Archive for January 27th, 2011

Aw Nuts!

Ever hear the saying “From soup to nuts?” well this is close.  Today the kids and I went nut gathering along our property edges and out in our woods. Acorn nuts to be exact.  This is a small amount of the pail worth we gathered.  From those nuts came that flour, and from that flour will come some delicious bread and a thickener for gravies and soups.

Acorns long have been a food staple of the Native people in North America and Canada. Not only in turning it into flour, but also in roasting the nuts and grinding them up to make a coffee like beverage, or eating the nuts just as nuts.

Today allowed me not only to teach my children that nature provides for us, but also about the way our ancestors survived without local grocery store shelves or even gardens.

To make acorns edible takes a bit of work.

First you need to crack the acorns and remove the “nut”, a traditional nut cracker works fine for this.

Second you need to boil them in hot water, drain the water, and repeat the process three times to remove the bitter tannin.  This process will also remove any stubborn caps that won’t release.  (I personally save the water I drain off , at end of this post I’ll tell you why.)

Once you have expelled the tannin, take your boiled nuts and place them in a food processor, blender or food mill.  I use a food processor at the finest setting to get it as close to a flour texture as possible.  It will make at this point a paste, that is ok.  Spread the paste onto cookie sheets in thin layers and put in your oven to dehydrate.  You want the temperature around 150 degrees inside the oven for this process. My own oven does not go below 200, but I find by cracking the door open with a wooden spoon handle stuck in top, the temperature inside stays close to 150.   Dry for 2 hours upwards of 4 hours.  When you finish you want a solid “brick” that crumbles.

Return this dried brick to your food processor or blender and grind to flour like consistency. Don’t fret if all your flour is not uniformed.  At this point your acorn flour can be stored in airtight containers or baggies, or you can make it into a number of delicious foods.

Acorn Bread or Muffins

2 cups acorn meal

2 cups wheat flour

1/2 cup milk

3 tbsp butter or olive oil

1 tbsp baking powder

1 egg

1/2 cup honey OR maple syrup.

Combine all ingredients and pour into loaf pan.  Bake 400 degrees for 30 minutes for bread, 20 for muffins.

Indian Acorn Griddle Cakes

2 cups acorn meal

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup water

Combine into stiff batter and let sit one hour.  Fry on oiled griddle and cook like pancakes.  Serve with honey.

Pioneer Acorn Griddle Cakes

1 cup acorn meal

3 tbsp baking powder

1 cup flour

3 tbsp oil

1 tsp salt

1 1/4 cup milk

2 eggs

Mix into batter and cook on hot greased skillet.  Serve with butter, syrup, jam, or honey.

Acorn Flatbread

2 cups acorn meal

3/4 cup flour

2 tsp salt

water enough to make stiff dough.

Mix together to form stiff dough, let sit 30 minutes.  Squeeze into small balls and press each ball into a thin flat cake.  Fry on light greased skillet until brown on both sides.

Acorn Cookies

2 cups wheat flour

1 cup brown sugar (or white)

1 tsp baking powder

1 cup acorn meal

1/2 cup butter (or shortening but you know how I feel about that stuff.)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine ingredients keeping butter and sugar separate. Cream butter and sugar before adding to rest.  Pinch off walnut size pieces of dough and roll into balls.  Place 1 1/2 inches apart on lightly greased baking sheet.  Bake 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden.  Transfer to rack to cool.

A delicious topping for this is confectioner sugar icing flavored with maple syrup or honey.

Now, about that brown water you boiled the acorns in.  It is useful to ease comfort of rashes, burns and small cuts.  Also for poison ivy blisters when froze in ice cube tray and held on wounds.  The cold ice fusion also helps to soothe inflamed tissues.

If you are a hunter that likes to preserve your own animal hide.  The Tannic Acid is used for that very purpose.  To use, soak the clean, scraped animal hides in the brown water to cure.

The brown water also is useful to dye white and lighter colored fabrics, card stock, cross-stitch fabrics, etc.  It takes on a tan coloration which makes for a “old” look.

All that said, I bet you won’t pass a oak tree the same way again.



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