Friday, September 16, 2011

acorn gathering


You know fall is near when the acorns start dropping.  Trips to the clothesline are fraught with danger of being beaned by oak-powered projectiles.  Though this may be the land of Poplar and Pine, Oaks are just as prevalent in my yard.


I've noticed that while the red oaks started dropping acorns a few weeks ago, the white oaks, especially the Bur Oaks, dropped them en masse a few days ago.  I've been wanting to try my hand at acorn processing ever since I saw the beautiful pastas, breads, and even "coffee" on Hank Shaw's site (do a search for acorns once there, you'll be in awe).  I grabbed my gathering basket, a couple of my grubby-handed kids, and started scooping the acorns in.  They easily fell out of their caps and I found out later, were nearly bug-free, unlike their red oak cousins.


The process of removing the nut meats from the acorn shell is a tedious one.  It helps to enlist some helpers for this step too.



Whack the acorn, remove the meat, drop meat in a pot of water, repeat.

After we had de-shelled our entire batch of acorns, I needed to leach the tannins out.  The tannin in the acorn is what gives them their bitter taste.  Even before leaching, these acorns were pretty mild so I didn't have to do much soaking, three changes of water was all it took.  When the soaking water remained clear I put the drained acorns in my dehydrator to dry so I could later grind them into flour.  (see Hank Shaw's post for processing tips)


With the sudden cold snap it seemed like soup weather so I decided that acorn bread would be on the menu.  I used Amber Dusick's recipe and it turned out fantastically.  It was hearty and slightly sweet, so good slathered with butter and served with my roasted squash soup.  We enjoyed it so much I headed right back out and gathered more acorns.  I'm dying to try that coffee recipe...


Tomorrow I'll show you what I did with these.


How about you?  Have you ever eaten acorns?  What did you think?


22 comments:

Jovita said...

lisa you continue to amaze and inspire me .. you can eat acorns!!?? I never knew, but i'm "nuts" about them .. i love collecting them .. will have to try your bread, and thanks for all the links they lead to even more ideas.

Cozy Memories said...

no.way.
you are so ressourceful, girl !
I need to show that to my guys, I bet they'll be amazed as well ! We never ate anything made with acorns !
Can't wait to show what you made with the shells ! (dyeing ?)
oxox

Patricia said...

Lisa, your acorn adventure is beautifully told, and what a result! I am so impressed and learned so much. I have a laborer who I might enlist to help me with acorn harvesting and processing (he's already started with the harvesting). I wonder if the acorn bread could be made entirely gluten-free?

Lisa at lil fish studios said...

Jovita - I remember eating one as a kid and spitting it out because it was so bitter. I never thought about trying them again until I read Hank's blog. I'm so glad I tried them again! They have a slight caramel flavor to them once they're boiled. Really nice.

Sonia - our red oak acorns are really wormy but these white oak acorns were beautifully bug-free. I wish I could send you all some to try!

Pat - I don't know, but definitely worth exploring. The bread recipe I used calls for more white flour than acorn flour but I wonder if Hank's blog doesn't have a gluten-free recipe on it. I bet you could make some sort of cookie with it, like they do with ground almonds?

Bonkers About Buttons said...

blimey! talk about upping the ante! I'm feeling really inadequate now - you are so incredibly resourceful. - I've always loved acorns, and what first drew me to your blog was your beautiful felted acorns. I had no idea you could cook with them - you have inspired me to get into my locals woods straight after school pickup today!

NillaK said...

I actually knew one could eat them, my husband took a course in survival in nature, but I heard they were bitter. Maybe I should go out and see how my acorns are.

HA! Designs said...

COFFEE too!?!??? hmmmmm...I'm skeptical...I'll wait for your report...

delinqious said...

Interesting!
I'm waiting to go gather some acorns so I can try the Acorn Mushroom Tutorial :D

ecokaren said...

Love acorns jello! Can't tell you the recipe though. It's a family secret.

On a totally unrelated note, it must have been 31 degrees up there since your boys are fully dressed......in Hawaiian shirts, no less. :)

(You know how I notice the weirdest things on your posts.....and not just your beautiful photos and delicious recipes.)

Glo said...

In my homeland, the best ham comes from acorn-fed pigs:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jam%C3%B3n_ib%C3%A9rico

So I could say that I have eaten a lot of acorns, only they were previously processed by my favorite animal :-)

k said...

Very interesting - as usual! We don't have a lot of oak trees around here, but there are some Garry Oaks to be found, and I actually gathered some of their acorns the other day with no plan other than I like them for autumn decoration. Thinking I might have to gather some more and try eating...and I'm suspecting you might have soaked those shells for some dyeing? that is what I would do!

curlygirlpress said...

I love to collect acorns but for some reason I thought they were poisonous... no more! Looks like my collecting can go to good use. Thanks!

Tara said...

You are a foraging genius, Lisa. The bread looks delicious!

CurlyMonkeyMama said...

I have never eaten acorns! Now I would love to try!

Fée des bois said...

You always make so beautiful pictures. I'm very impress each time. This cake seems very delicious.

Thank's for sharing!

trish said...

oh my goodness - i thought only squirrels eat acorns! yet another new thing i learned from your blog - thank you!

Elizabeth said...

This is a very interesting post. I never really thought about acorns as food but why not? I love all other nuts.

thewillowsnest said...

yay acorn bread! nope.. never knew.. waste not ..want not.. you lot could survive unplugged in the forest forever!!!

Tumus said...

I've now added Acorns along with the dandelions to try on my foraging list.

Scrapiana said...

You've done it again, Lisa! What an astounding revelation that you can actually EAT ACORNS, just like our bushy-tailed friends. Thank you for this delightful discovery.

Anonymous said...

Came over here from the Room on the left. I've eaten a lot of wild stuff, but never acorns. Always thought it was only pigs that did that, but now I will have to try! So glad your prize-give-away went to the Room on the Left. It turned up on the right day as though it was meant to be. Mia Self.

Betty said...

I never knew you could make a flour from acorns although I know you can use them to make a kind of coffee. I found very few in my part of the world this year though usually they are abundant, so maybe next year will get a chance to make acorn bread. You always inspire me to get out there in the woods and forage! thankyou.

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