How to Make Acorn Flour – A Pre-Thanksgiving Family Project | Cupcake Project

How to Make Acorn Flour – A Pre-Thanksgiving Family Project

 

Acorns aren’t just for squirrels. Native Americans ground acorns into flour and used the flour to make hearty stews and breads.

I, of course, used my acorn flour to make cupcakes. Acorns (once properly prepared for eating – more on that later) are walnut-like, but have a unique flavor all their own: sweet, subtle, and earthy.  You can eat them as nuts, but I recommend going the Native American route and turning them into acorn flour.  Preparing the flour is a time-consuming process (three days, excluding foraging for the acorns), but it’s a great pre-Thanksgiving project to teach your little pilgrims about Native American foods (hint: they didn’t eat green bean casserole).

How to Make Acorn Flour


Before I get into the details, you should know that I learned everything I know about making acorn flour from my friend Bryan.  Bryan spends half the year teaching survival skills and is an expert on this sort of thing.  You’ll see as you read further that I modernized some of his suggested primitive methods (he wasn’t happy about this, but you will be).

Image source: Wikipedia

Step 1:  Collecting Acorns

Your first step in making acorn flour is to forage for acorns.  Look for them on the ground beneath an oak tree.  All varieties of oak produce edible acorns, so you don’t need to worry about dying (this is always my biggest fear with foraging of any sort).  However, some acorns are much easier to work with than others.  Bryan warned me against using Pin Oak acorns – they are more work because of their small size and they also have more tannins (bitter flavor) to remove.   He also warned that some oaks, like Black Oak, have a thicker skin that will need to be removed – other varieties don’t have this skin.  He highly recommends White Oaks, Burr Oaks, and Red Oaks.  But, again, you can work with whatever you have.

I found that two pounds of acorns yielded three cups of flour.  Always get more acorns than you think you’ll need because some of them will turn out to be rotten when you open them up.

Step 2:  Cracking open the acorns

Traditionally, acorns are cracked open using rocks.  Bryan has special rocks that he uses for this purpose.  The rock on the bottom has a groove where you set the acorn (shown below). You then bang the top rock over the acorn to crack it. The whole experience is very satisfying in a primal way.

Most of us, however, don’t have the perfect rocks just sitting around waiting to be used.  If you don’t have rocks, a nutcracker does the job just fine.  If, after cracking, the acorn is black or crumbles easily in your hand, it is rotten and you should toss it.  If it is a hard brown nut, keep it.

Step 3:  Break the acorns into smaller pieces

Bryan made me eat an acorn at this stage.  It tasted like dish soap.  That unpleasant flavor is the tannin (a bitter plant compound).  As miserable as the taste was, it was smart of him to have me try it.  Then, I knew exactly what the flavor was that I wanted to remove in the next steps.  To remove the tannin (leach them out), Bryan recommends that you first break the acorns into smaller pieces.  You could again use rocks to do this, but a food processor is so much easier!

Soak the acorns in a bowl of water overnight to soften them (this makes it easier on your food processor and keeps it from overheating).  Then, food process the acorns until they are broken in small pieces.

Step 4:  Leaching the tannins

 
Bryan leaches his acorns in a stream.  He wraps the acorns in a cotton cloth, ties the cloth to a branch, and puts it in the water.  The water runs through the acorns and leaches the tannins out.  If you don’t have a clean stream nearby, I recommend the sink method:
  1. Find a cotton cloth that you don’t care about (it will get stained) and wrap your chopped acorns in it.
  2. Set the cloth in the sink and fill the sink with water.
  3. Let the acorns rest in the water for 30 minutes.
  4. Drain the sink and squeeze all of the excess water out of the acorn sack.
  5. Soak for another thirty minutes and drain again.
  6. Taste!  Here’s where things will vary, depending on the type of oak your acorn came from.  The acorns may taste great at this point or you may have a lot more tannin to remove.  It took about two and a half hours to remove the tannin from my acorns.  If the acorns still taste very bitter/unpleasant after the first two soaks, you can increase the soaking time for the next soak to a full hour.  If they taste somewhat palatable but still a bit off, continue soaking just thirty minutes at a time until you don’t taste the tannin.  You don’t want to over-soak because you run the risk of removing some of the acorn flavor.
  7. Set the leached acorns out to dry overnight.  They should still be damp for the next step, but not soaking wet.

 Step 5:  Turn the acorns to flour

Bryan (and Native Americans) would use rocks to grind the acorns into flour.  I put all of the leached acorn pieces into my Vitamixblender and twenty seconds later I had acorn flour ready to use in my cupcakes.

An Extra Special Thanks to Bryan (Who Happens to Be Single)

As an extra special thanks to Bryan, I’m going to try to find him a date.  Does anyone in St. Louis want to date a smart, fun-to-be-around guy who knows his way around a kitchen and can survive in the wilderness?  I may have a man for you (drop me an email for more info).  

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13 Responses to How to Make Acorn Flour – A Pre-Thanksgiving Family Project

  1. Mr. P November 5, 2012 at 8:29 pm #

    Can’t wait to see what you bake with this!

  2. Zhen Derful November 5, 2012 at 8:42 pm #

    Gee if I was single and in that area I’d be all over that! Smart, handsome, can get me through the apocalypse AND perfect teeth? Shucks!

  3. Megan November 6, 2012 at 10:18 am #

    He sounds perfect for my cousin! Too bad she’s all the way over in Ohio. She’s getting her doctorate right now in geology and loves the out doors, hiking, biking, kayaking, rock climbing, you name it!

  4. Elizabeth November 6, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

    Makes me think of the book MY SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN buy Jean Craighead George. The boy in that book tried grinding up acorns to make flour. I bet your friend read that book about the boy that tries to live in the wilderness by himself. I think he finds a hollow tree to make his house in. I haven’t read it for 40 years so I may be fuzzy on details.

  5. Lissa Brooks November 6, 2012 at 2:31 pm #

    Wow, this is awesome. I love learning how to do things like this. If I didn’t have a bad back and could forage acorns, I’d be all over this. I’m sure I can find acorn flour somewhere, though. Can’t wait for some recipes.

  6. Elizabeth November 6, 2012 at 7:06 pm #

    We planted 2 oaks (white) in our yard and this is the 1st year they are producing acorns.

  7. Rachel Kline November 10, 2012 at 9:42 am #

    Hope you find the perfect girl for your friend. :)

    Any idea how long the flour will keep before going bad? I definitely want to try this with my kids. They love picking up acorns and bringing them home, so if I can do something useful with them rather than throw them away…

    • Stef November 10, 2012 at 10:09 am #

      I kept it in the refrigerator and it lasted about one week. It would last longer in the freezer, but I can’t say for sure how long.

  8. Ariane @ Skyeslife March 28, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

    Love this, I used acorn flour to make cookies for my blog and I mentioned this. Thanks for the info!!! http://skyeslife.com/2013/03/29/gluten-free-acorn-flour-chocolate-chip-cookies/

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