Starting in September and continuing for a month or more, all night long the rat-a-tat of acorn pellets echoes through the driveway and yard. The noise happens during the day as well, but it's not quite as annoying. The sound of an acorn being shoved off a tree by a squirrel or bird and the subsequent 30 foot fall onto the top of a metal vehicle in the middle of the night makes a sound akin to a mini firecracker. Kapow! Kaboom! Those stupid acorns are useless!!! Or are they?
This year I decided to try something a little different, and I researched ways to use acorns. With thousands of them laying around on the ground, there has to be something useful to do with them besides cursing them out. So, I did some investigating into potential uses and here's what I tried this weekend...
To start, I collected a few hundred acorns. I picked the ones with no cap that were a dark brown color and whole. Anything that looked smushed or perhaps buggy I left alone. The acorns I picked were from white oak trees.
Then I opened each and every acorn, peeling the outside cover off, and I was left with a bowl of nutty looking pieces as seen in the second picture above. This was quite time consuming and I wondered if the end result would be worth it, but once I started, I was a woman on a mission.
The next step was to leach the tannins out of the acorns. If this isn't done, they are supposed to taste bitter and upset your stomach and intestinal tract. I didn't try a non-leached one, so I don't know if that's true, but I wasn't taking any chances. So I put the acorns in a big pot of water, brought it to a boil and when the water turned dark brown, I dumped the water out. Then I started with fresh water and kept boiling and dumping until the water stayed clean.
And then I baked them in a 300 degree oven for about a half hour or so to dry them out. If it's nice outside, you're supposed to lay them in the sun to dry, but it was rainy so I just baked the water out of them. Then I threw them in a food processor and wound up with an acorn meal/flour substance as can be seen in the picture on the right.
Now I can use this acorn flour to make pancakes, bread, acorn cake, and more. My first attempt at making something edible was to make acorn bread. I found a recipe online which consisted of acorn meal, a smaller dose of regular flour, honey, egg, milk, butter and baking powder. I made this today and when it was done, I carefully tasted it. What would those nasty sounding acorns actually taste like?
I toasted my first piece, added a small amount of butter on top and very carefully tasted. The bread was the consistency of a dense banana bread, and it tasted a little nutty. I found it quite enjoyable, especially my second piece when I added jelly.
So, there you have it! I have found a reason to actually look forward to the crashing of the acorns next year. It means we have a free source of carbohydrates/starches that can be used to supplement our regular diet. I wonder how it would taste in pizza dough. Hmmm, maybe I'll wait till next year to try that one.