannins and use the whole thing.  :)
 
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Wow, well that sounds sensible.  I have squirreled mine away in several different spots and we'll see how they come out.  The pre-sprouted ones were ta-asty, I find the instant gratification helpful in keeping my motivation up to continue forging--and foraging--ahead.  It builds my trust in the new idea, it is a physical, embodied way of knowing.
And I look forward to seeing what they taste like in a week.

I am curious if you've tried the lye-based way of treating tanins? saw that mentioned in some article, but they didn't go into detail.


Alicia Bayer wrote:

Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:Wow, this article suggests if you just eat the base of the acorn and not the tip you can get lower tannins.

https://www.jstor.org/stable/2426123?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents



Okay, I tried it the other night and nibbled the top and bottom end.  Didn't notice a difference.  I'd still just process out the tannins and use the whole thing.  :)

 
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Tannins are present, not in large amounts in legumes. They are a group of polyphenols that binds with proteins thereby lowering their digestibility. Tannins content decrease significantly and to undetectable levels within 60 hours of sprouting.

from http://www.dietobio.com/dossiers/en/sprouts/effects.html    [NOTE--this is about legumes, not acorns, I'm just assuming that the same principle probably applies to acorns]

This accords with my experience of eating the sprouted acorn today, and the squirrels' wisdom, since the flavor was far less bitter and the whole thing much more palatable..  But the American Indians, I gather, buried them for a year in a stream bed or used lye.  

 
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