Get your copies now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell's or Indiebound.

79 responses to “The Best Way to Make Acorn Flour”

  1. Dawn | KitchenTravels

    Hey Hank – thanks for the updated info. I’ve always wanted to make acorn flour. One of these days! Also, here’s a suggestion: paint strainer bags from the hardware store would work really well for this type of thing. We use them to strain out the ground nuts when making nut milks. And at around $1.25 a pop, you can’t beat the price.

  2. Sue

    Hi Hank,

    I have 5 Black Oaks on my proeprty and am looking forward to trying this recipe out. Thanks for providing it.


  3. Kate

    What are some of the things you make with acorn flour? Is it similar to almond flour?

  4. Wendy

    Thanks for the acorn research. Now that I have moved back to California I am excited to make acorn flour. Is there a particular reason the you specify leaching in glass rather than plastic? Do the tannins react with plastic? I have plenty of plastic that size but no glass..though I have been thinking about kimchi as well..

  5. MikeW

    We’re buying a house and it has two enormous oak trees. Time to try acorn flour.

  6. Marie

    Would the tannin leaching process work on horse chestnuts? We have several in our neighborhood and I just hate not doing something with the big, glossy nuts each fall. Thanks!

  7. TomT

    Hank — This reminded me of one of my boyhood favorite books — My Side of the Mountain. The boy in the story learns to make acorn pancakes and they become a treat for special occasions. Love reading about this.

  8. janetpesaturo

    Thanks, Hank – a very interesting read. I use the boiling with several changes of water technique, don’t bother to dry it, and use it as a coarse meal rather than a flour. It comes out yellowish, never dark brown.

    Rather than storing the flour, we use it immediately for breads, etc., that we make with the acorn meal, and store them in the freezer. But I guess it makes sense to use your technique if you make a large quantity of flour for long term storage. We also throw all kinds of acorns (white, red, black) into the same mix (I’m a fairly lazy forager).


  9. Drake loves moms: the week in beta* vol. 4 - {BETA}

    […] with acorn flour.  But actually making acorn flour never occurred to me until I stumbled onto this post that claims to tell us not only how to make it, but how to make it the best […]

  10. Neil

    Cool post. When I was young, an old Pomo Indian woman explained to me how to her people traditionally processed acorns. It was probably the old school version of how Kathy and her family do it. I was fascinated and still am but had never actually gone out and done it. It was a whole lot simpler, but the simplicity is one of the reasons I never did it. According to her, they dug a hole in the ground to leach them, and a mortise and pestle to grind the flour. So a little modernized version might actually be a help to me.

  11. Michael Greenberg

    I keep meaning to do this. But speaking of tannins, there has been some extremely exciting science news lately: French researchers discovered the “tannosome”, a new (to us) kind of organelle found in plant cells that’s responsible for the production of tannin. (See, for example, .)

    It kind of boggles the mind that this is something that science didn’t already figure out, considering the pervasiveness of tannins in plants. But: very cool!

  12. Michael Greenberg

    Hmm…for some reason, the URL didn’t post. One more try: If that doesn’t work, googling “tannosome” will find the article, if you’re interested.

  13. Sue Newell

    Chris S, the only plants that make gluten proteins are wheat, rye, and barley (including all the forms or wheat). Gluten in any other type of product comes from those cereals or cross-contamination.

  14. Alice

    Ever try making madeleines with acorns? I’ve had good luck with a recipe using skinned and ground almonds, whipped egg whites, some orange flower water… no wheat flour or baking soda. Fairly roughly ground almonds from an old fashioned nut grinder of the sort clamped to a table. I still remember how shocked I was they came out light and fluffy. Hmm. I just started to process a bunch of valley and live oak acorns. Maybe a maple flavor to the “gingerbready” acorns? Do you get that ginger-y flavor without roasting the acorns?

    FWIW: From the lower SF Bay Area word is the local Ohlone people cracked open the dried acorns by holding them pointy side down on a flat rock and lightly tapping the top flat end with a small stone. I tried that and it works like a charm. No hammer needed.

