Making acorn flour

My pals Eric and Julia of Ramshackle Solid made acorn flour this year, and in their blog they showed how they did it.
200810031850Once the flour is dried out it may be a little coarse. You can put it in a cleaned out coffee grinder to get a finer texture. A good food processor also works and I am pretty sure they make attachable gadgets for mixers that really mill the flour if you get completely obsessed.

Our favorite use is acorn pancakes. Just mix the acorn flour 1/2 and 1/2 with wheat or other flour from your favorite recipe. I love the acorn flavor - slightly nutty, very hearty. If you make your own, let us know how it went.

I'm going over there uninvited for pancakes. Link


  1. This is a good sign… I just planted an oak tree *today.* Acorns for the squirrels and acorn pancakes for the people!

  2. Ooh. I was just digging through acorns this weekend trying to remember how to do this. Awesome!

  3. That is cool that the bitterness is leached out. I once read a technique instructing me to hunt for the one in a thousand acorn trees that are naturally not bitter, and then wait 50 years for it’s nuts to grow into acorn-producing trees.

    I planted a lemon tree instead. :D

  4. Do want! Sounds fabulous! I love it when people do creative stuff with what might be considered “wild” foods.

  5. In the American Southwest you can also eat dried mequite beans this way. They also need leaching or blanching or they turn your teeth black- but are super nutritious and are to the southwest what acorns are to everywhere else- one of nature’s greatest freebies.

  6. My mom made those once for my brother and me when we were kids. Neither she, he nor I have ever been tempted to try them again.

    But the idea that there’s a broad flavor spectrum among acorns is interesting. Other fruits and nuts are like that. If you let apple (for example) trees reproduce sexually, most of the offspring will bear bitter fruit. A few happy mutants will bear sweet fruit. You take cuttings from those and graft them to whatever root stock grows well in your neighborhood. Asexual propagation: No need to wait fifty years.

    When you find the one oak in a thousand, take a cutting and send it to me. I’ll give the pancakes another try.

  7. How timely! I was noticing today that it’s acorn time and thought about looking up a good how-to.

    Bay nuts should be coming on soon, too…

  8. I can’t help but be reminded of Jean Hegland’s post-apocalyptic book Into the Forest, in which the main characters lived largely off acorns–from which they painstakingly leached the bitter tannins. I always wondered if that were possible–you know, when the great confluence of events (wars, natural disasters, epidemics, and, oh–economic crisis) sends us all into the woods to forage for food. It’s somehow reassuring to know that it is.

  9. I had heard about the need to pre-boil acorns.

    The first time I harvested some (in Manitoba) they were sweet and tasty. Among other things, I used them in bird stuffing.
    Can’t remember if it was a bur oak (the only native species there) though I have read that some oaks (white oak) have sweeter acorns.

  10. That really is awesome, I kinda of wish there were acorn trees around Vegas. Heh, I’ve never actually seen an acorn IRL.

    However! We do have a ton of pine trees up at Mt. Charleston. My sister and I will go up there go looking on the ground for pine cones – to pull the pine nuts out.

    I think it’s more of a native thing to do – because really, who thinks to do that stuff in the Vegas area?

    My grandparents always ask when we’re going to get more. It only take about an hour of rummaging to get a huge bag full of them.

  11. SSwaan,
    it reminded me of “My Side of the Mountain”, but the book you mention sounds like it might be a good read as well.

  12. We’ve been experimenting here too. We learned from Euell Gibbons’ book Stalking the Wild Asparagus (ISBN: 0-679-50223-4) that you have to boil a batch of typical astringent, bitter acorns for 2 hours, with many changes of water. Yow! And from the more useful–and probably still in print–Edible and Useful Plants of Texas and the Southwest: A Practical Guide by Delena Tull (ISBN 13: 978-0-292-78164-1), we learned that native peoples in our region just put the acorns in a basket, then sunk the basket in a fast-moving stream for a few days to do the same work.

    Uh, except that we’ve had a series of droughts here in central Texas, and I haven’t seen any kind of stream around here for months. The weather gods are very very angry with us.

    Tull’s book is worth a look, esp. since she tests everything herself before writing it up as actually useful or tasty. She’s got plenty to say about plants for dye, soap, fiber (weaving), as well as the food/tea/spices angle.

    And brown acorns, people! The brown ones are for eating. Not green. [sigh] Don’t ask.

  13. The sweet acorn-producing oak tree is much more prevalent in Europe. Still, nice to know that it can be done with the more commonly found acorns.

  14. We have pecan trees. Tall pecan trees drop those little missiles onto car hoods and noggins, making dents in each.

  15. Pecan trees are the best. We will be planting some of those soon. They produce like crazy and there is absolutely no prep required. Well, you have to crack the shell.

    There is an 80+ year old man who lives up the street and he sells big bags of pecans for 5 dollars. He basically just picks them up off his lawn.

