Eating Acorns: 60+ Acorn Recipes from Around the World (2024)

Acorns are an abundant wild food source around the world, and a single tree can produce more than 2,000 pounds of nuts. Rich in calories and micronutrients, eating acorns was once a part of life for humans everywhere that oaks grow.

While these days acorn recipes are mostly associated with Native Americans, they were a part of the traditional food supply in Greece, Italy, Spain, North Africa and throughout Asia. Oaks continue to produce abundant nutrition for humankind, even if we’ve largely forgotten how to harvest and prepare this free food source.

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This year, my family made it our mission to collect and process as many acorns as possible. We’d just learned that there are tribes in California that obtained 50% of their yearly calories from acorns, and with such an abundant free food source around, why not use it?

I’d planned on developing recipes for all our favorite foods using acorn flour, but when I started researching acorn recipes I learned that I was trying to rediscover the wheel. Humans have been eating acorns since the stone age, and just about every culture has traditional recipes for acorns.

The earliest evidence of humans eating acorns comes from an archeological site near the dead sea dated to around 750,000 BC. Similar sites exist in North America, Africa, Spain, Italy, Central Europe, Japan, and the Middle East. (Source)

Acorn oil is still produced in the middle east, and an Arabian acorn-based drink was what eventually became modern hot cocoa. Acorn-based foods are produced commercially in Korea, for a savory tofu-like acorn gel and acorn udon noodles.

In Spain, they still produce a popular acorn liqueur, and modern Spanish restaurants are experiencing what some writers call a renaissance of the acorn where it’s making its way into fancy restaurants and haute cuisine.

The Romans were eating acorns at the peak of their civilization, and native American tribes in the western US still process acorns using traditional methods.

Eating acorns is a part of our history as a species, reaching to all parts of the globe. While we may have forgotten this part of our culinary history, the acorns are still out there waiting for harvest…

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My own homemade acorn flour

Basics of Eating Acorns

Acorns are technically a nut, but more varieties are starchy and low in both oil and protein. They also contain tannins, which are not only unpalatable, they’re also anti-nutrients and they bind up minerals within your body. The tannins must be leached from the acorns prior to consumption.

That means they’re most commonly ground into flour, which increases their surface area for faster tanning leaching and leaves a starchy, flour-like food that can be used for baking.

Types of Acorns

There are hundreds of species of oak trees around the world, and each will have a different nutritional profile. Some are higher in oil, tannins or micronutrients than others. While a few species are recorded, there’s been surprisingly little research into the nutrition inside acorns because they’re not a common food crop in the modern world.

Oak trees, for the most part, come in two groups. White oaks and Red/Black oaks. There are a number of differences between the two groups, but the main one if you’re interested in eating acorns is that white oak acorns germinate in the fall, while red oak acorns overwinter and germinate in the spring.

That means that you’ll need to collect and process white acorn varieties earlier in the season, while red acorn varieties can be collected all winter. The easiest way to tell the groups apart is by their leaves, and white oaks tend to have rounded leaf tips, while red oak varieties have pointed lobes.

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Leaves of oak trees in the white oak group have rounded lobes (left), while the red oak group has pointed lobes (right).

There’s a common misconception that white acorns are “sweet” acorns and contain fewer tannins. That’s not correct, and every acorn species will have slightly different tannin levels, white oak or otherwise. Some of the highest tannin levels found in any acorn are found in white oaks, so that’s not exactly a hard and fast rule.

There’s also some evidence that white acorns may have compounds present that make effective leaching more difficult, and even those varieties lower in tannins may actually take longer to properly leach.

In general, the best acorns for eating are the largest acorns that you have readily available, ones that you can collect quickly and efficiently.

Leaching Acorns

There are two main methods for leaching acorns: hot and cold water. Both methods start by drying the acorns, which makes them easier to crack and extends their storage life in the shell until they can be processed further. Then the acorns are cracked/shelled, and any spoiled or bug-eaten nuts are discarded.

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Cracked acorns. The jar on the left was dried before cracking, the jar on the right was cracked fresh.

After cracking and sorting, the two leaching methods proceed as follows:

Cold Water Leaching

In the cold water leaching method, acorns are ground into a fine flour to increase the surface area. They’re then placed into a container and covered with water.

Every 6 to 12 hours decant the acorn mixture by pouring off the water from the top of the container and replacing it with fresh. Give the mixture a stir, and allow it to continue to sit.

The leaching time will depend on the tannin levels in any given batch of acorns but often takes somewhere between 5 and 10 days. After a few days, taste a bit of the acorn flour. If it has any residual tannic flavor that gives you a dry sensation in your mouth, continue the cold leaching process.

