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mktye
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rwtye announced yesterday evening that we should collect all the acorns that have been raining down on our house and use them in a side dish this year at Thanksgiving.

I’m not sure if this idea is merely a side-effect of his not getting enough REM sleep because of the constant "thud, roll, roll, roll, plunk... thud, roll, roll, roll, plunk... thud..." of the acorns hitting the roof above our bedroom for the last three nights. Or, if it is some sort of karmic payback for the tree dropping a limb on our car during the last storm. But, whatever the origin, I see acorn processing in my immediate future.

Anyone here attempted such an endeavor? Helpful hints? Recipes?

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rwtye announced yesterday evening that we should collect all the acorns that have been raining down on our house and use them in a side dish this year at Thanksgiving.

I’m not sure if this idea is merely a side-effect of his not getting enough REM sleep because of the constant "thud, roll, roll, roll, plunk... thud, roll, roll, roll, plunk... thud..." of the acorns hitting the roof above our bedroom for the last three nights. Or, if it is some sort of karmic payback for the tree dropping a limb on our car during the last storm. But, whatever the origin, I see acorn processing in my immediate future.

Anyone here attempted such an endeavor? Helpful hints? Recipes?

No personal experience, but...

found a recipe for acorn pancakes here, but that same page has recipes for racoons and squirrels, so ymmv (see the url: this is why i didn't go to A&M like many of my friends).

In general, acorn flour seems to be the main thing they're useful for, but I'm not sure it's worth the effort to do the processing yourself. Let us know how it goes if you try it.

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Let us know how it goes if you try it.
Sure, and most likely in excruciating detail. I'll even take pictures! :)

Here are the processing instructions we were looking at last night: click. Our tree is a chestnut oak (I think, or it could be a basket oak, or a hybrid between the two) and is supposed to produce acorns with a lower tannin content than some of the other oaks.

this is why i didn't go to A&M like many of my friends
Watch it, buddy. :):) Texas A&M -- Class of '90. :wub:
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Sure, and most likely in excruciating detail. I'll even take pictures! :o

Here are the processing instructions we were looking at last night: click. Our tree is a chestnut oak (I think, or it could be a basket oak, or a hybrid between the two) and is supposed to produce acorns with a lower tannin content than some of the other oaks.

Watch it, buddy. :):) Texas A&M -- Class of '90. :wub:

Ha, knew I was gonna step on somebody's toes with that crack. How is squirrel? :)

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acorns...Anyone here attempted such an endeavor? Helpful hints? Recipes?
Acorns are high in protein, carbohydrates and fat but their tannins make them extremely bitter. Animals that store them, like squirrels and chickens, do so hoping that the tannins eventually dissipate with rain water since they keep them from metabolizing the acorn proteins. If you are horribly desperate enough to consume acorns you should boil them (shelled) in renewed pots of water until the water has gone from brown to clear. You can grind them up to make acorn flour but the high fat content increases the risk of rancidification, so keep it refrigerated and away from light.

Based on prevalent 18th Century usage of acorns by Germans, Poles and the ever remarkable French, I have deciphered the following:

Acorn coffee:

Dry acorn nuts (the insides) in the sun until they are brittle. Toast them evenly and grind when cooled. Use 15grams of acorn per cup of water and 120 grams of sugar which probably comes from Haiti by 2 masted barquentine -be patient. Discard both ground acorns and diseased 18th century water and eat the sugar instead...

Acorn beer:

I don’t know really, but it used to be done. Most likely very bitter. Of course the life expectancy back them was about 38 years. Drink up.

Acorn tart:

In a blind baked pâte sablée pour in a purée of über-boiled acorn nuts to which you have added some yogurt or crème fraîche, honey, raisins, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and enough milk and whipped egg white to lighten the filling and neutralize its devil’s bitterness. Bake and hope for the best or an exorcist.

Acorn pâté:

Add to your acorn purée some olive oil, olives, onion and leek sautéed in fatback, juniper, salt, and whatever alchemy dust you have in your cupboard. Bake, cool and slice. The starch from the acorn with solidify it. A compte of unripe persimmons and wormwood might upstage the bitterness.

Note: peasant recipes of yester-century rarely have measurements since nothing was ever plentiful and dishes were prepared with whatever was on hand.