  15. Annie Carvalho

    Here is the process my grandmother taught me. Our way of shelling the acorns seems a lot simpler?

  16. Jennifer

    My folks have a Burr oak in their backyard. I collected some 50lbs so far. Any idea how those and on nutrition, ie, starchy, oily, or high protein? I am just about done with my first batch but I was having trouble finding stats on them.

  17. Brian Z

    One of your last comments reminds me of something that I realized about our modern agriculture and processing techniques. For one, very few people realize the actual energy input required to obtain say a pound of flour. Secondly, I believe our evolutionary physiological growth/adaptation has not nearly caught up to how quickly our methods and thoughts have evolved. Put another way, not terribly long ago on the scale of human existence a greater amount of personal energy input, directly or indirectly, would have been required from most of us to obtain a pound of flour. We have tapped the stores of our planets energy and translated it into our rapid expansion and growth. This comes with a cost that must be balanced. And while much of this is what many would consider to be “good” growth, it needs the temperance and reflection of our past to equalize and ensure our future.

  18. All About Acorn Flour | A Gluten-Free and Wheat-Free Flour | Spicie Foodie

    […] interested there is so much information about it online. This website is the best place to start, Hank has several articles on foraging for acorns, making flour from them and some great acorn […]

  19. Heidi Swets

    Hi Hank! I have many English Oaks lining our lane. This year I collected a bunch, and, not being able to process them right away, I wanted to keep them from spoiling, so I put them in the oven to dry in the shells, just on the pilot light (less than 100 degress). Now I am beginning to shell them and some are dark brown. Is this just a color change that comes from the slow drying (I kept putting them in and out of the oven, whenever I could, on cookie sheets.) They were soooo hard after shelling that I couldn’t crack them in my coffee grinder as I had hoped to, before leaching, so I gave up and just started cold leaching, changing the water several times a day. Now they are softening, and I think I might grind them up some. After leaching, I’m planning to roast them, in pieces, for making Acorn Chai. How long should I leach them? I’m assuming until the water no longer is brown or brownish.

  20. KT

    Wouldn’t it be much easier to soak them whole, then re-dry them, then ground them?

  21. the blooming gardener

    I finished our first try at doing this and everything has worked out excellent. Thank you Hank! Next fall, we’ll do it again but probably do it faster, and sooner, we had alot of moldy ones…and had to toss those.

  22. Aussie Spud

    KT asked: Wouldn’t it be much easier to soak them whole, then re-dry them, then ground them?

    Yes, easier KT, but you’d have to soak for many days to allow the tannin to leech out, for each of many changes of water. Grinding the nuts first allows you to hasten the leeching process.

  23. Acorn-Masala Coffee and Acorn Coffee | Fusion and Unique Recipes Only On Spicie Foodie

    […] Acorn flour isn’t an easy ingredient to find, but you can try this place online or look into making your own next acorn […]

  24. LB

    How many acorns did you use? I’m trying to figure out how much to oder. I’d like to make 3 loaves of bread.

  25. Donna Spudis

    Hey, Hank,
    Great article. I have tried making acorn flour before but was unsuccessful. We are trying again. We brought in a bunch of acorns and they sprouted while sitting in a bucket on the kitchen floor. Is the sprouting because of the warmth? Can you use sprouted acorns to make flour?

  26. Jenn

    Hey Hank,

    I’m collecting acorns today and I can’t wait to get started on making flour. Do the acorns need to dry out before hulling like walnuts? If so, for how long? I really love this site and your books. Thanks for sharing.


  27. Middle World Witch

    I made a newbie mistake, I guess: my fingers turned progressively blacker as I shelled the acorns. The consensus on several carpentry forums I searched re. how to remove staining on the hands from oak tannins is that one should just try to avoid it in the first place. Apparently the tannins bind to a protein in human skin and it doesn’t come off until the skin sloughs or *wears* off as part of the body’s natural processes. I’ll certainly wear gloves next time.

