Thursday, February 7, 2013

How to Eat Acorns

Acorns can be great food
Red Oak (Quercus rubra

Acorns are the nut (fruit) of the Oak (Quercus species). I wrote a more extensive article on Oak trees yesterday. Acorns are very high in carbohydrates and good fats, but very few Oaks have nuts that taste very good without processing. So which ones taste good? How do you process acorns? Is it easy, hard, time-consuming? Is it worth the trouble?

I will answer some of these questions myself, but I am going to provide a lot of links to really good articles on the subject. There are others who have a lot more experience that have written a lot on the subject. So instead of re-inventing the wheel, I will just give links to some reallygood articles.

Every tree is different. Every location produces different flavors and nuances (this is the Terrior of Food). One White Oak may produce acorns that are bitter and need to be processed, while another White Oak a quarter mile (0.4 km) away may be "sweet" enough to be eaten raw. Local growing
conditions and varieties play a large role. So experiment and see what is out there!

With that said, here is a list of the best tasting acorns:
  • White Oak (Quercus alba
  • Boz-Pimal Oak (Quercus aucheri)
  • Swamp White Oak (Quercus bicolor)
  • Emory or Black or Bellota Oak (Quercus emoryi
  • Pin Oak (Quercus palustris
  • Holly Oak (Quercus ilex)
  • Holm Oak (Quercus ilex ballota)
  • Chestnut Oak (Quercus prinus)
  • Blue Oak (Quercus douglasii
  • Burr Oak (Quercus macrocarpa
  • Cork Oak (Quercus suber
  • English or Pedunculate Oak (Quercus robur)

If you read these articles, you will see that there are a number of ways to process the acorns. The big decision is hot vs. cold water leaching of tannins. If you want to use acorn flour for cooking anything that requires the flour to stick together (i.e. breads) then you need to use the cold water method or mix the acorn flour with another flour, like wheat. This was Hank Shaw's mistake when trying to make an acorn flour flatbread.

Three articles on acorns written by Hank Shaw author of Hunt, Gather, Cook:

A fantastic, detailed article on using acorns by Green Deane, of the Eat the Weeds website:

A great overview of harvesting, processing, and cooking with acorns from Jackie Clay, a well known homesteader and writer for Backwoods Home Magazine:

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