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Cold leaching acorn flour (with a photo-bomb by our very friendly rooster)

Once the tannins are removed, the flour is then either used immediately in recipes or dried for long-term storage.

The main benefit of cold water leaching is that the starches within the acorns remain raw, and they will still bind together in baked goods. While acorns don’t have gluten and will never bake into a fluffy loaf, coldwater leached acorns can be used to make flatbreads and other baked goods.

Hot water leaching, on the other hand, denatures these starches and the resulting flour will always crumble.

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Drying acorn flour in my Excalibur dehydrator

Hot Water Leaching

Hot water leaching is a faster method, but it’s more energy-intensive. The acorns are shelled, then either coarsely chopped (to increase surface area) or left whole. They’re then simmered in several changes of water until all the tannins are extracted.

This method is faster, but it still takes a long time. It takes somewhere between 5 and 10 hours to hot leach acorns, changing the water every 30 to 60 minutes. In my experience at least, one hour of simmering for hot leaching equals one day of cold leaching.

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Hot leaching acorns

Once all the tannin has been removed, hot-leached acorns are not good for flour or baking. They do, however, have a number of other uses.

They can be ground in vegetarian burgers, made into traditional soups/stews, pureed into an acorn spread, dried into a crunchy nut snack or roasted for acorn coffee.

Other Leaching Methods

Beyond hot and cold water leaching, there are other effective methods that have been used historically. Chemical leaching using wood ash or clay to bind the tannins, as well as various roasting methods. There’s even a modern microwave method.

For simplicity though, hot and cold water leaching are the most common (and efficient) methods if you’re planning on eating acorns.

Native American Acorn Recipes

Most people think of native Americans when they think about eating acorns, so that’s where I’ll start. Keep in mind, stone age men have eating acorns in Asia, Europe, and Africa long before the first human set foot in what is now America.

Keep in mind that many recipes called “Indian acorn ______” may not, in fact, be of indigenous origin. Just about anything made with acorns these days often become associated with native Americans, for better or worse.

Ironically, since acorns are so often associated with Native Americans, it’s quite hard to find a historically authentic native American acorn recipe. Most have been “modified for modern cooks” using European ingredients like butter and white flour.

I would love to add more to this list, and if you have a traditional indigenous recipe please leave it (or a link) in the comments.

Acorn Griddle Cakes ~ The site “Native American Roots” says that this recipe “has been modified for modern cooks from the traditional foods of the Northern California tribes: Hupa, Karok, Miwok, Pomo, and Yurok.” It includes 2 parts acorns and 1 part white flour, as well as baking soda and butter. For a more authentic version, omit the white flour, use a bit of wood ash in place of baking soda, and hickory oil in place of butter.

Apache Acorn Cakes ~ Made with half acorn flour and half cornmeal.

Manataka Acorn Bread ~ A modernized recipe, this recipe includes half acorn flour and half wheat flour.

Fermented Acorn Cheese (ch’int’aan-noo’ool’) ~ I’ve come across several references to a traditional native American dish called ch’int’aan-noo’ool’ which equates to a fermented acorn “cheese” like substance.

Lacto-fermentation generally works to both preserve and increase the nutritional content of food, so it makes sense that they would choose to culture a staple food crop. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find much beyond the name and that it was part of the staple diet of tribes from the Western US.

I did, however, find someone making a modern version of fermented acorn cheese…

Tuolumne Acorn Stew ~ The book World Food: An Encyclopedia of History, Culture, and Social Influence from Hunter-Gatherers to the Age of Globalization contains a recipe for acorn stew from a California native group:

Dry and peel back oak or tanoak acorns. Rinse the nutmeat repeatedly with spring water, draining through a filter until all bitterness is leached out. Allow the nutmeat to dry and grind it with a mortar and pestle. Simmer 2 pounds of venison or venison jerky with marrow bones in 1 quart of water until the meat separates. Remove the meat and chop fine. To the broth, stir in 1 cup ground acorn meal. Return the chopped venison to the broth. Simmer and stir until the mixture thickens and turns creamy white, flecked with yellow. Flavor with chopped nasturtium petals, peppers, or wild celery, garlic or onions. Season with pepper and sea salt.”

Tuolumne Nupa (Acorn) Soup/Porridge ~ Another recipe for Tuolumne acorn soup, this time from a site called Native American Tech. This one is more of an acorn porridge, but it has detailed first-hand information from Tuolumne tribe members that still process acorns in the traditional manner.

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Acorn soup/porridge/grits made in my kitchen.

