[NAFEX] Edible Acorns

h black hblack1925 at fastmail.fm
Fri Sep 14 11:39:58 EDT 2007

I agree with Donna.  Shelling acorns and chestnuts take about equal time 
(although you do get more from chestnuts because of greater size).  The 
flavor is wonderful.  We've used the acorn flour (once leached, the ground 
nuts are dried on our wood stove) in bread, pancakes and to thicken soup. 
If you don't reconsititute them with water the crunch in pancakes is great.
  These are white oak acorns.  Q, acutissima.  very productive annually 
except this year due to the spring hard frost.  Hector Black zone 6 middle 
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Donna &/or Kieran" <holycow at cookeville.com>
To: "North American Fruit Explorers" <nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Friday, September 14, 2007 9:40 AM
Subject: Re: [NAFEX] Edible Acorns

> RE comments from Michael:
> "even after you go through all of the work
> you have to do to make an acorn edible, the chestnut
> still tastes much better."
> Well now, I'm not so sure about that.  I don't really find that large 
> acorns
> are more work to shell than chestnuts, and my blender never once 
> complained
> about the effort of grinding acorns.  Leaching by simply pouring off the
> water and adding more, followed by a few seconds more zapping, was also
> easy.  As for taste... I find chestnuts are a real treat roasted and eaten
> on their own, but when added to anything else I think they are 
> unbelievably
> bland.  After the meal I say, "There were chestnuts in that, could you 
> taste
> them?"  And no, my husband couldn't taste them either.  Sure you can add
> them to bread, but it will just taste like bread.  Add them to soup, and
> ho-hum.  Add leached acorns to bread and it's an amazing treat.  You'll be
> able to smell and taste nuts, but will be totally unable to put your 
> finger
> on exactly what kind of nut it was.
> Re my son's comments, I apologize, he didn't realize that I was referring 
> to
> the difficulty of removing OIL SOLUBLE tannins from the black oak group. 
> I
> will see if I can put him onto it.  The link he sent was interesting, but
> involved a lot of pouring water involving basketry which is both 
> unnecessary
> and unavailable to most of us.   I have ground acorns in a Corona mill by
> hand and that also worked fine, though the larger particles required a bit
> more soaking.
>    I think a good reason for some of the older methods had to do with the
> nature of white oak family acorns.  One good year I had the kids pick up
> some 20 lbs of them, and within a couple of weeks they'd sprouted in the
> bag.  The white oak family behaves like this, and I have read that the
> acorns become very bitter once they sprout.  This is a bit of a delimma, 
> and
> as mentioned in the article my son offered, you absolutely cannnot leach
> acorns after they are cooked or even heated very much.  (I found this out
> after attempting to dry some out too much to sprout, the sun came out so
> bright that day that the acorns nearly cooked in the bed of the truck, and
> after that they were useless. )  However, if a bag of them were hung in a
> running stream, their oxygen intake and thus metabolism would be severely
> reduced, while the running water would not promote fermentation the way
> hanging them in a bucket would do.  I expect they could be kept for weeks 
> or
> even months this way, and would be largely leached of tannins eventually, 
> so
> they might even be cooked whole or in halves in a stew.
>    I have looked more carefully at the articles in the link and looked up
> the California Black oak, Q. kelloggi, and it is indeed a member of the
> black oaks, with bristle tips on the leaves and acorns that don't sprout
> till spring.   I read that they don't begin cropping till 80-100 years 
> old,
> and most of the cropping trees to be found nowadays have sprouted from
> stumps.  One comment was if you are looking at a big tree near a stream,
> look around for mortar holes in the granite bedrock, where Indians had
> ground acorns in years past.  It also said that tribes on the west coast
> still gathered and ate acorns.
>    I have read that the black oaks were preferred because the oils they
> contain have more calories and more flavor than the largely starch based
> white oaks.  It strikes me as peculiar that the article my son sent
> describes nothing more than grinding and pouring water through the meal.
> Maybe California black oaks have mostly water soluble tannins after all?
> Maybe we are too worried about the difficulty of leaching our eastern 
> black
> oak acorns?  I've read that white people in the east boiled black oak 
> acorns
> to get the oil out of them for making liniment.  Seems that if they knew 
> how
> to make them edible, they would have.  On the other hand, the whites never
> seemed to have used much Apios and I've read they passed over the flour 
> type
> corns that some Indians grew for flints and dents.        Donna  ed them
> into meal in mortars they had worn into granite bedrock.  This meal was 
> then
> leached with water in order to remove bitter tannic acid then it was 
> cooked
> and eaten as soup, mush, bread, or patties.  Today, acorns are still
> gathered by people of many different tribes in California and southern
> Oregon.
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