    Then my inlaws planted several last year, bought from Home Depot, I’m pretty sure. They are already producing. Nut trees, people. It’s all about the nut trees.

  16. Lots of acorns around in the UK right now. Must try this.

    I’ve eated squirrel at St John’s modern british restaurant in London. Very tasty (and expensive). It came with a slice of toast with some sort of pate on. I asked the waitress and she said in her French accent “Eet ees the Entrails”.

    It was yummy.

  17. Peterson’s field guides are quite good too, and cover the entire continent. They do use the American vernacular though (took me a while to figure out that serviceberries were actually saskatoons – who knew?).
    They have an edible wild plands and a medicinal plant version.

    Even though there’s no chance our population could be supported by foraging, it’s amazing how many noxious weeds (pigweed, nettles, dandelion, burdock, poorman’s pepper) are actually nutritious and tasty foods.

    I’m just guessing, but you might want to keep that acorn flour in cold storage. As a nut rather than a grain there is probably more of a chance of it going rancid over time.

  18. I haven’t tried it myself yet, but I’ve been told by someone who gave me some acorn bread once that a good way to rinse tannins out of the acorns is (after shelling) to put them in a pillowcase and stick them in a toilet tank for a week or so. Remember it’s clean water in there and it gets changed regularly every day. It simulates the way native Americans used wicker baskets in streams to rinse their acorns.

    Speaking of which, I’ve been thinking that we need a new “American Fusion” cuisine that would take the sustainable, native plants that grow wild all around us and use them with spices and tastes from around the world. Traditional acorn mush doesn’t sound so appealing as a staple food, but add some curry powders or ginger and soy sauce, or some paprika, etc. and you would get a fusion cuisine that uses much less energy and resources than the current staples we rely on (wheat, etc.)

  19. Greenpeaches – Me too! What an incredible, heart-wrenching, prescient book. Almost too painful to read, yet I couldn’t put it down.

  20. Mom always fried squirrel with I believe just a light flour coating. Red squirrels were preferred over the grey, more meat if I remember correctly. I liked the squirrel better than the raccoon.

  21. @13: The Tull book is one of my most prized possessions. Its knowledge has garnered me tasty treats and an appreciable jot of respect among gardeners, hippies, sustainable-living proponents, and others here in Texas. Tull’s book is responsible for my love of mesquite pods, wild onions, and sorrel, among others.
    [runs off to propagate wild edibles in her garden]

  22. I live in the Bay Area. The native Americans around here used to make acorn flower, grinding the acorns on large exposed boulders. You can still find these “mortars” in the hills around Vallejo and Vacaville.

    I’ve never had acorn pancakes, but I’d love to try them. Although the whole boiling acorns for hours thing seems a little too labor and energy intensive for my tastes.

  23. See also _Oak: The Frame of Civilization_ by William Bryant Logan.

    I’ve made some acorn-flour stuff; if you chop or grind them very coarsely, you can leach them in a day or so (a few changes of water). Then dry them and grind them into flour.

  24. I’ve always heard live oaks and white oaks are better than red oaks, because of the tannins.

    I tried making some acorn flour once, but didn’t remove enough of the tannins before I used it.

    I do love chestnut pancakes, though.

  25. #10 and #32: Good to know that about white oaks. We have a couple of old and gigantic Quercus alba at the bottom of our property. Maybe I’ll try collecting some acorns.

    My foraging this autumn has involved a wild persimmon tree that I discovered near my workplace. Persimmon bread: Yum!

  26. I did it to earn a badge in cub scouts about a hundred years ago. Once was enough. leave the acorns for the wildlife.

  27. The acorns of the white oak (their leaves have rounded “points” while red and black oaks have “sharper” points) have less tannins than the red and black oaks. This requires less work in leaching out the bitterness if using a hot water wash.
    Note: as acorns dry they change from a nice white to a cocoa brown so don’t sweat it!
    Method 1:
    1.Crack and shell your acorns.
    2.Put shelled acorns into a blender and blend until most pieces are are about the size of a popcorn kernel or smaller.
    3.Place acorn bits in a bowl large enough to allow water to cover by about 3 inches and pour in boiling water.
    4. Let sit 5 minutes or more, meanwhile boil more water.
    5. Pour off the dark brown water from the acorns and immediately add more boiling water.
    6. Repeat until the acorns have lost their bitter taste.
    7.Drain a last time and pour acorn bits into a cloth and wring out most of the moisture.
    8.Spread out the bits on a cookie sheet and dry in oven at 175 or 200 F. They should get so dry that chewing them is like chewing on rocks.
    9. Return to the blender to attain a finer grind.
    10. A grinding mill, (easily and cheaply found used at tag sails etc) will turn out a really great flour, smooth and familiar.

    Method 2:
    Place shelled acorns in a mesh bag and anchor it in a rapidly flowing section a stream. Check progress in a few days with a taste test.
    Roast and grind.
    Happy hunting.

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