2017 - Volume #41, Issue #4, Page #40[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Turning Acorns Into Human FoodAcorns look like they should taste good but if you’ve ever bitten into one, you know they’ve got a bitter taste. In recent years some food experimenters around the country have been coming up with new methods to turn acorns into human food.
Wild food expert, Dr. John Kallas, of Portland, Oregon, offers classes on preparing acorns. He teaches techniques to break open the flexible shell, identify bad acorns, remove the tannins (which cause the bitter taste), and dry the nuts in a way that avoids mold (www.wildfoodadventures.com).
Sue Chin, owner of Sue’s Acorn Café in Martinez California, sells breads, biscotti, and muffins made with acorn flour. She hand grinds acorns into flour. The flour sells for about $30 a pound, perhaps a bargain for all the work involved. Chin is from South Korea, where acorns have long been a traditional part of local diets (www.buyacornflour.com).
Hank Shaw is the author of several books, including “Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast”. Continually on the hunt for unconventional food sources, Hank holds workshops around the country and his website displays such delicacies as acorn dumplings and acorn maple shortbread cookies (www.honest-food.net).
In a good year, a large oak tree can produce 2,000 lbs. of nuts. Acorns are low in fat, high in B vitamins, rich in protein, and a decent carbohydrate. Depending on the type of oak, fat content can range from 1 percent to 32 percent with a protein content of 2 percent to 8 percent.
When gathering acorns, many nuts have to be discarded because they’re cracked and may have worms or oak weevils. Shelling the acorns and ridding them of tannin is the second step. They should be shelled under water because the nuts oxidize and rapidly turn brown. Tannin is best removed by placing the nuts in a water bath for 2 weeks, changing the water daily.
Once the tannin is gone, the acorns can be treated much like other tree nuts. They can be roasted for nibbling, chopped into pieces, ground into grits, or made into flour.
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