Acorns are the favourite dish of many woodland creatures. Mice, squirrels and even some birds forage for these nutty treats during autumn, storing them away for winter. But did you know that humans can eat acorns as well?
Before you run out to your nearest oak tree, it’s important to remember that acorns can’t be eaten raw. Green or unripe acorns are not suitable to eat, so you need to wait until they turn brown.
Once they’re ripe, they should be treated before you start munching, as they contain tannins which can be toxic to humans and cause an unpleasant bitter taste. You’ll need to leach the acorns to remove the tannin. There are two methods for leaching; you can choose your method depending on what you want to do with the acorns afterwards.
Hot water leaching
If you wish to keep your acorns whole, or at least chunky, you can leach them with hot water.
First, shell your acorns. This can be fiddly and some people say if you freeze them first, or use acorns collected in previous years, it is easier to prise the shells off
Soak the shelled acorns in boiling water
Once the water turns brown, pour it off and soak again in fresh hot boiling water
Repeat this process until the water is clear
Roasted acorns recipe
For those who enjoy a savoury snack, salted nuts are the perfect choice. Roasting is probably the easiest way to cook acorns.
After leaching, place the damp chunks onto a baking tray and sprinkle with salt
Toast for 15-20 mins on a high heat
When the colour starts to darken, they’re ready
Cool and consume!
Acorn coffee recipe
Acorn coffee is naturally caffeine free. It has a unique taste and is unlike traditional coffee, but it’s still delicious and warming.
Once your acorns are leached lay them out in an ovenproof dish and roast on a low heat to dry slowly – this should take 1 ½ to 2 hours.
Move the acorns around the dish regularly to stop them catching
The acorns will start to turn brown as they dry, you can choose whether you want a light or dark roast
Once roasted to your preference, remove the acorns and cool
Grind and enjoy!
Acorn brittle recipe
It’s an American classic that satisfies any sweet tooth. The principle is the same as peanut brittle, but you just add acorns instead!
You will need:
100g caster sugar
100g leached, roasted acorns
Tip the caster sugar into a saucepan over a low heat
The sugar will start to melt, shake the pan ever so slightly as it does
As the sugar starts to clump together it’ll go translucent and then eventually a caramel colour
When it turns dark brown add your acorns and stir gently
Remove from the heat and pour into a baking tray, lined with greaseproof paper
Leave to cool and harden at room temperature
There’s nothing better than a hearty stew on a cold evening. Add a bit of bite to your usual winter warmer by popping some roasted acorns into the pot.
Cold water leaching
Acorns can be ground to make flour which you can use to cook bread, pancakes, pastries, cookies and even pasta. To make the flour it is best to leach your acorns with cold water as this preserves the starch meaning the dough will hold together better.
Acorn flour recipe
Crack and shell your acorns. Shelled acorns turn a dark colour easily when exposed to the open air, so some people prefer to shell straight into a bowl of water to preserve the light colour for their flour
Grind, blitz or chop your shelled acorns into small pieces and cover with cold water. Leave the mixture in a bowl or jar and change the cold water every day. The acorns are fully leached when the bitterness is gone, this usually takes a few days
Dry the mix by straining through a cheesecloth or muslin over a bowl. Gather the cloth and squeeze to extract the water. Discard the liquid
Tip the damp flour from the cloth onto a baking tray and put in the oven on a low heat to dry – this could take a couple of hours
Once dry, blitz the acorns in a food blender to create a fine floury powder
Store in the fridge or freezer
You can use the flour exactly as you use ordinary wheat flour in baking or cooking