Acorns

123IMG_0667IMG_0665IMG_0578My latest experiement in foodstuff was with acorns. Because I happened to notice an overwhelming abundance of acorns this year, right in my orchard, falling from the valley oak along our road, I decided that I would be foolish to let this easy opportunity pass me by. We gathered a 5-gallon bucket-full from within a very small area.
Then, after a few false starts, such as guessing that I should soak the acorns and start them sprouting, I consulted a booklet that I had found online a while back. I spread out some acorns on a metal table with an open grid top to it so that the acorns could dry. The hulls started to split, revealing the yellowish white nutmeats inside. These acorns were long and meaty. I pulled the hulls away and made a stash of nutmeats.
I found that the VitaMix, as usual, worked like a champ to grind the acorns into flour with a bit of water added to the blender. I used the cold water method to draw out the bitter tannins: The acorn mush went into three half-gallon jars topped with cold water and kept refrigerated. I would carefully pour off the darkened water about twice a day and replace it with fresh. After a little more than a week, I was ready to move on in the process.
I read that I should heat the mush over medium heat, stirring constantly for fifteen minutes. It became like pudding, quite thick. I cooled it and then transfered it into freezer bags.
After freezing, I took a bag out and let it defrost at room temperature. Here’s when it really surprised me: I squeezed the water out and then added 1/4 cup to my flour to make biscuits–and the acorn flour actually changed in my hands from a playdough-like substance to a flaky substance. We could not taste the acorn flour in the biscuits but it gave a little brown marbling effect to the white biscuits.
Some friends were over for a birthday party and they noticed my soup pot of leftover acorns on the picnic table. (I had not processed them all.) Asked what they were for, I explained what I had been doing. One other homeschooling mom (Anette) then said that she would like to try processing acorns with her kids, as they have been studying California native Americans. I offered her a bag of acorn flour from my freezer. I was surprised by her call one morning, just days later. They had made a batch of acorn pancakes for breakfast and the kids deemed them the best-tasting pancakes they had ever had! Anette told me that she had modified the recipe and used at least a cup of acorn flour in with some whole wheat pastry flour. The family was then headed down to Sacramento to tour the California State Indian Museum. What a full and fun day for that homeschooling family!
My husband wanted to try the pancakes so that is what I put on our menu for tonight. We all enjoyed the pancakes very much! Really! Mine were made with a combination of white flour and acorn flour. Give it a try!

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