Sunday, September 16, 2012

Acorn processing

It's acorn season and you should take advantage of it!  To most people acorns are a decoration or a nusance.  But these seeds have 500 calories a cup and they taste good too. 

Where to begin.  Find yourself an oak tree in the fall.  They all don't shed lots of acorns each year, some are on 2 or 3 year cycles.  So check the big oak you saw last year again. 
Here's a great place.  On dry gravel, where an oak is right over a roof.  They all fall in one place!

This tree was dropping big acorns right after a carnival ride left.  There was almost no grass and the acorns were sweet tasting, very little bitterness.

Here's a field that was right by a tree.  The acorns are easy to get to and there's lots of them.

I certainly am not inventing the wheel on eating acorns.  Here are a few sites you can look at that I found helpful.
   So I usually just pick up as many as I can and put in bags.  I have not tried those hamster roller harvesters, but I've read mixed reviews.
The baganut harvester looks cool but it's also 375 bucks.  I did see it advertised as a rental though.  So I'd ask your local retnal places.  Here you can watch one in action

   You cant just hold a big ol bag of acorns in your closet.  They will have some of those acorn weevil grubs in them and they will also get moldy.  They're also hard to shell wet.  You have a couple options
  • Air dry -- they need to be a single layer deep so mold is less likley.  You'll probably have to sweep grubs up or let chickens peck under there. 
  • Oven dry -- heat them up to 250 for 20 min.  I've also seen 175 for 20 min but havn't tried it.  (Will do next time to compare)
  • Sun dry -- Kind of inbetween the two in terms of time and results.  Acorns should be picked up every night and put somewhere too.
  • Dry by a hot fire with fire reflector or build some basket like shelves and use coals to heat and dry your acorns

I use the oven dry method because it stops grubs and gets done quickly.  I also reccomend a dehydrator to further dry them.  I've stored dry nuts this way for a year and probably could have done more.  Below are my oven treated nuts ready for their 2nd round on the dehydrator.

    If dry they are easy to shell.  Just get a thick stick or use your hands and start cracking.  I have invested in a dave built nutcracker.  It is adjustable to do all sorts of nut sizes and can crack most all nuts, although black walnuts are a bit too tough.


There are two methods of leaching.  Hot and cold.  Your nut meats may also need to be whole or chopped up.  If your nuts are really bitter it is suggested that you chop them up for the leaching treatments.

Hot method -- Using boiling water boil your acorns.  Once boiling, the water will be turned brown with tannins.  Straign acorns out and add more boiling hot water.  If you add cold it may lock in bitter flavors so keep adding hot.  Continue  adding batches of hot water until acorns taste mild. 
  • This method seems to me the most energy using and the most work.  Your acorn starches will also be cooked, so they won't be as good at thickining
  • You will get your acorns sooner though

Cold method
  1. Put your acorns in a bucket or bowl and change the water twice dailey.  Taste them and when they arn't bitter they are done.  My most recent batch was 3 days.  Some are shorter, Some longer. 
  2. Use the top tank of your toilet as a leacher.  Clean your tank first and keep mesh bag away from moving parts.
  3. Set a mesh bag of acorn meats in a clean spring of flowing water
I like this method best because it's not much work and the starch is more raw for better cooking.

   To grind your nuts to flour you've got a couple options. 
  1. Put wet acons in a blender with water.  Add the paste to your pancakes, cookies, breads etc.  I just got done eating a pancake with this method and it was great.  Freeze your wet leached acorns for later use.
  2. Dry acorns and grind in morter and pestle
  3. Grind dried acorns in coffee grinder
  4. Buy a flour mill

Oh yes just one more use for that magic bullet! Turn wet acorns into a nutricious paste for baking. 
Here's my flour mill.  I got it on ebay for 100 bucks and it works great.  The brand name is magic mill for this model.

Here are some acorn cookies I made.  Acorn flour can be substituted for 1/2 the regular flour in your recipe.  These were choc chip cookie recipie without the chips.   
Here's a utube summary of my acorn processing
I meant to have a better sound track but due to copywrite laws, youtube blocked me.  So play some music if you want.  I suggest Daft Punk voyager.

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