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91 responses to “Acorn Pasta and the Mechanics of Eating Acorns”

  1. Julie in Sacramento

    Hank- I’m absolutely loving the acorn posts. I went in my parents backyard last week, which has a creek and an Indian grinding rock and some fantastic low-tannin oaks. Although most of the acorns were moldy or had larvae by January, the ones I’ve harvested needed only 4 water changes. Mild, nutty, and earthy, just as you described. I’m making acorn pancakes for my folks this Saturday, the same folks who responded to my gathered acorns with, “But don’t those taste bitter?”

    I use hydrated acorn meal, which is acorns that have been roasted, ground into meal, leached, and is still wet from the leaching process. Here’s my recipe:

    Acorn Pancakes
    Makes approx. 10 pancakes

    2/3 cup hydrated acorn meal, finely ground
    1/6 cup wheat flour
    1/4 teaspoon baking powder
    Dash of salt
    1/2 to 1 Tablespoon honey
    1 egg
    1 Tablespoon melted butter
    at least 1/2 cup milk
    optional: berries

    Whip the egg and 1/2 cup milk. Mix with the hydrated acorn flour and melted butter. Add the wheat flour, salt and baking powder, mix until combined. Fold in the berries (optional). Add additional milk until the batter is slightly thinner than a regular pancake batter.
    Pour batter on hot, buttered griddle. These take a little longer to cook than most pancakes, and they’ll look dark brown when finished. I like them thin, because it helps avoid a mushy center. Yum!

  2. Paula

    Thanks for this post- you’ve saved those of us interested in this sort of thing (me, for instance) a lot of time- I bookmarked this page by itself. I don’t know about venison stock (it looks pretty good though!), but that dish reminds me of the soba noodles my dad used to make us. He traveled throughout the world and I think it’s his fault that I’m into food as much as I am. At any rate, this was a great post, and well worth setting aside for later.

    Love the banner picture, BTW. I hope you get the James Beard- you deserve it.

  3. allisen

    You are awesome.

  4. E. Nassar

    Just to clarify and maybe a stupid question, but I’ve always gathered acorns that have already fallen off the tree when I was a kid. Is that what you are doing Hank? or are you picking them from the tree? I am definitely going to give acorns more of a culinary chance in the future. Thanks for sharing and looking forward to your book.

  5. Russell Kofoed

    I’m really enjoying your site. Unfortunately we no longer live in the land of acorns. We used to live in the Midwest where deer do indeed eat acorns. Now we live in Idaho and I haven’t seen Oak trees around. I do want to experiment with making my own pasta though. You’ve got some great ideas/recipes. Thanks.

  6. amy

    I love this.

  7. Nate @ House of Annie

    This is a very informative post! And a really neat recipe.

    Since you’re using foraged food, would you like to enter this post in our Grow Your Own roundup this month? Full details at

    http://chezannies.blogspot.com/2010/01/rambutans-plus-grow-your-own.html

  8. All Recipes

    Hey!

    Never though those are eatable. I have to try this recipe.

  9. All Recipes

    Lovely recipe :)

  10. Ryan Sabalow

    Too cool. Great post.

  11. fishguy

    Great post. I’ve got some big white oaks on the property and am thinking of ways to incorporate some squirrel. Hope you are healing fast.

  12. deana@lostpastremembered

    I just found your blog and wow… the hunter gatherer is alive and well and writes like a dream… great post… I can’t do acorn flour but would like to give this a try….Thanks!!

  13. we are never full

    whoa, hank. I loved this post… incredibly informative. Growing up in the woods in PA, it was hard to walk around our yard w/o squashing acorns all over the place. I would love to be able to make my own acorn flour. Is it even for sale anywhere? the color of that pasta alone is making me want it. I can close my eyes and imagine the nutty flavor. i was thinking as i was reading about how amazing they would be w/ mushrooms and, voila, mushroom ragu. awesome.

  14. Melissa

    Are there any places that you shouldn’t gather acorns? I am concerned about pesticides and other nasty chemicals getting on the acorns. Would the shell protect the nut from any chemicals?

  15. Jana

    Great article! I prefer the fridge method, we have lots of black and red oaks here in Portland.

    Ever tried the oak weevil larvae, aka acorn grubs? They’re delicious! Buttery. I’d guess those are actually the fattiest acorns.

    Also, I really like your idea to use them in meatballs! I agree, the texture improves with bit of “filler”, but I prefer to avoid grains.

  16. Ellen

    Just discovered your blog and have bookmarked you; excellent site. I’m baking w/acorn flour for non-foraging friends tomorrow night and was all set to try your acorn honey cake recipe when I noticed you weren’t entirely satisfied with the texture. Have you tweaked the recipe to solve the problem? (What was the problem?) I’m sorry to say I don’t have enough acorn flour to experiment with and I want to be sure to impress. Many thanks.