  28. Clyde Myers

    Hi Hank. I can’t seem to make this work. I have gone through yours and Sam Thayer’s instructions, but my red oak acorns always take over two weeks to leach changing water 1-2 times daily and by that time the meal has turned brown, and often spoils. Honestly, I could live with the color but all that work for so much spoilage is a real bummer. Any insight would be greatly appreciated, thanks!

  29. Cenaturimus

    Hey, I just discovered your blog. Thank you for this excellent post!
    I never saw acorns like these in Europe/Austria. But no wonder, if they are from endemic Californian Oaks 😉
    In most European parts we mainly have Quercus robur. But I’m pretty sure, it’s acorns can be used the same way and your post inspired me, trying it out.
    As far as I know, here, acorns were mainly used as substitute coffee (I heard, the german noun “ersatz” even made it into English. Do you really still use this word? Or has it strict “war” connotations?”)
    You (English-speakers) might like a common German name for this substitute coffee: Muckefuck
    (Like the small village “Fucking” in Austria ;-))

    Thanks again and I will definitely visit your blog more often. I find it fascinating reading of food, wild edibles and flora from different parts of the world.


  30. Erik

    Yes, up here in the Nordic countries the English oak, Quercus Robur, is the only native species… some individuals of other types, probably all “white” oaks, might be found planted in parks. The good news is that I think tgeir tannin content is low to moderate (I tasted a bit of a raw acorn today, and it barely tasted bitter at all), and supposedly many of the parasites and diseases that affect oaks don’t exist here.

    I picked a couple of handfuls to experiment, and was hoping to just toast them to be eaten as nuts, in halves or as crushed/chopped acorns for use in baking, like you can get almonds/hazelnuts/walnuts in stores. Any tips? Most of your and other people’s stuff concentrates on acorn meal/flour… my current plan is to shell, then crush, boil out the tannins, then toast them in the oven.

  31. Cedar

    Thanks so much for this. I got a bit lazy last year, and hot-processed my acorns, and I regretted it as soon as I took the first bite of my acorn bread. Still good, but just not MAGICALLY good, the way cold-filtered acorn flour is. It’s definitely worth the bit of extra trouble to process the acorns the way you describe here – this year I’m cold processing. I’m not in this for the convenience anyway! Thanks and enjoy.

  32. Deanna

    Thank you for writing this! I’ll be trying it out next summer. I have a question, I got a little confused about this tip you posted:
    “Tip: Let the water in the bowl settle for 1 hour. Carefully pour off the water and you will see a layer of what looks like beige house paint or melted coffee ice cream. This is acorn starch and fat. Use a spatula to scrape it into the container you are drying your acorns in.”
    Do you mean I can mix it back into the meal that was just strained and let it dry all together?

  33. Emily

    Hi! I am hoping you can give me some input. I used some red oak acorns. I had them hulled and soaking in cold water and changing the water three times a day. That was taking awhile (I think I did it 1.5 weeks), so I decided to try this method. I took about half of the acorns I had, ground them in the food processor (coarser than yours) and I have been soaking the ground acorns in cold water and pouring off through cheesecloth about twice a day. It’s been almost a week. I am surprised that the water is still coming out colored. Is that from the inner skins (I didn’t remove them), or is that still the tannins? Should I just keep going until the water is clear? Thanks for your help. I am doing a nature study class and we are covering wild edibles. I really want to bring something in using the acorns. I still have a couple weeks left to get these ready.

  34. steve

    Thanks a million! 35 years ago or so I whipped up some acorn bread for a public speaking gig in 8th grade. It was TERRIBLE! The books I had were, uhhhhh….. let’s say long on “wow” and short on sweat details. I can’t wait to try again with the benefit of this excellent post.

    Mucho gracias!

  35. zach

    Great post! Do you have a good source for purchasing acorns in bulk for restaurant use?