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Rwtye must be nuts. :) But maybe this will help. Yummy - acorn mush!
Thanks for that link. We'll probably split the harvest so we can try both the hot leaching and the cold leaching.

Ol' Bushytail was out collecting acorns yesterday evening after he returned home from his day job. But, after applying various tools from his substantial collection, he deemed the acorns too soft to easily shell, so into a low oven they went to dry. There are now four half-sheet pans of acorns sitting on the kitchen counter. :)

Acorn pâté:
This would be perfect for my family's Thanksgiving tradition of starting the meal with the ceremonial tossing of the pâté into the woods.

However, since it will be rwtye's family in attendance this year, I am leaning toward making an acorn mush using turkey stock and copious amounts of garlic, then stirring in a pound or so of crisply fried, crumbled bacon just prior to serving. And, of course, I'll make some sort of acorn bread with the hot-leached acorn meal or possibly an acorn cake, topped with acorn buttercream and served in a pool of maple syrup.

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Acorn update:

First off, the tree has been supplying plenty of acorns to collect.

post-24-1159190935_thumb.jpg

The very first batch was quite damp, so the acorns were toasted in the oven at 200 degrees for an hour as suggested by this site. They were then stored, unshelled for 10 days in a large metal bowl.

The subsequent collections were stored, unshelled, untoasted, in a large paper grocery (TJ’s) bag for a period ranging from one week to one day.

rwtye spent a couple of hours shelling untoasted acorns (yielding ~1 quart) one week ago and those were stored uncovered, in a bowl, at room temperature. We started in on more shelling yesterday evening. What we discovered:

1. The optimal way to shell acorns is with a brick, a hammer and a table knife. Place acorn on brick, hit with hammer until it splits and then pry out the meat with table knife.

2. Toasted acorns come out of the shell much easier than untoasted acorns.

3. The bottom layer of toasted acorns stored in a large metal bowl for 10 days will mold. :)

4. The bottom layer of untoasted acorns stored in a paper bag for a week or so, will not mold, but ~10% will sprout. :)

5. Shelled acorns left out sitting for a week will also mold. :wub:

The acorns shelled last night were ground with water in blender (per instructions here for cold leaching) and then stored in the refrigerator overnight to allow the solids to settle. Here is what they look like this morning (the top container are the untoasted acorns, the bottom container the toasted):

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It will be interesting to see if the toasted acorns will still have thickening abilities or if all starch was irreparably altered during the unshelled toasting. We will also be trying out the hot leaching with a future batch.

Lots more shelling to go! :)

post-24-1159190975_thumb.jpg

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Acorn Update 2:

After 5 days of cold leaching, we tested the acorn meal to check out the bitterness and thickening ability by cooking a small amount of wet meal mixed with an equal volume of water.

The untoasted acorns:

post-24-1159618171_thumb.jpg

Thickened up nicely, but still a bit bitter. The addition of some salt masked the bitterness and brought out more flavor, but adding maple syrup only highlighted the bitterness. It still needs further leaching.

The toasted acorns:

post-24-1159618186_thumb.jpg

I had my doubts, but it also thickened without issue. However, it was very bitter even though it had been leached the same amount of time as the untoasted meal and in a greater volume of water (there was less of the toasted acorn meal to start).

We'll continue the cold leaching (with daily water changes) of both of these batches, but try hot leaching with the next batch shelled. Unfortunately, as much as pre-toasting of the nuts eases the shelling, I don't think we'll attempt that again because it seems to hinder the leaching of the tannins.

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Leachin’, leachin’, leachin’

Though the nuts are bleaching

Keep them tannins leaching

Acorns!

Gathered, shelled and ground up

Lengthly soakin’ holdup

Wishing for a tasty buffet

Good victuals, all non bitter

Possibly even some sort of fritter

For cooking up on Thanksgiving Day

Fill it up (pour it off)

Pour it off (fill it up)

Fill it up (pour it off)

Acorns!

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Thanks for that link. We'll probably split the harvest so we can try both the hot leaching and the cold leaching.

Ol' Bushytail was out collecting acorns yesterday evening after he returned home from his day job. But, after applying various tools from his substantial collection, he deemed the acorns too soft to easily shell, so into a low oven they went to dry. There are now four half-sheet pans of acorns sitting on the kitchen counter. :)

This would be perfect for my family's Thanksgiving tradition of starting the meal with the ceremonial tossing of the pâté into the woods.

