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Acorns- Nature's Gourmet

Updated on October 3, 2009
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shelling the acornschopping acorns in blenderrinsing acornsboiling acornsfinished nuts
shelling the acorns
shelling the acorns
chopping acorns in blender
chopping acorns in blender
rinsing acorns
rinsing acorns
boiling acorns
boiling acorns
finished nuts
finished nuts

A Backyard Feast: Fool Proof Foraging

When Autumn arrives, anyone with oak trees in their yard knows what a prodigious lot of acorns one tree can produce. They fall by the bucket-full, are difficult to rake and generally make an awful mess. What many people do not know, however, is that these troublesome nuts can be prepared into a wonderful, nutritious food. In fact, they were once a staple to many Native American tribes. There are several different methods for processing them, but here is the way I prefer the most.

Acorns contain a bitter substance known as tannic acid, which must be leached out before the nuts can be eaten. The acorns from the white oak varieties (leaves have smooth, round lobes) have much less than those from the black or red oaks (leaves have sharp, spiny lobes) and are easier to prepare.

First of all, gather nuts as soon as they fall from the tree. There are lots of bugs that like to eat them and they also quickly rot. Toss out any acorns with major holes in the side. Next, rinse the acorns in a colander.

To shell them, slice in half with a knife and pop the nutmeat out of each half. Cut off any bad spots. The nuts quickly become discolored like peeled apples when exposed to the air, so do small batches at a time. When you have shelled 1 or 2 cups, place meats in the blender and cover with water. Blend on a lower speed, finely chopping them.

Line a colander with muslin or fine cheesecloth, or use a large, fine strainer. Pour blended nuts into colander and rinse well, until the water runs through clear. Place strained nuts in a saucepan and cover generously with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a gentle boil for 15 minutes. Strain and rinse again. Taste the nuts, and if they are still better, return to saucepan and boil for another 15 minutes. Repeat this as many times as necessary. I have found that I only need 1 or 2 boils before they are ready to eat.

These acorns can be added to just about any bread. I like to use them in waffles, pancakes, banana bread and boston brown bread. They add a delicious flavor resembling the taste of maple syrup, but with a distinct oakiness like that of fermented beverages aged in oaken casks (tawny port, sherry and bourbon). Use prepared nuts right away or freeze. And congratulate yourself. You have just made a huge step toward making foraging a sustainable alternative to the mass marketed, processed stuff people call food these days.

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    • profile image

      Erin 

      7 years ago

      Yeah.... I picked them off the tree. I had been trying to collect them from the ground and they were ALL bad. So I thought I was being smart and getting them before the bugs! So yeah, they were green. I was jumping the gun--now there are plenty of good, ripe ones everywhere. I have been labeling the bags differently so I know which ones were definitely ripe. I also have a jar in the fridge that would be my first batch ready to eat, but I know some of them were green. hmmmmm

    • Sara W. Harding profile imageAUTHOR

      Sara W. Harding 

      7 years ago from South Carolina

      I've heard different opinions on eating green ones. One source said that as long as they had fallen from the tree, they were ripe, then another said not to eat green ones. So I am unsure. I would think that it would be okay.

    • profile image

      erin 

      7 years ago

      What happens if you eat green acorns??? I have two gallon ziplock bags of shelled acorns in the freezer waiting for me to process them, but a lot of them were green when I shelled them. Should I throw them all away??

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