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Edible acorns

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

Shelled acorns
Shell your acorns first (Photo: Alamy)

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
Fancy a coffee? (Photo: Alamy)

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

Method:

  • 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

Stew

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

Acorn flour
Show us your bakes (Photo: Alamy)

  • 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

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