However, since it will be rwtye's family in attendance this year, I am leaning toward making an acorn mush using turkey stock and copious amounts of garlic, then stirring in a pound or so of crisply fried, crumbled bacon just prior to serving. And, of course, I'll make some sort of acorn bread with the hot-leached acorn meal or possibly an acorn cake, topped with acorn buttercream and served in a pool of maple syrup.

I'd be curious to try one of these baked goods -- the "value-added" acorn products -- to see what happens. Sampling the existing mush plain yesterday with rwtye....well....it was all texture but no flavor. Much like Metamucil if it didn't come in day-glo orange. :)

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I'd be curious to try one of these baked goods -- the "value-added" acorn products -- to see what happens. Sampling the existing mush plain yesterday with rwtye....well....it was all texture but no flavor. Much like Metamucil if it didn't come in day-glo orange. :lol:
The hot- (actually semi-hot) leaching has been the key. With the cold leaching taking forever, we switched to a modified hot-leaching process. Ground acorns + hot water from the tap, let sit for one hour, pour off the water and repeat. A couple dozen changes of the water and the bitterness was nearly gone. But as CrescentFresh noted -- acorns are not terribly flavorful to start so they definitely need some sort of enhancement (perhaps a conure-flavored acorn dish? :) ). A surprise result is that the hot-leached acorn meal still thickens when boiled, so acorn mush will be an option.

Tomorrow is the big day for acorn-containing baked goods experimentation. The acorns are leached and various flours are sitting out and ready to go. You may just get your wish Mr. Fresh. :)

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I am happy (relieved?) to say that the acorn project is drawing to a close. Not quite sure what I will do with the ~2 quarts of acorn meal we have leftover, but...

What I've made so far:

Acorn Rolls -- 1 cup acorn meal, 1 cup oatmeal, 1 cup white whole wheat flour, 3-4 cups bread flour, salt, maple syrup, olive oil, yeast and water. I was a little worried that the acorns might somehow affect the yeast and hinder rising, but there were no issues at all. I make this bread recipe quite often (using pecan meal in the place of the acorn meal) and the rolls tasted pretty much like they always taste but the maple flavor may have been a bit more noticeable. For your viewing pleasure:

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A-Cornbread -- 1 cup acorn meal, 1 cup unbleached AP flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, buttermilk, butter. While the texture was good, these were pretty bland tasting (I mainly tasted the buttermilk). Butter certainly helped and seemed to mask the slightly bitter finish.

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Acorn Mush -- equal parts acorn meal and turkey stock, garlic cooked a bit in butter, bacon, salt. With all the butter, garlic and bacon, how could it be anything other than tasty? :)

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And a couple of pics of the coarsely ground acorn meal after leaching and then after whirring it in the food processor to make it a finer grind:

post-24-1164394861_thumb.jpgpost-24-1164394876_thumb.jpg

Lessons learned:

-- Whole, unshelled acorns mildew easily. Ideally, they should be stored in a single layer.

-- Newly fallen acorns are a pain to shell. But the best way to do so is to place an acorn on a hard surface, whack with a hammer to split and then pry out the acorn meat with a table knife. Even better would be to let them dry for a couple of months and you can probably shell them with your hands.

-- Store shelled acorns in the freezer. They will also mildew quickly at room temperature.

-- Don't toast acorns before leaching since it seems to impede the leaching of the tannins.

-- To leach the acorns in the most expedient manner: coarsely grind the shelled acorns (I ground them with an equal volume of water in a blender) and soak in water hot from the tap. Let sit for one hour, pour off the water, mix in more hot water, and so on. For our acorns, I changed the water about two dozen times and used about double the volume of water to that of the acorns.

-- Cook up a bit of the acorn meal (with equal volume of water) to taste for bitterness since the heat seems to bring it out.

-- Acorn meal can be used pretty much like you would cornmeal and has similar properties (it will thicken up when cooked). However, acorns (at least the ones off of our Chestnut Oaks) have a very subtle flavor and, even after lots of leaching, there is still a bit of a bitter finish.

Overall Acorn Project Conclusion:

If you are hungry and need a food source, acorns are perfectly acceptable and can be made into tasty dishes. However, it is a heck of a lot of work and there are much more convenient forms of food out there that have more flavor.

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