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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At September 10, 2010 at 8:58 PM , Blogger Coleus said...

Thanks for the post. Do you have a book you'd suggest on the subject?

Oh, and I was re-reading your Machete post the other day. Have you seen the new Rodriguez film by the same name? It's tongue-in-cheek gorey scholck in true 70s style, but it has a lot of poignant things to say about the current cultural situation near the US/Mexico border. Plus it's damn funny.

At September 11, 2010 at 3:50 PM , Blogger 29,000 Acorns said...

I haven't seen that yet, but I heard from a few friends about it. Plus, Glenn Beck freaked out because he thought it was some rallying cry for a Mexican revolt or something. He is such a racist lunatic. :P

At September 17, 2010 at 7:43 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I highly recommend Sam Thayer's chapter on acorns in his new book titled "Nature's Garden". He has nearly 50 pages on the topic, which makes it the most in depth treatment of acorn processing that I've ever seen. Also, he has lots of personal experience, so he is writing original content, not recycling old accounts. Happy Foraging!

At September 17, 2010 at 7:56 PM , Blogger 29,000 Acorns said...

That sounds like a great resource! Thanks! I'm always glad to get experienced accounts, especially considering that I've only been processing acorns for a few years myself.

At September 21, 2010 at 9:01 PM , Blogger Ben McInnis said...

Great post & great discussion at Ohm last night; it was an honor to meet you, Daniel. Now, I am curious, how long does one generally "leach" acorns? I knew you could eat them, but the preparation of them was something I was never clear on. Also, does the leaching take the bitterness out of them & do you shell them first or leave them in the shell?

At October 6, 2010 at 5:10 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Acorn : THE book ! : "IT WILL LIVE FOR EVER" Berverly R. Ortiz, Julia F.Parker

At October 26, 2010 at 3:51 PM , Blogger abelhas said...

we are planting holm oak - as they have few tannins.
but probably for future generations :)
we made acorn bread last winter - was good.

At July 9, 2011 at 7:31 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

sam thayer's books are great for this stuff, he doesn't do just the easy foraging but the involved stuff too! what the acorns remind me of is that this work was not done by individuals but by communities working together. what looks overwhelming for one person with a day job is two fun weekends for a group of friends. in the pacific northwest are programs reteaching indians (i say indian because all the "native americans" i know say indian) there how to live the old ways, to get their diet healthier and relearn the culture, and it looks awesome - in hawai'i the same work is being done with the sacred taro plant. heather awen


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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.