Stalking acorns

Picture by Curtis Clark, from the Wikimedia Commons

These are acorns from Coast Live Oaks (or something similar). They’re long skinny torpedoes that dive to the ground. They’re stuffed with nutmeat. The squirrels and jays are going crazy over them right now.

Also, they’re cheap as free. 😀

Since about June, I’ve had the idea to stockpile acorns, treat them so they’re edible, and use them in recipes that call for walnuts or pecans. On Friday I walked to our local park, which has lots of big, mature trees, to scout for oak trees.

Lo and behold, along the back side of the park, I found about ten big, mature coast live oaks.

Coast live oak, picture free use from Wikimedia commons. The ones at the park are much prettier than this sorry specimen.

I enlisted the kids’ reluctant help, and we picked up about half a pound of acorns. I needed a sample to try out. After I went through the whole leaching process, I still might not like the taste.

I referred to this website about acorn preparation. Those jokers on the Yahoo answers pages have no idea what they’re talking about.

I elected to skip the drying step, since this was a test anyway. I got my needle-nose pliers out, and sat and shelled acorns. It’s much easier than shelling pecans. More like doing an almond. I’d just cut the top off the round end, peel back the soft outer shell, and the whole meat pops into your hand like a yellow bullet of goodness.

Bitter. Oh my, I’ve never tasted anything so bitter in my life. That’s from the tannic acid in the acorns, which acts as a preservative. It’s also poisonous to humans. But there’s ways to remove it. I wanted my acorns as whole as possible, so I broke them all in half (again, like an almond) and boiled them.

You boil water, dump the acorns in, and turn off the heat. Let it stand for half an hour. Pour off the water and do it again. After the first three boilings, start tasting the nuts to test the bitterness. You can save the tannic acid from the first boiling for treating bug bites or tanning hides. I was surprised that it has a nice smell. I expected it to stink. It just smells like nuts.

Anyway, I boiled mine over and over for three days (mostly because I kept forgetting about them). Finally this morning I caved and did a rough chop on the acorn meats. They say if you can’t get the bitterness out, to grind them up and boil the meal. Two boilings after my rough chop, the bitterness was completely gone. They taste like a very mild walnut, but without the bitter aftertaste. (All nuts have some tannic acid in them.)

So now they’re spread on a cookie sheet in the oven under low heat, dehydrating. I mean to freeze them afterward. Without the tannic acid, they spoil quickly. As soon as our 100 degree streak breaks, I’m headed back to the park for a bunch more acorns. They’re cheaper than paying 7 bucks a pound for pecans!


2 thoughts on “Stalking acorns

  1. That is amazing the things you think of doing. I think it is awesome that you found out how to do this. Another good one is pine nuts. Those are really good once you get used to the pine taste.


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