How to Make Acorn Flour

Learn how to make acorn flour safely, leaching the acorns to remove excess tannins.

  • Be sure to leach acorns until all the bitter tannins are removed from your acorn flour.
    Photo by Brock Dolman
  • The OAEC Collective shares 200 unique and delicious seasonal recipes in โ€œThe Occidental Arts & Ecology Center Cookbook.โ€ The recipes incorporate wild foods and are presented in quantities suitable for feeding a crowd.
    Cover courtesy Chelsea Green Publishing

The Occidental Arts & Ecology Center is a farm, community center and educational retreat that has promoted heritage foods and stewardship for decades—and in The Occidental Arts & Ecology Center Cookbook, (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2015) the OAEC Collective and Olivia Rathbone present a collection of recipes to make the best use of traditional and wild foods in the kitchen. The following excerpt is from “Main Dishes: Using Grains, Beans, Eggs, and Cheese.”

You can buy this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: The Occidental Arts & Ecology Center Cookbook.

A weekend convergence at OAEC sponsored by the Cultural Conservancy called Decolonizing Our Bodies, Nourishing Our Spirits: Native Foods Think Tank, brought together cultural leaders, scholars, activists, and chefs representing 15 US and Canadian tribes to explore the importance of the restoration of Native foods to community health. Miwok cultural representative Julia Parker demonstrated both traditional and modern acorn preparation methods that we continue to practice whenever we get the chance.

Gather acorns when you notice they are dropping, usually from September to December. Collect only large, dense acorns, passing up those that have obvious weevil holes or that are unusually light. Immediately when you get home, dump them into a large bucket of water—discard (compost or burn in your fireplace) the ones that float, keeping the ones that sink. For maximum yield, you can put them all in the freezer—this will kill any remaining weevils. If you do not have time to immediately proceed to the cracking and leaching step, dry them to prevent molding and sprouting. Spread the good acorns on a flat surface in the sun to dry, or put them on a cookie sheet and place in a very low oven for a few hours (even just the pilot light should be sufficient). Store in a basket with plenty of airflow until you’re ready to proceed. According to California Native traditions, acorns are stored with boughs of California bay leaves, a natural antimicrobial, to prevent molding.

Crack the acorns. If you don’t have a traditional grinding stone or mortar and pestle, you can improvise by cracking the acorns briskly between a heavy object and a hard surface—say, a piece of firewood or cast-iron skillet against a butcher block. Pick out the nutmeats, discarding any that are moldy.

Acorns must be leached. Eating excessive amounts of tannins contained in raw, unleached acorns can be poisonous for humans.

10/8/2015 12:03:55 AM

ACORN MEAL MADE EASY: I have always soaked my acorns overnight, then peeled the shells off the next day. The fingernails go dark for a day or two, and fingers must be rinsed every 10 acorns or so. (Tannic acid wears away your nails if you don't keep rinsing them.) They peel easily like bananas! No need to work so hard at cracking them. The white acorn center is thrown into a food processor, 30-40 at a time, with enough water for processing. The pureed meal is placed in doubled cheesecloth, laid over a colander. It sits in the sink, and the colander is slowly filled to the top with water. The acorn-slurry slowly drains. Running water is wasteful. Just refill the colander when all the water has drained. Do this 10 times before tasting. If it's bitter, it needs another refill. If it tastes sweet like almonds, you're done! Use the drained, soft meal in bread, fried as a side dish, or even in pancakes. Anywhere you would use ground almonds, use this! It's high in protein and delicious. I taught 4th grade social studies and made Indian fry bread for my classes with this almond meal. Little did I know I had American Indian ancestry until I was almost 40 yrs old!

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