Nuts

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balzaccom
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Nuts

Post by balzaccom » Wed Nov 11, 2020 8:33 pm

It has been a crazy year in so many ways, but 2020 will also go down as a great year for acorns. At least, it was a great year for the trees around our cabin above Sonora. There were tons of acorns, and they were huge.

(A big year like this is called a "mast year." The collective term for fruits and nuts is mast...so a big year is a mast year.)

And with very little else to occupy us during the COVID year, I decided it was time to collect the acorns and see what we could do with them. And I got quite a few nuts, just off our small property there. About six gallons of acorns.

Image

As you can see, they were nice and fat.

So I watched a few ballgames and shelled acorns. At least, I shelled some of them.

And then the experiments began. Like olives, acorns on their own are stunningly bitter and tannic. You can't eat them, so you have treat them in some way to get rid of all that bitterness.

We tried leaching them whole for days (NOT successful.) and then grinding them up in a food processor and leaching them cold for days (also NOT successful.) We finally tried leaching the chopped up acorn meal in very hot (almost boiling water) and changing the water every ten minutes or so for about an hour and a half...and that worked!

Interestingly enough, as they boiled, they began to smell like porcini mushrooms. How cool is that?!?

So then we dried the acorns in the oven, so they looked like this:

Image

And that's what we've been adding to various recipes for the last few days. I added some to my granola in the morning...eh. And M added some to her homemade bread, which was pretty good. But then M cooked up a risotto with porcinis and these acorns, and added a little ham, and it was heaven!

We have a lot of these, and that bucket is still full, so lots more to come. But in the meantime we are having great fun experimenting with free food.


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The Other Tom
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Re: Nuts

Post by The Other Tom » Thu Nov 12, 2020 6:51 am

Thanks for posting. I remember hearing the Ahwahnechee that lived in Yosemite valley would harvest acorns and make flour out of them. I don't remember the leaching process they used but maybe you can find it on the 'net.

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Re: Nuts

Post by balzaccom » Thu Nov 12, 2020 7:34 am

Oh--we've researched that quite a bit. Mainly grinding them into meal or flour and then leaching them. Many Native Americans did this in sand basins by the river, before cooking the meal into mush with hot rocks placed in baskets.
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Re: Nuts

Post by RSC » Thu Nov 12, 2020 10:21 am

Quite a haul! Black oak acorns, right? I think they are supposed to be the best of the local acorns.

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MountainMinstrel
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Re: Nuts

Post by MountainMinstrel » Sun Nov 15, 2020 1:26 pm

An abundance of acorns is also an indication of a rough winter.
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Re: Nuts

Post by balzaccom » Mon Nov 16, 2020 6:12 pm

We have enough acorns to last us for most the winter, so we're exploring more uses for them. Over the years, M has played around with making nocino--that bitter Italian aperitif that goes by such commercial names as Averna, etc.

The secret to making this stuff is to start with something bitter (she's used green walnuts in the past) and then add Everclear hard alcohol, a few more herbs and spices, and then some simple syrup to balance out the bitterness. When it's all done, you add water to lighten it up, and you are good to go.

So now we are going to make some from the acorns--they're certainly bitter enough. Homespun nocino, with local products. And we went into two different liquor stores in Napa to buy the Everclear. The first store didn't have any, but the only other customer in the store knew about all about it, used it for lemoncello, and directed us to the second liquor store.

The second liquor store had it, but we had to wait a little bit for another customer to ask about it...because he was making another type of liqueur, and also needed Everclear. And he offered us a few suggestions...

Gotta love living in Wine Country.
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