  36. LK

    more than 30 years ago in Eastern Europe my grandma who lived through WWII and some lean times sent me to pick acorns. She roasted them, crushed them and made ‘coffee’.

  37. Coco in the Kitchen

    Ok, someone recently brought me a bag of acorns that I intended to use in festive crafty stuff, but now I REALLY want to make flour.
    Are there any kinds of acorns that are not safe for consumption?

  38. Emily

    It’s me again. I hope you have time for another question because I am starting to worry. The ground acorns that I have been cold leaching for at least three weeks now are still bitter. The water is not clear, but it is not brown. It is still cloudy. So I have them in a colander lined with cheesecloth and have the water running. So far it has been almost an hour and they are still bitter and the water just barely cloudy. I am just completely lost why this is taking so long. What can I do with these? I need to bring something made with acorns next week for this class I am teaching, and my understanding is that if I hot leach the ground acorns now I will end up with mush. Help?!

  39. Emily

    I’ll see what I can do! The water is now totally clear but the acorns are still bitter. I am trying to figure out if somehow I bound the tannins in when I dried them. I have no clue. I will try the hot leach method and see how it goes. Thank you so much for your quick responses.

  40. Ken Richard

    Thanks for a great website. I am glad the Pittsburgh Tribune Review did the article on foraging. Too bad it’s too late in the year to collect white oak acorns this year, but in a ten minute walk in downtown Ambridge I can probably collect a bushel bu next fall. I can’t wait to try some recipes from here and the newspaper. The flatbread recipe sounds like something I would love as I eat nuts and homemade breads often. One question: Can I use my bread machine for any of this?

  41. Solomon

    Wanted to add a tip about where to get those gallon jars cheaper. Buy those huge jars of bad pickles sold in big supermarkets. The pickles are usually so poor quality as to be inedible but the whole jar only costs between $6 and $8 dollars depending on where you go.

  42. Sean

    I live in Northern California and I did this last year collecting mostly Coast Live Oaks. The first time I tried it, I just threw acorns in a five gallon bucket, then brought them home to sort. When I got home, that is when I noticed that 80% of them had worms in them. I tried shelling them and just saving the good parts and it took hours to just get a quart. So I went out again with a hammer and some Felco pruning shears. The hammer was tedious but the Felcos cut the the acorns in half easily, so I did the sorting in the field. This time I got 3 gallons of shelled, halved acorns in about 3 hours or about the same time it took me to get a quart my first try. The added benefit was the acorns were already halved and when I got home(sorting already done) all I had to do was add water to the bucket to start the leaching process. It took 12 days of leaching. I would also recommend nylon paint strainers instead of cheese cloth. They are super durable and ultra fine and you can squeeze the heck out of them without destroying the fabric weave. Somebody suggested that I could load up a couple of gallon paint strainers with crushed or blended acorns, tie them off and drop them into the toilet tank reservoir. That way every time you flush the toilet clean water is run through the strainers to start another leech. I think you would lose that fine starch but if you gathered a lot it might be worth a try on a small batch. . .

  43. betty

    are we not taking food from the animals – this is their primary food source – not ours. your website is amazing, but a little sad – squirrels and other animals love acorns and we are harvesting their food, what is left for them.


  44. Marsha

    Goodness Betty do you realize that this was also a staple food for many native American people?

  45. Zach

    Hey Hank, two things. 1) I think your links here may be misdirected as the “Acorns and the forager’s dilemma” link takes you to the “Best way to make Acorn flour” page. But maybe this is intentional? 2) For a first time acorn flour attempt, how much acorns would you suggest harvesting to make a decent batch?


  46. Brita

    The oak trees in my back yard have a bumper crop of acorns this year so I decided to try making the acorn flour. I picked about 1/2 gallon of nuts. Of that 1/2 gallon there were 7 acorns that didn’t have some sort of bug damage, larva, or eggs. By cutting out bug damage, I was able to come up with about 1/2 cup of meat. I avoided any nuts with obvious damage or holes, but can anyone suggest ways to know ahead of time which acorns are good?


