The story so far

Tamara left Bunyip in April 2009 seeking what she needed to know for her permaculture future. She spent 9 months at her Aunt Catherine's farm in Arid South Australia, then 9 months at Bill and Lisa Mollison's farm in Tasmania. Now she's off on more adventures starting Moonrise School of Permaculture and teaching Permaculture Design Courses in the beautiful Dandenong Ranges near Melbourne. Ducky is there for the journey...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

How to process acorns

Acorns are fantastic! They are full of nutrients, are a complete protein and are full of good fats (about 30%) and high in carbohydrates. They are also high in folate! They taste delicious once all the tannins have been removed (by leaching into water). And, for the most part - they are free if you live in a temperate climate! 
I started this post last year - at the start of my acorn journey:
Its early autumn here in Melbourne and the acorns are ripening and dropping off the oaks. I've wanted to try eating acorns for a few years now, but some oaks only have acorns every other year and that was the case last year in Tassie. Imagine my glee last week when I found a huge oak tree at Eltham College - where I was doing an awesome course with creative permie Robin Clayfield. I got some help to pick up a couple of kilos and promised acorn biscuits to the group. Unfortunately, acorns take alot of processing, particularly to get the tannins out. It took about 5 days for me to go from acorn to edible mush ready to cook with, too late for the course but not too late to try it out on my unsuspecting parents. Well actually they were suspecting, I've tried stuff out on them before.
How to process acorns
Acorns are delicious and good for you once the tannins are removed. 

Peeling raw: Tamara's method 1
if you use a nut cracker you can get into the peeling groove - I often do it while watching Dr Who or the like.
Then I grind up the 'nut' and wash in water. Drain through a tea towel in a colander. Wash with water a few times a day until the tannins are removed - the tartness disappears. Will have a grainy texture once dried.

Peeling raw then boil: Tamara's method 2
Peel the acorns in their raw state and remove any dodgy bits. Place the nuts into plenty of water and boil for 10 minutes. Lots of tannin should come out. Drain and boil again. Repeat until the tannins are gone and the nuts taste good.

Boiling method: Taj's method 1
If you boil them for 10 mins in plenty of water, drain and boil again for 10 mins the shells should come away more easily. Drain and discard all the shells. Continue to boil the acorns until all the tannin is gone. Can take many boils. Will be soft and silky when wet and smooth when dried.

This last week I used a method that is about halfway between Taj and my methods. It made the best bread ever. Probably the easiest of all the methods here :)

Boil, grind and rinse: Tamara's method 3
If you boil them for 10 mins in plenty of water, drain and boil again for 15 mins the shells should come away more easily. drain and Discard all the shells. Put the 'nuts' in a food processor and pulverise. then I drain them using a tea towel in a colander. Do this rinse as many times as it takes for the pulp to lose its tannins - that tartness. I do this outdoors near a tap and drain into buckets I use for watering. Mine normally takes about half a week if I'm washing them at least once a day :)

Dry or cook:
Once the tannin is removed you can dry the pulp in the sun or the oven, or use wet in a bread or pikelet straight away.
Acorn piklets -  beat an egg, acorn flour, maple syrup, baking powder and cook! Serve with maple syrup for a perennial tree based feast! Very Permaculture!

Link here to my youTube video making acorn bread, using flour from all of the above methods!

IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not pick the acorns from the tree. They are not ripe, they are bitter and won't open even when you boil them forever!!! These things we can learn only from getting out there and experimenting!!! Get to it people!!!!!

FINALLY: I found an acorn that requires no further rinsing once it is boiled and shelled! It turns out that eating an acorn from every oak tree I find IS a good way to find that pot of gold at the end of the acorn rainbow! Hooray!!!! Have a look at the huge oaks in St Ardauld next time you are up that way, the acorns are small but taste so good with almost no processing!!!

At the Upwey Food Swap - I got some very good swaps for my acorn bread and my acorn flour! 

Surprise fact 1 - if you put whole cracked acorns in half a bucket of water and let it sit for a while it will start to smell like antiseptic. This brew will get your hands super clean and even get slug slime off!

Surprise fact 2 - 300kg of acorns will give you 100kg of pork - an excellent food to meat ratio!

1 comment:

  1. Can you store processed acorns for any length of time?
    How long does it take for the antiseptic to form?