  17. Ellen

    Thanks for getting back to me so quickly Hank. I think I’ll try the soup. I’ve got lots of wild mushrooms put by and it sounds delicious.

  18. David the Security Glass Expert

    You answered my Google question, which was can you gather acorns in spring. We live next to a large area of state forest in Connecticut – oaks and acorns everywhere. Thanks so much for the informative post. I’m going to give acorns a try. Someone once told me that white oak acorns make a great coffee substitute. Any experience with that?

  19. rose

    I just found this post, very nice. A bit of warning though, we have a current problem with oak tress in southern California an insect called an oak borer. The infestation is growing. As I collect acorns yearly, I have run into the problem of making sure the trees are not treated for this insect. I have been told that the effects of the treatment on the acorns is unknown and therefore we do not gather from them if we know they are treated. Also transporting any part of oaks, wood etc, is no longer permitted as it will spread the infestation.
    As for coffee, this is a traditional drink in southern California and northern Baja California. It is absolutely delicious, but the lower tannin acorns are preferred. See our mention of it in a calendar that we produced http://deborahsmall.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/ethnobotany-calendar-2010.pdf

  20. Jason Barney

    Hi,

    Great thread by the way….

    Last fall I spent a good deal of time collecting acorns. I shelled, boiled, and froze several bags, and am only now getting around to using them in recipes. My girl friend and I ground some up and made great acorn muffins!!! Yum Yum….a little maple syrup, with the traditional ingredients….
    Anyway, so I am now wondering about the best way to store the acorn flower. It still seems a bit damp….I have it in an old, empty, coffee container….but I am worried mold might show up.

    What would be the best way to make sure mold stays away?

    Jason

  21. Rose Anderson

    Hi Hank,

    I’m a raw foodest, very new to foraging. I have alot of mature green acorns that have fallen on my property due to the hurricane. Due to the work involved in soaking the acorns, I am definitely going to use the toilet tank method to soak/rinse over at least four days. Is this the correct thing to do with these? All the pictures I’m finding online show beautiful brown acorns, so I think I’m missing something–also, do you know if these mature green ones would be better sprouted in a jar?

  22. Acorn Meal « Riekes Nature Awareness

    [...] they’re more or less dry, the next step toward acorn soup, acorn bread, acorn pasta, or any other acorn creation, is to pulverize them.  Julia Parker taught her traditional Yosemite [...]

  23. oscar

    I tried the hammer to break shell, but it was then tedious to pull pieces out of shell. Instead , I cut top off and pealed off shell with my fingernails. This worked much better, and I got whole nut this way.

  24. kev-o

    Wow. This post is an incredible reference. Thanks.

  25. Susie

    Hank:
    Still looking for Acorn Oil. Have you done anything to figure out how to get it out of the acorn? The only thing I know of is the Piteba Oil Press, and it’s less than perfect.

  26. Acorns for eating « miscellaneacalifornica

    [...] Hunter Angler Gardener Cook <– definitely one of my favorites [...]

  27. thaddeus

    Hi Hank,
    I really love your blog, I’ve tried so many of your recipes now…

    I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned about acorns, which I’ve been experimenting with for the last few years. I use mostly tanoaks, which produce in abundance where I live along the Trinity river. I like their flavor the best out of what I’ve tried, as well.

    Julia Parker’s method (in the book “It Will Live Forever”) is definitely more work, but in my opinion, well worth it. my experience has been that the flesh of the acorns oxidizes rapidly, and it changes their flavor completely. the dry flour/cold running water leach keeps them from oxidizing if you use the leached, wet flour right away. if you’ve never tried it, it takes some effort to get it right, but you’ll discover a sublime and complex flavor – sweet and buttery – you didn’t know acorns had.

    my experience with leaching with the jar-in-the-fridge method is that when you change the leaching water, the fat rises to the top like in milk, and you end up pouring off the fat with the tannins and the resulting flour tends to be bland compared to the running water method. if I wanted a tasteless starch filler, I might use this method, but not otherwise.

    changes of boiling water is definitely easier, and the flavor produced by this method has its own merits, but again it’s very different from the fresh cold water method. I prefer it for soups and other uses where the almost mushroomy flavor is of benefit.

    my favorite use for acorn paste fresh from the leaching basin? nun’s farts or cream puffs. you can make a perfect pâte à choux with 100% acorn flour, and when it’s fresh, the buttery, sweet and slightly nutty flavor is magic all by itself.

    keep up the good work! I’m waiting for a recipe for bear salami…

  28. Jessica

    I am have been looking for the best way to make Acorn Oil. And am having a hard time. Would you be able to give me any suggestions. Thank You.

  29. Libby

    Fascinating post. I love process stuff like this. You were certainly ambitious in this project. I just had a go round with chestnuts here. Not nearly as exotic as your acorn endeavor ;-)

  30. Lisa

    I’ve been drying acorns, and found that my handheld metal garlic press works great for cracking the shells!

