I don’t know where my last experiment with acorns went awry, but I am determined to find a way to use the acorns that litter the ground on our future homestead for food! Acorns, as you know, are a type of nut from the oak tree, and probably one-third of the trees on our five acres are oaks. Still not sure what type of oak trees we have, but they produce the most bitter, foul tasting, wash your mouth out with hot sauce, nasty tasting nuts that I have ever tried!
The taste problem is with the tannins, naturally found in acorns. Some people can tolerate a bit more tannin than I can. That’s why I generally don’t like red wine – because of the tannin! It leaves my tongue feeling all shriveled up and furry. Ick.
So, my task is to find the best way to leach the tannins out of the acorns. The first experiment was using a boiling water method. You can read about that method HERE. This time I thought I would try the “refrigerator” method. Although it takes longer, it sounded much gentler on the acorn and without cooking the nut, it seems like it would result in a more nutritious flour – right? I’m going to go with that theory.
So, here’s what I did: gathered acorns, cracked them open and removed the nut meats. Then I chopped them up fairly well, place them in a mason jar with clean water and then set the jar in refrigerator.
Okay. That sounded easy enough. Done!
Then every day (twice a day if you can handle it) the water needs to be drained out of the jar without losing any of the nut meats, and fresh water added back in. Put the lid back on, shake, and then put back in the refrigerator. How many days it takes to leach out enough tannin to make the acorn meats tolerable depends on the amount of tannin in your acorns. Generally, it takes four to ten days. After day four, taste the acorn meats. If they are bland and have generally no flavor – good! You are done! If, however, you can taste the tannin, then pour out the water, shake, and put back in the fridge. After the sixth day I put the whole mess into the blender and gave it a few pulses, just to break up the bigger pieces and help with the leaching process. I let mine go for the full ten days. Yup – my acorns have lots of tannin, folks.
When I couldn’t taste the tannin anymore, I drained the acorn meal through a few thicknesses of cheesecloth in a colander, rinsed the meal one more time with my sprayer in the sink, let it drain again, and then poured the whole mess onto a cookie sheet. The cookie sheet then went into a warm oven to dry the acorn meal. Don’t let the oven get too hot – just let it start to heat up, then as it gets warm, turn it off and let the almond meal sit in the oven with the door just slightly cracked open. You can also use a dehydrator.
Once the meal is pretty dry, it’s time to make acorn flour! I put about 1/2 cup of the meal into my coffee grinder at a time, pulsed it a few times until it looked like a coarse flour, dumped it into a bowl, then repeated. It took a few minutes to grind the meal into flour and I finally ended up with about 3 cups of the flour.
So, for my first experiment cooking with the flour, I thought I would go simple and some acorn noodles. Acorn noodles are very popular in Korea and are called dotori gooksoo. I followed one of the only recipes I could find which said to mix 1/3 acorn flour to 2/3 whole wheat flour with salt and water until a soft pastry consistency. Knead for about 10 minutes then let the dough rest. Once the dough had rested for about 1/2 hour, I pushed the dough through the hopper of my handy, dandy Kitchenaid with the noodle maker attachment, and out squiggled some noodles! I got of pot of water to a simmer and added the noodles. I thought I would just end up with mush, but I didn’t! The noodles actually stayed in the noodle shape even after boiling for about 4 minutes! Cool!
Now came the taste test. Hmmm. Well, they tasted very rustic – like whole wheat flour noodles. Kind of bland but also kind of earthy. But once they had cooled just a bit on the plate they became more of a mass of squiggly mush, sticking together and becoming more of a clump than noodles. I figured these these would be really good in a rustic beef broth soup with vegetables, but it would definitely have to stay in the cooking liquid. This was not spaghetti and meatballs material.
Then I thought, “what if I didn’t have wheat flour”? These noodles are 2/3 wheat flour and there may come a time when wheat is a very expensive commodity! Could I make egg noodles with just the acorn flour and no wheat flour? Besides, if I am to become as self sufficient as comfortable (not gonna sacrifice comfort in my retirement, folks!), and since we don’t have a wheat field around the corner, I need to figure out how to make noodles without any wheat! I decided to try that next.
I knew that I would need something to bind the acorn flour together and the first thing I thought of was eggs. So, after reading several egg noodle recipes, I discovered that the standard is 3/4 cups of flour per 1 egg. Also a little salt and oil. So, this is what I mixed: 1-1/2 cups of acorn flour, 2 eggs, 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil. I mixed it all up pretty good, rolled it into a ball and let it set under a wet kitchen towel for about 1/2 hour – just to make sure the flour was well moistened. After I felt 1/2 hour was long enough, I put the glob down into the hopper of my kitchenaid pasta maker and turned it on. Well. Hmmm. It came through the noodle maker thingy okay, but as each strand got an inch or two long, it broke! When I tried to pick up a noodle, it just fell apart in my hands. Okay – so that didn’t work. I think it’s the lack of gluten (wheat glue) that made the noodles more crumbly than noodley (I think that’s a word – isn’t it?)
How about fettuccini? Most of the wheat flour egg noodles are supposed to be rolled thin and then cut into strips! I got out some parchment paper, rolled the blob of failed spaghetti into a ball and flattened it, put another piece of parchment paper on top, and rolled it out pretty thin. Then I cut it into strips. It looked pretty good and I thought it would work, but…. well……. No. After I let it dry just a bit, I tried picking it up and it just fell apart again! Heavens to Betsy.
I decided to think about it for a while. Hmmmmmmmmm.
Potatoes! Don’t Germans make noodles out of potatoes? Yes! The noodles are called badische schupfnudeln. Try saying that three times! It uses eggs and potatoes with a little bit of flour – so all was not lost – yet. I boiled a medium sized yukon gold potato until tender, drained it, mashed it, and when cooled a bit I added it to the acorn mixture. I wasn’t worried about having an overworked mess at this point because – remember – there isn’t any gluten in it. So I made sure the potatoes and acorn mixture were incorporated together really well. Then I tried it again. Well. Nope. It STILL fell apart!
The strands coming out of the pasta attachment looked okay, but when I tried to pick up a noodle off the plate, it just pretty much fell apart!
Why! Shouldn’t the egg make it stick together? Oh, wait – not until it’s cooked! Hey, what if I made it like spaetzle (another type of German noodle), where you drop the noodles right into the boiling pot of water as they are being made??!! That might work!
So I tried it. Well , it did sort of work – kinda. The noodles still fell apart as they went into the pot, but once in the boiling water they pretty much stayed in a noodle shape. The longer noodles were about 2 inches long. How did it taste? Let’s just say that with a heavily flavored sauce these would be good. They are pretty bland.
By this time I was out of acorn flour. I have more leaching in the fridge, but I will have to think this process over a bit more before I try making noodles again. Perhaps my next experiment should be with baking the acorn flour – maybe muffins or a cake. I have experimented a bit with almond flour and made a delicious cake with the almond meal that was left over from making almond milk – which in turn was made into almond milk ice cream! I think I will try modifying one of the almond flour recipes by using acorn flour instead of almond flour. I will probably need to add a bit more spice, as the almond flour is naturally aromatic and the acorn flour is not.
If any of you have any ideas or suggestions, please share them! Just click on the bubble thingy next to the title of this article up top, or down below where it says “replies”, and let me know what you think! Thank you so much!
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