[NAFEX] Leaching acorns, a little late...

redherring at tnaccess.com redherring at tnaccess.com
Sat Nov 16 11:34:33 EST 2002

Hey guys, our schedule has been all screwed up so I never get time on the
computer anymore, or I'd have come up with a quick response to the
discussion on acorns.  The most time consuming part is cracking and shelling
them.  I have done it with vice grips, from end to end, not sideways.  I
have laid them on a flat surface and crunched them with a brick, because I'm
curious as to how it was done efficiently in the old days.  What I have
found is that the acorns need to be dry to slip out of the shells easily,
and that is what makes all the difference in easy shelling, whatever method
you use for cracking them.  With our horrible wet autumn, I have simply
found them to be too much trouble to deal with, though I did put a few in
the food dryer in hopes of getting to them later. I don't mean dried out,
just nicely dry.  If you have ever picked up pecans, esp in a damp autumn,
you know that fresh pecans are generally hard to shell, and improve in
shelling and flavor if they dry out a bit.  Acorns are the same.  DO NOT try
heating acorns while still in their shells, seems to bake in the the
    Once they are shelled, I put them in a blender with water, and then
gently pour the water off the slurry and add more water, run a few seconds
more.  Or I grind them into a bowl, add water, stir, pour off the discolored
water, and wash them several times.  When the water no longer turns white,
the tannin is gone. I once made the mistake of trying to pur the slurry
through a sieve, lost nearly all the acorn meal that way.  The finer you
grind it the better anyway, for leaching purposes.  I generally used the
slurry as the basis to make a loaf of whole wheat bread.  It tastes
absolutely wonderful, though I would be hard pressed to name a nut it
resembles.  I am sure it could be used for many other purposes, soups, with
cornmeal in mush or spoonbread, or even in cornbread.
    I have been so pleased to see the references to the Ashworth bur oak.
Lucky has sent me several vars of bur oak scions the last 2 years, and I
have grafted them onto bur oaks and white oaks, about chest level on trees
an inch or two in diameter at that height.  I have actually had very few
graft failures, they are the easiest things I have ever tried.  I use a bark
graft.  They have grown very nicely.  We are just off the edge of the bur
oak range, I saw a seedling in front of a house in Nashville, about 70 miles
from our place.  I can vouch for the size of some bur oak acorns too, Lucky
has sent me some the size of English walnuts.  We've had quite an
interesting discussion about bur oaks as western trees, where the fat
slowmoving fox squirrel is the main squirrel, and how the stiff stubby
branches of the bur oak and the large acorns seem perfectly adapted to suit
fox squirrels.
    If you all will remember my easy technique for leaching acorns, maybe
next year you can try them. I've done white oak and chestnut oaks, though
the chestnut oaks are harder to shell.  I just wish I could figure out how
to use red oak acorns, as under their bitterness, they taste very much like
butter.  I know I could just cook them up with clay, which would bind the
tannins, but am not sure I'd like the results.   Donna

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