Eating Acorns, Round 2

Cooking with acorn flour

It is a very good year for an acorn crop. Even the squirrels can’t keep up!

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.

cooking with acorns

Blended acorn meal. After it sits in the refrigerator for an hour or two, the acorn meal settles down to the bottom and there is a 2-3 inch layer of water on top.

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!

cooking with acorns

Dump the acorn meal into three thicknesses of cheesecloth in a colander. Rinse, rinse, rinse to get the last of the tannin out!

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.

cooking with acorns

Acorn meal drying on a cookie sheet.

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.

cooking with acorns

My first attempt – 1/3 acorn meal and 2/3 whole wheat flour. Tasted okay, but became a congealed blob when it got cold. Would be fine cooked in a beef broth.

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.

cooking with acorns

Acorn meal on the left and acorn flour on the right.

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.

cooking with acorns

Fettuccini strips. Uh……..no.

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.

cooking with acorns

The pasta maker was making pasta – the pasta just didn’t want to cooperate!

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!

UGH!

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!

cooking with acorns

It’s edible – but doesn’t it look like that dog food that you pour out of a foil pouch!!??

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.

spice cake made with almond flour

Spice cake made with almond flour and raisins! Mmmmmm good!

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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38 thoughts on “Eating Acorns, Round 2

  1. Vickie, I love your commitment to using the acorns! I know the feeling of trying to use something you have a ton of all too well. It’s so great that you’re willing to experiment and share your successes and failures. Both are helpful to others! Thanks!
    -Jon

    • Yes, I am committed to finding several ways to eat this free nutritional bounty that is all over my property! Thanks for the encouragement, Jon!

    • Thank you, Rachel! I just checked out his site and right there on the front page is a recipe for acorn shortbread cookies! Wow, I’m going to have to try those!

  2. Look up Italian chestnut flour recipes, similar nut with tannins that have to be leached and all, so whatever works for chestnuts will likely work for acorns.

    • Thanks! Do you have acorns where you live? From the research I did, oak trees (and thus acorns) live in just about every continent of the world! I can’t wait to look up some Italian chestnut flour recipes, as suggested by Jasmine in the comment above – it sounds like I might find a few more things to do with the acorns following some of those recipes!

  3. I appreciate how much time you have put into finding a way to use acorns but aren’t you forgetting the obvious, what about pigs? The Mediterranean pork that’s so tasty is from lots of foraging, especially on acorn. Maybe you don’t eat meat but my solution to using acorn is to turn them into bacon!

    • Oh yes! I have heard quite a few animals like to eat acorns – including black bears and pigs! Unfortunately, I don’t plan to raise any pigs soon, but I know many people count on the acorn fall every year to fatten up their pigs! Thanks for your thoughts, Emily!

  4. One of the very few disadvantages to living in our area of southern California is there are no oak trees — there are also very few maples. What an amazing adventure — I can’t wait to read about the shortbread cookies and whether they are more than just “edible”. Great post! Thanks for sharing! Just stopping by from the GRAND Social, hope you get a chance to do the same.

    • Thanks, Grandma KC! From the history that I have done, Southern California actually had quite a few oaks! Development and the loss of the black bear (a bear’s digestion of acorns actually helped germination!) has almost abolished oaks in your area. There are still some, but you would have to go out into the hills to find them! I will let you know how the cookies turn out. Still leaching my next batch of acorns – almost done!

    • Hahaha – Carol, I think we think alike! Now that I am experimenting with the acorns – and the stevia syrup – I am hoping to find a gluten free, sugar free, good tasting dessert! Thanks for stopping by, Carol, and for your thoughts!

  5. What a fun-sounding adventure. And what a grand job you are doing at research. I bet you’ll get enough material for an excellent book down the road. Thanks for a lovley visit from the Grand Social.

    • So far we haven’t poisoned ourselves! 🙂 But seriously, I am bound and determined to find several recipes that my hubby and I both like using acorns! They are a good source of proteins and minerals, and they are free! I am getting a lot of advise on how to prepare the acorns and also some recipes, but I was really hoping I could find a recipe for noodles using only the acorn flour and no wheat flour! And, since the acorns are free, it’s not like I’m throwing a lot of money down the drain to experiment! Thanks for stopping by. I will hop over to your site also!

