Acorns are a coming..

We regularly discuss the many merits of utilising this valuable food source on our foraging courses and this blog only aims to give you a few hints you may find useful when collecting and processing this autumn.

1Acorns shelled and force dried.

Make sure you are ready for what looks to be a far better harvest of Acorns this season compared to the last which (in most of our woodlands anyway) was an almost complete failure! Acorns can be collected on mass and force dried before storing in air tight containers to buy you some time in having to process them.

2Keep an eagle eye out for Acorn Weevil holes!

3Not as bad as finding half a Weevil in your acorn…

4Thought id ‘leaf’ these two alone!!

An occupational hazard of collecting acorns is collecting Acorn Weevils…keep an eye out and do your best to leave any with tiny black holes. A good trick on getting your harvest home is to chuck everything in a sink of cold water to see if any acorns float – a high percentage of those that do have had a munching by Weevils – discard.

6Weevil house boats.

If you come across any acorns making a bid to spend the next 200 – 600 years growing up to make little acorns of their own one day, best to let them crack on in the leaf litter.

5Germinating acorn – start of a long journey!

Once you’ve collected your acorns you should start thinking about drying them – easily done in the woods round the fire… or at home:

7On the stove.

8On the radiator.

9On the dash.

With your dried and shelled acorns you can begin grinding to produce a rough flour, useful for all sorts of recipes. You might want to consider using something more ‘industrial’ (brick and concrete floor…?) than a small food processor as it will both blunt the blades and burn the motor out!

10Acorns v’s somebody else’s food processor.

On a serious note keep your eyes shelled for the old Victorian style food mills that you can mount to a kitchen work top – hand operated, iron cast, indestructible and if they are a little beat up the blades can be re shaped on a bench grinder – A-team style.  Another option is to food process  the acorns before drying whilst they are still comparatively soft..

As you would expect with something as valuable as acorn flour there are many ways to process it but one of the common themes is attempting to reduce the tannin content and so the bitterness. You can choose to boil the acorns before processing or after, where they will have a dramatically increased surface area and so theoretically you should get out more tannin more quickly.

In reality you can boil and swap water all day on these little treasures and still get a black tea coloured solution…hint to any primitive reader here: don’t chuck the tea away store it for use on any veg tan hides you may want to try 🙂

11Acorns boiled whole

12Acorns boiled up after milling.

Grading your ground up acorn is as simple as passing the dried grit through a sieve – anything that doesn’t fit should be persuaded to be smaller with a lump hammer or similar before being gently encouraged back through the sieve. Your collected acorn powder is then ready for storing in any air tight container – Kilner jars being particularly well suited.

13Sieving acorn grit.

Finally you get to enjoy the fruits of all your labour guilt free if you opt for the coffee, as you’d expect acorns are naturally caffeine free – if you haven’t tried it yet get it on your to do list for this autumn, you wont be disappointed with the rich coffee like flavour of the roasted ground acorn meal.

14Acorn coffee.

Adam Logan – Instructor for Woodland Ways.



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