  31. agamemnon

    Hank,

    I would like to press some acorns for cooking oil. You say that you know how. My question is do they need to be leached prior to pressing? Thank you!

  32. Cactus! (Cactus Salsa) | Dottie Donut's

    [...] Kind of off-topic: Acorn processing is a fascinating process that I do want to try someday!  I would love to get some ground acorn and bake with it.  But, I do not have any acorns available to me right now   Here’s a good link on acorn processing with recipes: http://honest-food.net/2010/01/14/acorn-pasta-and-the-mechanics-of-eating-acorns/ [...]

  33. Help me Understand Edible Forest Gardening » Cycads Australia – Logo Design

    [...] people sustained themselves centuries ago in forested regions like ours.  Sure enough, check out this website about cooking with acorns,  and this nursery in Michigan is growing oaks for food [...]

  34. Sara Moore

    Thank you very much for such a wonderful and educational write up on acorns.

    I just did a write up on the wild edible plant, the White Oak tree, in which I linked your website due to the wonderful amount of information!

    Please take a look when you have time:
    http://blog.emergencyoutdoors.com/edible-wild-plants-white-oak-quercus-alba/

    Thanks again,
    Sara

  35. Dana

    Actually, there is no human dietary need for starch, and it is highly likely that the people of the Fertile Crescent in Iraq developed grain agriculture in order to *brew more beer.*

    There have been all of three major centers of agricultural development on the entire planet: one in Iraq, one in China and another in Mesoamerica. Everyone else has found that growing or foraging tubers or eating nuts more than sufficed, when they bothered with starch at all.

    It makes no sense, anyway, to develop agriculture for the purpose of fending off starvation. It’d be like sewing a parachute after jumping out of the plane barebacked. And perpetuating the myth that agriculture somehow saved us from a fate worse than death is harmful in terms of being able to move on from this incredibly destructive practice (all the grains are grass, which can only grow in unforested or deforested areas, which contributes directly to global warming) and find better ways of obtaining plant foods which are not so taxing on the biosphere.

    You’ve got a good start here with the acorns, anyway. If I wanted to eat that much starch–and I don’t; the tendency to type 2 diabetes is strong in my mother’s family, and I’d only put myself at greater risk.

  36. Dana

    Oh, and I meant to make note, but forgot in the process of thinking what else to say, that everyone else who’s taken up grain agriculture has done so by dint of enforced cultural change. They were converted into the act, rather than coming to it on their own. That says something. All along, when anybody bothered recording their words, indigenous people faced with being made to settle down to grow huge fields of grain largely resisted the idea, not seeing the point when there was so much other food in the world they could gather or hunt instead.

    There *is* quite a lot of food in the world, you know. Just because we refuse to see it as food doesn’t change the fact it’s edible.

  37. Susan Gregory

    I am processing acorns for the first time. I disgarded the ones that floated, had a hole, or was dark or deformed inside the shell. My question: Many of the acorns have a small black squiggle line on the outside of the meat. It does not go deep into the meat. Is this okay? I gathered six pounds, tossed three pounds due to floating/holes, and then tossed about half of what was left because the meat was bad. If I tossed the ones with the small line, I would toss another 80 to 90% of what is left. What is the line? Is it ok?

  38. acorn flour

    [...] times here ya go – pretty much covers it including some techniques I'd never heard of (toilet leaching?) "Of all the so-called 'natural human rights' that have ever been invented, liberty [...]

  39. Pickled Acorns « Seeking Sanctuary At World's End

    [...] I had frozen my acorns so I thawed them in the salt water.  Now if you are interested in learning how to prep acorns I highly suggest Hank’s post on acorns. [...]

  40. Theresa Dyjach

    I live in New England. We have small green acorns, can we use those as well ?

  41. Barb

    Thank you this is Fab – one question – as acorns are regarded as ‘nuts’ and therefore a Protein?.. so in making bread from the flour, would it be classed as the first real Protein bread?

    I ask this as I sometimes follow the Hay diet which is separating your proteins and carbs and eating them as a full protein or full carb meal on alternative mealtimes – (this is because the digestive juices in your stomach swop for each type, and can only really handle one at a time, and if you mix them your digestion will take days instead of hours longer etc, etc ) A ‘Protein’ based bread would be totally fab and could be eaten with other pure proteins ? Thanks !
    All the Best x

  42. Samantha

    Hank-
    I’m an inspired and beginner forager. I collected a bucket of acorns and quickly learned, by markings and color, which were likely infested or rotted. My question to you is, of the ones that seemed healthy I noticed there were still dark spotting in the nut meat. Are those still okay to eat? Thanks!
    Keep on blogging and sharing your adventures!

    Samantha

  43. Stephanie Gaignat

    Is it safe to use the water the acorns were boiled in on other plants? I would like to be water wise if possible and get double duty out of it.

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