In this instructable I will show you how to process acorns and make acorn flour. You will learn how to prepare acorns to eat. Acorns are a very abundant food source but it seems few people know that they can be eaten. I have talked to several people who didn't even know you could eat them. Acorns have been eaten for thousands of years, and were a comfort food for many Native Americans. They are a good source of protein, healthy fats, carbohydrates and other healthy minerals. However, you can't just eat them right off the tree, they need to be processed first. Acorns contain tannins in them which make them very bitter and potentially toxic to humans. The tannins need to first be leached out of the Acorns then they can be eaten, Red Oak Acorns contain the highest level of tannins. In this video I will show you one method on how to process them but there are a few others. I will briefly talk about the boiling method as well. It can be tedious to process them but oh so satisfying. The acorn flour can be used in muffins, pancakes, breads, etc. It is very easy to do, if I can do it, you can do it. Let's get started!
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Follow the easy steps below or watch the video tutorial or do both. :)
Step 1: What You Will Need
You will need:
- Acorns (White Oak, Live Oak, Red Oak, etc.)
- Large Bowls
- Nut cracker or meat tenderizer
- sheet pan (lined with silicone mat, parchment paper, etc.)
- wooden spoon
- air tight container for storage (Tupperware, mason jar, etc.)
- Patience. :) lol
Step 2: Gather Acorns
First you will need to gather up some acorns. I found these Live Oak acorns about a mile from my house. They were from live oak trees in my church parking lot actually. lol. Depending on the variety of oak tree your acorns will probably look different. Some common varieties found here in the States are Red Oak, Live Oak, and White Oak. Live Oaks grow very well here in the Phoenix Valley, they are drought tolerant and withstand the heat. They are very common in the Urban areas of Phoenix and Tucson. Once you have the acorns gathered up sift through them and throw away any acorns that have the shells split, or have tiny holes (from Weevils), or if you shake the acorn and the nut moves around, it is bad as well.
Step 3: Wash, Dry, Dry
Now let's pour in some water and wash off the shells of the acorn. Then you can dump the water out and dry the acorns with a towel or paper towel. Next you will want to let them sit out in the sun on a sheet pan for several hours. It winds up making it easier to get the acorn nut out of the shell. However, if you picked the acorns up off the ground near the tree and they have already been sitting in the sun for awhile, you can probably skip that part. :)
Step 4: Crack Them Acorns
Now comes the fun part. This part is a bit tedious but I just do it while I am watching TV. Crack your acorn shells with a meat tenderizer or use a nut cracker. Dig out that acorn nut and place it in a bowl of cold water. You can use various little tools like a knife, etc. to help dig out the nuts. Also make sure to remove any little parts of the inside of the shell that may be stuck to the acorn nut. Those little bits contain lots of tannins. Remove any floating shell scraps from the water once you are done. Now let the acorns soak in the cold water for 12 hours.
Step 5: Soak, Drain, Soak, Drain, Clear
Now after 12 hours or so, the water will be really dark from the leached tannins. Dump out that water slowly, don't dump out any of your nuts. Then replace the water with fresh cold water. Now let it soak again for 12 hours, and keep repeating the process for 4 to 7 days until the water looks clear after a long soak.
Step 6: Drain, Taste, Roast/Dry
Now drain the water and give the acorns a taste. If they are bland and not bitter, they are ready to go. Place the acorn nuts on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a silicon mat. Then place them in the oven at warm temperature (around 160 to 175 F.) Put a wooden spoon in the door so it can't shut all the way. We don't want the damp acorns to make it humid inside of the oven, so we need to release that moisture. After 45 minutes, check the acorns, they will probably still be damp. Move them around a bit with the spoon, then place back in the oven, repeat the process until the acorn nuts are nice and dry. It usually takes 3 hours or so. Alternatively you can probably use a dehydrator as well to dry out the nuts. Once dry they are ready to be eaten. You can season them with salt and eat as is, or make acorn flour.
Step 7: Grind Grind Grind, Store
Place those nuts in a food processor or coffee grinder and grind them up until it makes a nice fine powder/flour. Place the acorn flour in an airtight container like Tupperware or a mason jar and store in a dark cool place. There you go, you have acorn flour which you can add to pancakes, muffins, breads, etc. :) :)
It is way fun going through the process, although it does take awhile, something very satisfying about the whole process. :)
***Note: There are a few more ways to process acorns. Another common way is to use boiling water. After you have de-shelled your acorns heat up a pot of water until it boils, add in your acorns and wait as the water turns dark. In the mean time heat up another pot of water to boil. Dump out the dark water from pot 1, then add the nuts to pot 2. While the boiling water is leaching out the tannins from the nuts, heat up new water in pot 1 again, etc. Do this back and forth until the water is clean. This whole process only takes around 1 hour to 2 hours. Which saves several days. However, I have heard that the boiled method doesn't produce as good of acorn flour.
Step 8: Video Tutorial
Now watch those steps in action by check out the video tutorial. :)