For my first acorn flour making experience, I used the boiling water method to leach out the tannin. I thought that turned out to be very labor intensive and I don’t plan to use that method again.
Since that first acorn harvest, I have been searching for a better source of acorns for making the flour needed for breads and muffins. When I went back to that school for this year's acorns, I was surprised to find that none of those large trees bore acorns this year. As I was leaving empty handed, I rode through the school bus driveway in front of the school, and I saw what I thought were gumballs all over the lawn and in the driveway. When I got right up to them, I discovered that they were large acorns. There were probably thousands of them all over the lawn areas beneath the trees! I took a sample leaf and acorn to the local Co-operative Extension Office and they identified the sample for me. These oaks are actually called “saw tooth oaks”. The botanical name is “Quercus Acutissima”. There are eleven of these beautiful acorn trees planted along the entire driveway out in front of the school, and they are spaced apart in a way that seems to promote the growth of the size and quantity of the acorns. Here is what they look like with their caps on:
At first, I picked up enough acorns to fill a five gallon bucket using a modified “Grabber” (as seen on TV) that I fitted with suction cups. I realized that if I wanted more acorns, I needed to obtain a device that would pick them up more productively. Doing it just one-by-one with the Grabber simply wasn't providing a sufficient enough quantity for what I needed to do. So I went to a nearby feed & seed store and bought a nut harvester for a little over $23 including tax.
I wasn't sure if it would do the job for me, but boy did it ever! I ended up with well over one hundred pounds of acorns, but that included ones that needed to be culled out due to defects as well as some empty caps.
I saved all the empty caps and empty acorn shells for starting fires in our fire pit. The acorns that were split, blackened, or had worm exit holes in them were simply discarded after leaving them out for a week for the squirrels in our yard. They wouldn't have any part of them. Maybe the tannin was too strong for them, so into the trash can those culled acorns went.
Before processing these acorns, I searched You Tube thoroughly and came up with recommended guidelines for doing it from a You Tube channel by Arthur Haines. If you are serious about using acorns for a supplemental food source, I highly recommend watching this video. I studied what he was saying and I watched the video three different times before proceeding with my acorns. The part about not using a "recipe" was very accurate. As he stated in the video, "When it's done, it's done!", means just that. I tasted mine as he suggested and your taste buds really let you know when the tannin hasn’t been completely leached out. When the tannin isn’t gone, you will certainly pucker and spit it out!
Here is a link to his channel:
From Tree to Table: Gathering and Processing Acorns
Shelling the acorns was done by simply turning them cap side down on the anvil and giving a slight rap with the hammer on the very point that was sticking up. This produced a clean crack down the side of the shell, and then I just opened them up and the acorn meat fell out in a whole piece most of the time. Sometimes I was too eager and the gentle tap not only split the shell, but split the acorn meat down the center, but there was no harm to the acorn as they would be ground up anyway. After shelling the acorns, I put them back into the same colander to rinse them to get any debris off. You can hardly tell the difference between the volumes of a colander full of acorns in the shell, or a colander full of shelled acorns! That is a substantial amount of food from the wild.
After shelling, I had to reduce them to a fine meal in order to efficiently process the tannin oil out of them. I had an old hand operated meat grinder that my mom used when I was a kid, but I decided against using that. Instead, I used a kitchen blender half filled with water set on grind for a period of three minutes for each load. That was troublesome due to the size of the acorn meats. It was like trying to grind a blender full of marbles. Look at the size of this shelled acorn! After removing an almost paper thin shell, it's all meat!
Even when filled halfway with water, the blender had a very tough time grinding the acorns. I'm sure I have shortened the life of the blender. It would have been far better to run the acorns through the old meat grinder to chop them into a much more manageable size for the blender to grind up. When I make my next batch, I will use the hand cranked meat grinder first. It will make it so much easier!
I wanted to share my acorn cold water processing experience, so I would take pictures of my jars of acorn slurry in various stages as it progressed.
These are the jars during the water change at 9:25 p.m., still on October 22nd. Look at that tannin color that had leached out in only eight hours.
At 11:34 p.m. on the evening of October 22nd, I changed the water again. In just over two hours, look at that tannin color that has leached out. That was surprising!
The next morning, October 23rd at 7:44 a.m., you can see the benefit of not putting too much acorn meal into the jar to leach. The third jar from the left is progressing faster to be ready for use, because there's more water in it. I plan to only fill the containers half-full of ground acorn meal when I make my next batch.
Then I used the following recipe and made Acorn Muffins and Acorn Bread, and I put the rest in the fridge for use in three or four days.
Either the muffins or the bread are delicious warmed in the microwave for 10 seconds or so, then topped with homemade peach preserves, fig preserves. Crab-apple jelly, or even store-bought strawberry jam!
I hope you have enjoyed this information I have shared with you about how to use this abundant and naturally available food resource. Give it a try and see how you like it. Pay attention to your area around where you live and see what wild food resources are available to you!
Have a wonderful prepping day!
P.S. Please forgive the varying sizes of font. Blogger simply will not let it be uniform for ease of reading, even when using Google Chrome.