This year has been the year for a new kitchen adventure around ancestral foods – acorns! As flour!
You may remember that last year I made acorn coffee for the first time, and it was such a fun experiment. One thing I learnt is that, even for coffee-making, acorns need to be leached because those bitter tannins are, indeed, really bitter. Even though all acorns are edible, they have different levels of bitterness and leaching them first is the best way to enjoy this processed wild food (even for coffee!).
Leaching isn’t as complicated as it seems at first, even though it’s a lengthy process that requires dedication. There are several methods to remove the tannins, depending on the resources you have available. From leaving your acorns in a mesh bag inside a clean, running stream (very similar to our folk method of leaching olives!), to leaving them in your toilet’s water reservoir (which is clean, and I would totally be trying if we had a water-toilet!), the point is to let running water do the job for you. Well, our stream isn’t running yet and the options are limited, so I’m simply soaking my acorn nuts in water and draining daily, until the water comes out clear.
But first things first! Here’s a detailed description of how I’ve been making batches of flour this year:
Collect the acorns. I usually collect the ripe acorns from the ground up, from different species of oak we have on the hill. If you live in an area with squirrels and forming an allegiance with them isn’t possible, you can collect ripening acorns from the tree and leave them to brown indoors, inside a paper bag. Clever!
Peel the acorns. This is easier than it seems. Simply pop your acorns inside the oven for about 30 minutes, until the shells start to crack. After that, it should be quite easy to open them with your hands (but keep a nutcracker nearby, just in case!)
Start leaching. Place your acorns in a pot and fill up with hot water. Drain and fill up again. Every day, you’ll be draining and refilling your pot with hot water until the acorns are soft.
Break them into pieces. Once your acorns are soft (they’re not leached yet, we’ll get back there in a minute!), take your immersion blender to the pot and blend the acorns together with some water. You’re breaking them into little pieces, which will speed up the leaching process and make grinding into flour much easier.
Keep on leaching. Now that your acorns are broken into small bits, it won’t take too long to be finished with the process. Repeat the leaching process until the water comes our clear.
Dry the acorns. I do this by spreading the acorns bits in a tray and placing it inside the oven, with the door slightly open. Remove once they’re dry.
Gring the acorns. You made it this far! If you have a flour mill, now it’s the time to use it. All we have at home is a manual coffee mill, so that’s what I’ve been using. Since it doesn’t give me a fine, powdery flour, I repeat the process a few times – I end up with a coarse flour. If I need very fine flour, I just sift the coarse flour I have and save the “meal” for something else.
Store in an airtight container and enjoy! 🙂
There you have it, (small-scale) acorn flour! My favorite part of this process is feeling the connection with the land and with local, ancestral food ways. Acorns were once a staple part of the diet of the many peoples that have dwelled here in the Iberian Peninsula. Unfortunately, as wild foods lost popularity, nowadays I haven’t met anyone yet who is familiar with the practice of processing acorns – most people around here just use them as food for their pigs! If I ever meet someone who still remembers, I’ll be sure to write down everything they have to say about this. Learning things by ourselves is lovely, but learning from Elders is absolutely priceless.
Acorn pancakes were the first thing we did with this year’s acorn flour, and they were absolutely magical. I mixed together acorn and wholegrain wheat. Next was bread! These foods have a delicious, nutty taste, and I actually love the coarseness of the flour. The small bits of acorn that are left become very soft as they cook / bake, lending a wonderful texture to the food!
Here’s to many more kitchen adventures using this humble wild food! ✨