Friday, October 19, 2007

Acorn Soup

I’m going to leave all of the Old Indian lore behind, because the acorns are ripe and the deer are eating them as we speak. We will revisit the Indian history later. I hope you have your acorns gathered, if not, hurry!

I think that I’ve come up with a better method of processing acorns. Whack them with a mallet to open them, or use a pair of pliers if you can’t get the mallet thing going for you. I find it easier to use a mallet though. After you get the nut open, pop the meat out and dump it into water as you are peeling them. If anyone has already dried the nut meats, throw them back into a pan of water and re-soak them, it’s okay because it will remove more of the tannin on the first soaking, but when the nut meat is as sweet as it is this year, skip that step and go right from the shell to the water.

Throw away any wormy meat, or dark fermented meat. The good stuff will be clean and yellowish. You’ll get the hang of it after peeling a few. If there is any skin on the nut, peel it off. With the acorns that I’ve just gathered, the skin has been coming off in the shell, lucky me. They have all been big fat Black-Oak acorns. Let the nutmeat soak over night, and in the morning drain the water off the meat into a plastic jar, and give it to your spinny-weavy type, wool dying, other person that lives in your house. That is the mordent liquid. A mordent will set any dye permanently. The mordent is what she will use for setting the dye in her wool, or all by itself, the tannic solution will set a permanent light tan color in the wool. There is a reason that they call some Oaks Tan Oaks.

After draining, run the meats through a meat grinder with the fine blades in it. Most people have a hand crank grinder. Or, an attachment to the mixer that they can use. Put the acorn grindings into a cotton muslin bag. A pillowslip will work great, or a jelly sack. What ever you use, just accept that tan is its new color, because tannic acid is a mordent, remember? Then place the sack into an equal amount of water, soak over night. Drain and twist the sack to squeeze out most of the water. This draining also serves as a mordent, and should be saved with the first draining. Repeat this process until you are happy with the taste of the acorn meal. Some acorns are sweet and need very little soaking, others are extremely bitter and need lots of cycles. The proof is in the tasting. Some people like the tannin taste, not me.

If you are in a big hurry for your acorn mush. Place your sack of acorn meal in a bowl and poor boiling water into it, let it soak for an hour and repeat the process, until your acorn meal tastes sweet with only a slight after taste.

Another method that sounds promising is to clean the rear tank on your toilet spotlessly clean, and place your sack of meal under the water in there for a couple of weeks. Each time you flush, it will leach out tannin. It will turn the toilet bowl tan from the tannic acid, but can be bleached clean when you are through. I laughed when I heard about this method, but some day I’m going to try it. But, if I do, I’m not going to tell anyone. I’m going to tell a painful tale of how I hand rinsed the meal for days on end. Oh, woe is me!

As Ben said, some Indian people like Tan oak the best. One of my friends says he likes Black Oak, with a few Tan Oak nuts mixed in for flavor, but they are too strong by themselves. Just as I like a handful of Huckleberries baked into my apple pie, and Christina likes a few Merlot grapes mixed in with her Cabernet, and not left on the Oak too long. You will learn what you like.

After you have leached your acorn meal to your tasting, spread it on cookie sheets and place it in a 175 degree oven, or into a food dehydrator until thoroughly dry. Never leave your meal out of fresh water or lying around, it will mold in about two heartbeats.

Once the meal is dry, you can run it through a flour grinder set on fine, if you have one, or you can put it in your blender. (With mixed results) If you have a large stone Indian Grinding Bowl, and a basalt pestol, that’s best. Don’t laugh, a lot of people are using than as ornaments.

To make mush, stir one cup of meal into two cups of boiling water. That’s the way the Indians ate it. Or, if you want to be able to eat it, slice up some smoked venison jerky, and boil it until tender in two cups of chicken stock, then add one cup of meal. Salt and pepper to taste, and you might like a little garlic powder. (I put garlic or my venison jerky, so it doesn’t need any.) a good cook can now go nuts (Pun) trying new ways of using acorn meal. You can use a recipe for corn meal muffins, only replace the corn meal with ACORN meal.

You can use acorn meal with flour in any recipe as a replacement for corn meal. Acorn has no gluten so it won’t work by itself for baking, although the Indians did.

Let me know if you have any success!


Anonymous said...

thanks for the recipe it will be great for my annual fall fest

sequoianelf said...

Hi Ernie - This is the second time we have randomly run across your blog. The first time my husband was interested in flying squirrels, I think it was, and that was an interesting post. That was about a year ago.

We found lots of acorns just fallen while we were out near road 409 gathering chantrelles (got lots of those too). I have been wanting to make acorn bread and acorn soup for a while now.