Acorns are extremely nutritious and readily available to most, making them a healthy and convenient addition to many recipes. Here’s how to prepare and cook acorns!
Where and When to Find Acorns
Acorns come from oak trees and can be found across North America. They are typically “harvested” between September and November, when they fall from the trees and become easily accessible to deer, squirrels, and resourceful humans. When gathering acorns, look for ones that still have their caps, as those without are more susceptible to infestation by worms and other critters.
How to Prepare Acorns
- Start by giving your acorns a quick rinse in cool water. Place them in a pot or bowl and fill it with water, then remove and dispose of any floating acorns, as they have likely gone bad.
- Place the acorns in a colander and run them under the tap for a minute or two to dislodge any loose dirt or hitchhiking bugs.
- Set the colander aside to let the acorns air-dry, or simply dry them by hand with a dish towel.
- Remove the shells and caps from your acorns with a nutcracker (or a hammer, if necessary). Acorns can be tough nuts to crack!
Warning: All acorns contain bitter and irritating organic substances called tannins, which must be leached out before the nuts can be eaten. Tannins can cause nausea and constipation when consumed, but don’t worry—with a little patience and preparation, tannins are easily removed.
How to Remove Tannins from Acorns
- Start two pots of water boiling. Drop the raw, shell-less acorns into one pot and boil until the water is the color of strong tea.
- Strain the nuts through a colander and drop the strained nuts into the second pot of boiling water. Discard the dark water from the first pot, then refill it and bring the water to a boil again.
- Repeat the process without interruption (do not let the acorns cool) until the water boils clear. This may take an hour or more, depending on the variety of acorn.
- Alternatively, you can soak the raw acorns in cold water to leach the tannins out. Change the water when it turns a darker color. This process may take several days, depending on how long it takes for all the tannins to leach out of the acorn meat.
How to Grind Acorns for Cooking
- Spread tannin-free acorns to dry on cookie sheets in a warm place. When partially dry, coarse grind a few acorns at a time in a blender.
- Spread the ground acorns to dry on cookie sheets, then grind again in a blender.
- Repeat until you are left with a flour- or cornmeal-like substance.
Acorn Pancakes Recipe
Once you have prepared your acorns, try them in this recipe adapted from Sharon Hendricks. Source: Texas A&M University AgriLife Extension
- One egg
- 1 tsp. salad oil
- 1 tsp. honey or sugar
- ½ cup leached and ground acorns
- ½ cup cornmeal
- ½ cup whole wheat or white flour
- 2 tsp. double action baking powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ cup milk
Break egg into bowl and add all ingredients, beating to create a batter. If batter is too thick, thin with additional milk. Pour batter onto hot, greased griddle and cook slowly until brown. Flip to brown opposite side. Serve with butter and syrup or jam—and enjoy!