Acorn Recipes – by Loba

Loba’s Canyon Acorn Recipes

It’s amazing how fast it happens– how the acorns grow and ripen, and fall in the canyon every time the wind blows, raining down on us as we gather. We become like squirrels, or bears, or more like the primal humans we once were.  For once upon a time, our kind watched the trees carefully and made use of the season’s gifts. Our hands moved instinctively, quickly through the fallen leaves, finding the choicest nuts, as they do now, at this special time of abundance. Harvesting and cooking with acorns makes me feel connected, in my body, and makes my spirit sing. It feels almost like sitting up around a fire, watching the stars move across the sky, breathing smoke. It’s food for the deepest reaches of my soul. And that’s even before getting to eat them!

On Harvesting and Processing Acorns:
Get to know your oak trees, and try the acorns from all the different species that you’re able to harvest from, as some will be far sweeter than others. After you’ve harvested your acorns, try roasting some in a 300 degree oven till the nut becomes light to medium brown and is still slightly soft, and taste.  If they taste good, the nuts can be used just like regular nuts in any recipe if you use them right away. For longer storage, roast them a little longer, till they get hard and dark brown, and grind them to use in any recipe that has ground nuts. You can store ROASTED acorns in their shells for a long period of time if you put them in plastic jugs with a bunch of holes poked into the top of the containers. This will keep them from getting moldy.  If they taste unpleasantly astringent or bitter, boil them for two hours, “changing the water every time it becomes tea-colored” (from Euell Gibbons’ Stalking the Wild Asparagus). If you decide to boil them, roast them AFTER they’re boiled, then grind.  The traditional way to “leach” acorns (processing out the astringency) was to put them in a cloth sack in a river and leave them there for a day or so with a weight on the sack.  So if you have a river handy, you might want to try that! To grind them into meal, use a coffee or a grain grinder, or a metate! I haven’t tried a food processor, that might work too.
I like to use acorns in any bread recipe where its flavor will stand out. It works very well with cornmeal, in cornbread or tortillas. I love to mix it with wheat, barley, or spelt flour in breads and muffins, cakes and cookies. I also like to put it in stews and soups, like onion soup, and in any creamy chowder. But I have to confess, at least a third of our yearly acorn supply goes to making chocolatey acorn things! We chop up fresh roasted (still half-way soft) acorns and roll fudge brownies in them, we put them in homemade chocolate truffles, and we make this heavenly little cake, most of all!

Chocolate Acorn Cake

1 cup mashed bananas, or applesauce
2 eggs
1/3 cup pure maple syrup or honey
1/3 cup butter or coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup acorn meal
1/3 cup dutch process cocoa
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder

Combine all the wet ingredients with a whisk or a fork. Sift together all the dry ingredients except the acorn meal. Stir everything together, them add the acorn meal and stir. Pour into a greased 8” cake pan and bake at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes. Start checking it at about 20 minutes to see how it’s doing. Remove from the oven when the middle of the cake has just begun to firm up, but is a little less than solid. Try not to overcook it. If you do, douse it with a little Kahlua, or top it with the following ganache, and all will be well.

Acorn Ganache

This is so fantastic, with the preceeding cake, or on any regular chocolate cake or banana cake. It’s also very delicious on its own, or served with fresh pears, coconut, or baked apples, fresh dates, or what have you. Feel free to play with it and make your own variations!

6 tablespoons acorn meal
3-4 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons pure cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup water

Stir all ingredients together in a small pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until well thickened. Be careful not to burn it! Enjoy!
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Love, Loba

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