Acorn Power

illustrated by @aguabel

I still remember the first time I ate acorns.

They were cooked by the ember in this huge fireplace of traditional Alentejo/South Portuguese houses and tasted just like the most delicious freshly baked cookies I ever ate – sweet, slightly toasted with a nutty unique aftertaste. Hmmmmm.

This magical moment awakened my fascination for this very special superfood, and my journey with the acorn began.

Soon after, people of my neighbourhood called me „Mister Acorn“, as I used to sell acorn cookies & chai at the local markets and also distributed acorn flour to the closeby well known ecovillage Tamera.

I began to understand the huge potential of the oaks and asked myself, why in the world did humans stop to eat them?

Many indigenous tribes, including those of Europe, used acornst as a wild food source. 

What we have discovered so far is that during the Roman invasions, they changed the mind of the people, when they started saying that acorns are “food for the poor” and brought grains to cultivate annually. 

This has changed the food habits and culture of the native tribes of Iberian Peninsula. Still it is widely believed that acorns are poisonous and just for the pigs.

Very few rural populations kept eating acorns since then.

But to be honest, when I think about all the intensive labour and genetic modifications behind annual grain cultivation I much prefer to be fed by acorns! 

We can’t even compare the amount of nutrients of acorns compared to those annual crops like wheat.
The cultivation of grains is also a big factor of pollution, soil depletion and a big range of modern diseases including as it weakens our immune system, which for example causes allergies.

(Isabel’s life changed after she stopped eating wheat, as all her strong allergies disappeared)

“Acorns are not a food from the past either of the future but from the present.”

Diogo Quaresma

Acorns, on the other hand, are rich in nutrients such as protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals and also contain antioxidants and are anti-inflammatory.

Acorns are traditionally divided into just two types – sweet and bitter. 

However, despite the amount of tannins varying from one acorn to another, all types of acorn are edible if the tannins are eliminated or neutralized. 

The sweetest acorns can be eaten directly raw, roasted or boiled.

How to remove the tannins?

1a- Soak them in cold water for about 10 days. (change water everyday)
1b- Soak them in the river (or other running water source) using a box or a net for about 5 days.
2- Dry them in the oven (max. 120ºc) or under the embers of a wooden stove until they become like stone.
3- Peel them
4a – Grind them dry on a strong mixer or ask at the closest mill. (ideal for storage)
4b – Grind them after soaking overnight. (ideal for fresh use)

The best acorns we have tasted so far are the ones from the Stone Oak (Quercus ilex) which grows in the south Portugal and Spain. 

Some of those trees produce sweet acorns whose taste can be compared with chestnuts.

They can become hundreds of years old with incredibly wide canopies and their trunks are thick with wood as hard as stone. 

Once the acorns start falling you have to be fast, as they are likely to be bitten by worms if they stay on the ground for too long. (Especially if it rains.)

It’s a “hard” job to collect them and process them by yourself and probably it’s why people are not so excited about it anymore. 

Buuut, it is a lot of fun to organize a group of friends or a community and make a harvest together. From our experience children are most enthusiastic about it.

It’s really impressive what one tree can produce. 

Nutritious food for all year, totally for free, 100 % ecologic and CO2 neutral! Let´s go for it!!!

There are too many reasons why we are encouraging everybody to start integrating acorns into their diet.

Our vision is to settle in a place close to an oak forest and install manual equipment to process the acorns.

The idea is to have the acorn as a main annual crop and be able to share some flour with family and friends.

The acorns somehow are a portal for us to connect with our ancestors and the ancient way of living.

There is great joy for us to prepare them at home and then after all the work invite friends to share a meal.

We have had beautiful experiences making acorn coffee, cookies and musli granola.

 Isabel loves to bake acorn bread. Here is a recipe for you to try:

– 500g Rye Flour (Best results you get if you make a sourdough, but this takes some more time and skills) 

– 500g Acorn Flour (If you don’t have acorn flour you can simply soak acorns overnight (or longer if they are still bitter, don´t forget to change the water) and then process them in a high speed blender with fresh water. It works perfect with the Nutribullet)

– 25g Yeast

– Salt, Coriander Seeds, Caraway Seeds

Mix the yeast with lukewarm water until dissolved, add salt and seeds, then the flour and knead it until a consistent dough.If you made your acorn dough in the blender, you might not need to add any more water, otherwise the dough gets too liquid) 

Let it rest for 30 minutes.

Form your bread loaf and let it rest for 2 more hours in a warm place.
Then bake it – First 30 minutes about 220 degrees, then reduce to 180 for more 45 min. (Keep checking the bread, when it seems hard and sounds hollow, it is ready).
Let it rest for a few hours before you enjoy it.

We really hope to inspire you to make your own experiments and share with other friends as well. Have fun!

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