  47. Barbara

    This is my first attempt at making acorn flour and yes it is a lot of work. Getting ready to shell and then run the acorns through a grinder. I don’t have a food processor and my initial research lead me to purchase a corn grinder. Am making a mistake?

  48. Lauri

    I just read that avocado pits are edible, nutritious, but bitter. I wonder if the same process could be used on them?

  49. Dick Anderson

    I’d like to try tanoak acorns. Have you ever? just going by the name, I’d assume heavy tannins, but would it be worth the time and effort?

  50. Erica Payne

    I read somewhere that if you throw the fresh acorns in a bucket if water the wormy ones will float???? Thanks

  51. Chris S.

    The 2015 bow season has, so far, been a bust…. save for the copious amounts of available mast! So far I’ve collected over a pound of shucked white oak acorns. Can I leach them semi-whole, without grinding? Ultimately they will get ground as my intention is to make “acorn butter” and not use them as a flour per se.

    Chris in Wisconsin

  52. missy

    Don’t try to leach your acorns in the toilet tank, unless you don’t mind brown stains running down the sides of your bowl. Also the blackish water looks really gross to guests that might use your bathroom.

  53. peter coyote

    This year I picked about ten pounds of acorns. Some of my trees put out millions of ‘tiny’ virtually empties, but others are large enough to use. I wash and dry them in the shell and then dry them in the sun for a week or so and they shell easily. When they’re shelled I rough them up in a blender and cold leach them, straining them usually three or four times, then dry them again, then grind them. Someone gave me a few black oak acorns and three huge ones from Oregon Blue Oaks which I’m trying to grow and plant. Have Pomo friends who help me out . Really appreciate your site. thanks.

  54. claire

    Hello! I was interested in reading your “Acorns and the Forager’s Dilemma,” but the link always forwards me to this story. Could you reset the link?
    Many thanks!

  55. Briana

    How can I find information on how to determine if an oak is “red” or “white”?
    I have two types in my yard: Water Oaks (drops enormous amounts of acorns every other year) and Live Oaks.

  56. palika benton

    I appreciate all your information you’ve shared. I still feel unclear about the process and there are still some unanswered questions in the protocol for processing acorns.

    I live in Santa Cruz – we have an abundance of LIve Oaks – so that is the primary type of acorns, although we also have an abundance of Tan Oak.

    Is this the order of the process?

    Harvest healthy clean nuts.
    Dry – how long is this drying process I’ve read 1-2 days 2- 3 weeks. I’ve read sun dry, oven dry on ?what temp?
    Crack Open
    – here is where I’m not clear – is it necessary to get the inner skin of the acorn off and how is this best done? I’ve read if nuts are dry it will come off easily. I’ve read boil them off, but then that seems to conflict with rest of process?
    Immediately put peeled acorn in water to preserve color
    Grind or Chop
    Leach in cold or hot water depending on use – does hot water leaching compromise protein or fat value?
    Grind more

    Thanks for your clarification on these questions. Palika

  57. Jason Keir

    G’day Hank. Cool article and website. Only just discovered it. I’m in Australian, so our seasons are reversed compared to yours. with Autumn approaching I’m foraging everything from wild blackberries to feral apples and peaches. All the acorns are swelling on the tree at the moment, so got me thinking about there possible use.

    I’m just wondering if picking the acorn ‘green’ odd the tree is a good idea? I’m thinking the tannins shouldn’t developed much yet, but has the kernal grown enough to harvest flour?

    Your thoughts?

  58. I Gathered, Cooked, and Ate Acorns (Part 1) | The Notes Which Do Not Fit

    […] “The Best Way to Make Acorn Flour” and “Acorns, the Inside Story” were my main guides for DIY acorn preparation. As recommended, I blended the acorns with water, made a slurry, and tried to change the water until the tannins were (almost) all out. However, I did not find their methods for changing the water entirely practical, so I ended up doing my own improvisations, such as using a baster to extract the tannic water. […]

Leave a Reply