A mature oak can produce twenty-nine thousand acorns a year. Each has the chance to sustain our people, heal the world some, and spread where it can.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Acorn Processing

I was asked on my Facebook recently if I had something about how to process acorns on this blog, and realized I hadn't. Seems like a kind of important post to have, considering the name of the blog and its meaning. Different people have slightly different ways to process them, dependent on the tools used, environmental conditions, and of course the types of acorns. So I'll post a method here.

What I've done in the past is to roast the freshly gathered acorns in the oven for a bit to kill off any moth eggs in the shells before they hatch, since they'd then start consuming the nutmeats. This doesn't actually make the nutmeats inedible, it's just kind of gross. The larvae are probably even healthier than the acorns themselves, rich in protein and fat. Roast at around 300 degrees, or put on low broil away from the flame, until they're golden brown. Roast them for a bit, and if you're going to store them at this stage or are using a hand cranked nutcracker like I have, dehydrate them fully. This can be done by leaving them in the oven on bake for a long time, or by putting them in a sunny place. I'm building a solar dehydrator right now for this. If you leave them in the sun on a tarp, you risk squirrels coming in to steal them. This is a good way to lure squirrels, so I say just sit around with a .22, or perhaps set some traps around. I think I might try this sometime, if I can find a sunny spot I feel safe firing a .22.

Before I got the nut cracker, which I haven't even used much yet by the way, I would crack them using pliers. After a while this hurts my hands, and gets really boring without other people.

When they're cracked they need leaching, which in the past I've done by boiling in many changes of water, but this year I'm going to try leaving them in a bag in a river. Most sources say a day, some say up to a week. I'm going to try a couple days, particularly since I've been gathering mostly black oak acorns, which have more tannins. Some people say to grind them before leaching, which I've never done, but it supposedly makes it go faster. Because I'm using a mesh laundry bag, I think I'll leave them in halves.

After they've leached to the point that they taste good, dehydrate them. They're now ready for eating! You can grind them into meal or flour, or just leave them in halves or wholes for whatever recipes you can think of.

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Twenty-Nine Thousand Acorns by Daniel Q is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Photoshop Tree Brushes created by Obsidian Dawn. Photoshop custom dandelion shape created by MyMimi. "Broken Acorns" photograph in banner taken by modcam. Layout by Kris.