Breaking News: Acorns Wear Berets

I was gathering some acorns from the ground beneath a red oak at a local park in Portland the other day when a bunch of 5-year-olds wandered over and offered to help. It was like I had this army of elves helping out, and it was the cutest thing ever. This little girl said to me, “Do you want the ones with the hats?” Actually I’ve often considered how much acorns look like Frenchmen.

My plan is to de-shell them and then crush them up with big rocks and put them in a mesh bag and hang them in a friend’s stream for a few days to cold leach them (leaching means to remove the astringent and bitter flavor caused by the tanins). Then I’d like to dry them, turn them into powder using a Vitamix or other strong food processor, and use them in a recipe for ice cream. I got the idea from Steve Brill’s book, “The Wild Vegan Cookbook.” I’ll be reviewing it shortly.

Image by FinnPo

A FirstWays reader named FinnPo who lives in Eugene, Oregon, made a fantastic web site with everything you ever wanted to know about turning acorns into food! Click here to check out FinnPo’s outstanding site.

What foods will you make with acorns this autumn?

9 thoughts on “Breaking News: Acorns Wear Berets

  1. You’ve inspired me to try acorns again. I have tried a few times and never got past the bitter stage. So, now I’m out to gather acorns again. The squirrels have been stealing my beans right out of my garden, so it feels like revenge!

  2. I need to identify the oaks at a local park. They’re a pointed leaf variety, probably a red oak. I’ve never had the ambition to leach the acorns but I think I’d better give it a try.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

    • I did go collect some of those acorns from my local park. I identified the tree as a red oak.

      I dried them slightly in the dehydrator so that the shells would crack more easily. Then I shelled them. The nuts were quite astringent at first, nothing you’d want to eat straight from the tree.

      I wanted to eat these as nuts not as acorn flour so I just coarsely chopped them and put them in a pan of water cook out the tannins. I let them simmer for 30 minutes, then drained and tested them. They were still quite bitter and the water had turned very dark.

      I replaced the water and simmered them further, testing them and replacing the water every 30 minutes. After the 4th cooking they were beginning to be palatable. After the 6th cooking (3 hours total) the bitterness was gone and the kernels had a nice pleasantly nutty taste. The texture was slightly softer but they still had a nice bite to them. They were really quite good.

      I placed nuts pieces back in the dehydrator to remove some of the water and get the nuts ready for storage. They darkened some in drying and a little of the bitterness returned, but not enough to make them unpleasant at all. They also firmed up a bit in the dehydrator. For my taste they were best right after cooking. Perhaps steaming them would bring them back to that condition. A light coating of peanut oil and salt might be nice, too.

      I wish I had collected and processed a lot more of these. It will definitely be on my list of things to do next fall.

  3. This is the sweetest post. Out of the mouths of babes,,,,,,,,,,,and you ran with it. Such a delightful headline.thanks for the smiles.

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