Making Acorn Flour
When I started eating more local foods and growing much of my own produce, I really didn’t think I’d become a forager. But more and more, it seems like a cool idea. I live in Virginia, which is an incredibly abundant place. I was thinking on that this fall as the Burr Oak in my back yard incessantly pelted my roof with acorns. Then I thought, how does one go about making acorn flour? I didn’t even know if acorns were edible.
Well, acorns are edible and making acorn flour is really not all that difficult. Tedious. Time consuming. But not difficult.
I found instructions on how to do it on one of my favorite sites, Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, along with some history on making acorn flour and its various uses. So, a week or so ago on a blustery Sunday, I grabbed a bucket and went out back to forage for some acorns. I have up within in minutes. The squirrels had done a very good job of eating the acorns. If I dug through the leaves I could find more, but it was musty, moldy work and I had another source. There are several trees in my neighborhood and two of them dump most of their acorns by the carport area. The leaves get collected, but the acorns nestle into the gravel. So, the dog and I scoured the neighborhood and had much better luck.
For my first forray into making acorn flour, I only collected about four cups of acorns. I wanted to test the process out before I really went wild.
Four cups of flour, nine days of leeching tannins, three hours of dehydrating, and one minute of processing later and I have about 3/4 cup of acorn flour. Thanksgiving morning I plan to turn that four into some acorn flour cakes!
Making acorn flour
So here is what you do:
First, collect the acorns. Look for holes in them. The ones with holes housed a little worm. They’re no good (and be prepared to encounter a few of the worms when your hulling them. It goes with the territory).
To get the nut meat out of the hull, I used a carpenter’s chisel. You could use a knife, but my hands are small and I had visions of losing a finger. Instead, I held the nut steady with some pliers and chiseled off the hull. Once I got in the swing of it, it was easy. I only encountered two worms, but both times they startled me. They kind of pop out as soon as you break the hull. They look like white fluff balls. Ick.
As you free the nuts, immediately put them in a bowl of water because they start oxidizing. This also begins the tedious tannins leeching process.
Once the nuts were done, I coarsely chopped them in my Vitamix. I decided to make flour my first time, rather than roasting the nuts. Acorns have a lot of tannins, so you have to leech them out. How long it takes depends on the variety of acorn. There are a couple of ways to do it, but everything I read said that if you’re making flour, you want to do a cold leeching (versus using boiling water). So, I put the nuts in a ball jar and filled it with water. Every morning for 9 days I changed the water until the water was nearly clear.
Once the tannins have been leeched, you need to dry the nuts. I used my dehydrator and it took about three hours. You can also use the lowest setting on your oven.
The last part was the easiest. I just put the dried nuts in the dry container of the vitamix and about one minute later I had acorn flour!
I’m insanely excited about making acorn flour honey cakes for Thanksgiving breakfast. And if they taste good, I’ll be wandering back over to the big oak tree and getting some more nuts!