  6. Oh, my goodness! I can’t believe all that you did. You have the character quality of patience and perseverance!
    Here in Hungary, where I am temporarily, they make a chestnut paste dessert. I wonder if it would be something you could do with acorns.
    I think they roast or boil the chestnuts (which probably don’t have the tannin bitterness) but in the end, they mix the paste with sugar and put it through a sieve. The result is a substance that looks like your last large picture. But they serve it immediately with whipped cream. I don’t like it, but it’s a favorite of the Hungarians.
    Just a thought. : )

    • Oh how lucky for you to live in Hungary, temporarily or not! I have never lived outside of California, and have rarely crossed the border, so I yearn to travel! I have heard that acorns and chestnuts can be used interchangeably, and am in the middle of looking into that! As we speak I have several jars of acorn nut meats leaching in my refrigerator and a couple of bags of acorns ready to crack open that I just collected last weekend! The more I read about acorns, the more I realize how nutritious they are and the wonderful history of eating acorns around the world! Wouldn’t it be fun to mix my yearning for travel with writing a book about the history of acorn usage in different cultures around the world! Alas, I can only dream at this point, but you never know! Thanks for stopping by, Gail. I will certainly look into Hungarian acorn cooking recipes!

    • I sure would like to know what that dessert is called! I can see how acorn flour and/or ground acorn can be used in quite a few recipes because, quite literally, it has no real flavor itself! It’s pretty bland – at least to me. Once you leach all the tannins out, that is! Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Hi! It was really fun to read about your experiments with acorn flour! I’ve made a coarse acorn meal that I used for biscuits, but have never tried to actually make flour. Thanks for sharing on the Natural Living Link-Up.

    • Thank you, Janet! I haven’t done much baking with acorn meal and/or flour yet. It takes 10 days to leach my acorns and another day or two for the meal to dehydrate. Right now I have several batches leaching in my refrigerator, so I will start experimenting with baking soon! I want to start out simple – so I believe I am going to start with shortbread cookies, as suggested by another blogger. Then I will branch out to cakes, breads and pastries!

    • I’m glad that you enjoyed the post! Sometimes I don’t have patience for things also, so I will just go on to something else, which is why I have so many things going at once! My husband thinks I don’t finish my projects, but I do! Just not in the timeframe that he wants me to finish! Hahaha! I already checked out your blog and I have to say I love it! It’s great that you link to other posts for more information. Can’t wait to try out that pecan pie without Karo syrup!

  8. Wow. I’m impressed with your dedication. I live in Dallas and our sidewalks are filled with huge acorns this year. I’ve often wondered why no one cooks with them. Now I know. Good luck – I hope you perfect your recipe:))

    • Yup – I’m dedicated on this one! There are so many cultures around the world that cook with acorns, I figured I might as well give it a try! My biggest problem at this point is finding some of those yummy Korean, Italian or German recipes! I don’t speak (or read) Korean or Italian, but I’m learning German! Sprechen Sie Deutsch? Thanks for stopping by, Tayla!

  9. You are so determined to make these acorns into something delicious. I admire your ‘never give up’ attitude! I would not have even thought that they would have been eatable. lol! Thanks for sharing with SYC.
    hugs,
    Jann

  10. We also have a lot of acorns, why did I never think of using them. I admire your determination, every time I thought you were done, nope you kept going. Thanks for sharing on Tuesdays With a Twist, join us again tomorrow morning, maybe with that cookie recipe/experience.

  11. I have sworn up and down that there HAD to be a way to use acorns for food since I was 8 years old. Truly! I love your post. Can’t wait for the next one to see how things turn out.

    • I’m so glad you like this! I never know if my readers are getting tired of my experiments with acorns or not, so I don’t put everything into my blog. Thank you for your vote of confidence, however, and I will post something new with acorns soon!

  12. Hi it’s 2017–February!! I was fooling around online and found your website! You are so awesome. Reminds me when I tried to do that back in 94 or so. 1894. Just kidding. 1994 I’m not THAT old. I put some links to your blog on my facebook (ren curtin if you look me up). If you DO look me up, friend me! 🙂 I just joined (I am 47, and if I had the money, I’d be homesteading. I lived on a homesteading commune in California (near where the Oroville dam action is happening actually, but in the northern mountains). No electricity, fresh goats milk, goaty cheese, woodstove cooker, cabins scattered around the woods and a main house for meals.

    Are you still doing your thing? I think your sense of humor is great and all of it. I am in New York now–about an hour from NYC in the Ramapo mountains

    • Hello, Ren – nice to meet you! Funny, you were stomping around my neck of the woods! We are in the mountains above Lake Oroville! Yup – still doing our thing, but working out a few kinks. In fact, I plan to post a blog either today or tomorrow to try to get back into it. Thanks for posting a link to my blog. Stick around – we have a lot of decisions to make and I am hoping my followers can help. Have a great day!

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