Cooking With Acorn Masa

Learn about cooking with acorn masa, includes tips on gathering, shelling and grinding acorns and preparing acorn meal to use in recipes.


| September/October 1977



Cooking with acorn masa is easy using these helpful tips.

Cooking with acorn masa is easy using these helpful tips.


Photo By Fotolia/nmelnychuk

Forage for acorns and use them in recipes with these tips for cooking with acorn masa.

Acorn Masa Recipes

Yosemite Acorn Pancakes Recipe
Miwok Acorn Muffins Recipe
Acorn Yeast Bread Recipe
Acorn Pound Cake Recipe

Look around you: One of mankind's oldest and most versatile "staple foods" is as close as your nearest park or forest . . . or maybe even your front yard!

Time was — back in the days when the fruit of the oak tree supported a large population of native Americans — that the hills and valleys of California resounded with the sound of acorns being pounded in stone mortars. White settlers, of course, never learned to tap the rich store of nutrients contained in these kernels (perhaps because they had no patience for the laborious grinding and leaching processes that were necessary to make the nuggets edible), and — as a result — acorns (as food for humans) went out of style in the U.S. around the turn of the century.

And yet — appreciated by modern man or not — acorns (millions of tons of them each year) go on growing and dropping to the ground . . . not just in California (where the shiny kernels are so plentiful in the fall that the natural population of jays, squirrels, and chipmunks can't even begin to eat them all), but in the rest of the country, too. What a shame more people don't recognize this yearly bumper crop for the excellent source of nutrition that it is!

You can take advantage of some of this free bounty for yourself. It's a simple matter to harvest a season's supply of acorns, process them into a coarse, meal-like flour, and cooking with acorn masa by adapting the flour to your favorite bread, muffin, and cake recipes. Our family has been doing this for some time now, and we've found acorn-meal dishes so rewarding (in taste, nutrition, and sheer fun) that we're anxious to share our "secret" with others!

mc_2
12/7/2008 5:58:17 PM

There are (or so my crafting book says) two basic kinds of oak: white and red. White oaks have leaves with rounded lobes, red oaks have leaves with pointed lobes. Acorns from white oaks can often be eaten without leaching (true in the one season of experience I have gathering them; the ones we gathered this fall were even tasty to munch right out of the shell). Red oak acorns, while edible, have a higher concentration of tannins and must be leached in order to be tasty. I think tannins in acorns can poison you, though I think I remember reading that you would have to eat a lot. Leaching can also be done by chopping the meats and boiling the pieces. Boil as for quick-soak beans; repeat about every hour, changing the water until meats are no longer bitter. NOTE: I think I remember reading in a book somewhere that the tannins are much more concentrated in the leach-water (ie it takes less to cause poisoning) so please keep a close eye on kids and pets. ONE OTHER NOTE: Don't get greedy and gather more acorns than you want to process immediately. I don't know if I wasn't watchful enough about what my 7-year-old put into the bag or if they simply do not keep well, but I put a big grocery bag of them up in my pantry, got sick that night, and went back a week later to get them for processing only to find them so severely rotted that even the squirrels would only pick them over.






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