For more information on the current use of acorns by Native Americans, this study on the Modern use of acorns by Indigenous Americans describes how old traditions are modified to meet the needs of a modern world.

Italian Acorn Recipes

In the heart of the Mediterranean, Italy is surrounded on all sides by paleolithic archeological sites with evidence for humans eating acorns. Pliny wrote of eating acorns in his Natural History, written just after the time of Christ:

“It is a well-known fact that acorns at this very day constitute the wealth of many nations, and that, too, even amid these times of peace. Sometimes, also, when there is a scarcity of corn they are dried and ground, the meal being employed for making a kind of bread. Even to this very day, in the provinces of Spain, we find the acorn introduced at table in the second course: it is thought to be sweeter when roasted in the ashes. By the law of the Twelve Tables, there is a provision made that it shall be lawful for a man to gather his acorns when they have fallen upon the land of another.” (Natural History, Book 16, Chapter 6)

I spent three months in Italy on a language study in college, and though I ate plenty of pizza and drank plenty of wine, I knew nothing about eating acorns back then. Still, I was able to search “cucinare ricette di ghiande” and find plenty of Italian acorn recipes.

Sardinian Acorn Bread (Su Pan’ispeli) ~ Really more of a polenta than a bread, Sardinian acorn bread is still made today for festivals, and it’s thought to have some historical ceremonial/religious significance for pre-Christian peoples that now has largely been lost. According to a site that covers the legends and traditions of Sardinia,

Su Pan’ispeliwas named by Pliny the Elder in the 1st century AD, describing it as anacorn bread mixed with clay that the Sardinians ate.

The acorn bread was used for most of the year and was prepared by choosing the necessary amount of well-ripened acorns, which were peeled and placed to cook in a kind of lye, obtained by filtering the cooking water through a layer of special clay, rich in iron, and ash from some aromatic herbs.The ash was used to remove the sour and bitter tannins of the acorns, and the clay gave the gluten necessary to bind the dough.

Both of these ingredients contributed to making the pan’ispeli more tasty and digestible. When the acorns, due to the effect of cooking, reached the consistency of the polenta, assuming almost the color of chocolate, they lay on tables to firm, to then be cut into slices or breads.Dried in the sun or in the oven, the pan’ispeli was then consumed as any kind of bread, with the usual companion, cheese, lard, etc.”

Italian Acorn Cake (Torta di Ghiande) ~ I’ve seen several sites that reference a torta di ghiande made from hot processed acorns. It’s seasoned with cinnamon and lemon zest, and some recipes have a handful of other nuts, like hazelnuts, tossed in as well. Most recipes are gluten-free, using only acorn flour, while some have a few tablespoons of white flour thrown in as a binder to add a bit of gluten.

Acorn Pasta ~ Not traditional, at least as far as I know, but I tried my hand at making acorn pasta using a recipe for almond flour pasta. I had to use considerably more starch to get it to bind, but it was quite tasty.

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Homemade acorn pasta

Spanish Acorn Recipes

Pliny mentioned that while Romans ate acorns when necessary, they were more commonly on the tables of the Spanish. They’re still eaten in Spain with some regularity and becoming more popular in upscale restaurants.

Even when not directly eaten, acorns are important to traditional Spanish cuisine in other ways. Iberian ham is made from pigs fattened on acorns, and it simply cannot be produced outside of these oak forests in spain…and science now knows why:

“Pigs to be used for Iberian ham production which is specific to Spain have been fed on oak acorns. It is known that the antioxidant compounds found in the acorn structure used for the pig fodder are transferred to the meat structure, thus preventing the product from being oxidized during the prolonged maturation period.”

Licor de Bellota (Acorn Liqueur) ~ Exactly as it sounds, this acorn liqueur is still made today. Flavored with acorns, it has a unique nutty/bitter flavor profile. I’ve also read that you can make something similar by taking acorn leaching liquid and concentrating it down to just a few ounces…then adding a single drop to a glass of liqueur.

Acorns cooked with Orange and Cinnamon ~ A Spanish website discusses a recipe for acorns infused with orange and cinnamon flavor. Start with hot leached whole acorns or acorn halves, and then simmer them with a bit of orange peel, honey, and cinnamon.

Spanish Acorn Cake ~ I found a recipe for a sweet/savory spanish acorn cake that includes honey, chocolate, Iberian ham and lard along with the acorn flour. At least according to this recipe, acorns are sometimes available in Spanish health food stores?

Spanish Acorns and Rice ~ I found a recipe for Spanish acorns and rice in video form. It’s in Spanish, but you can turn on captions in English on youtube:

German Acorn Recipes

I haven’t found any ancient german acorn recipes, but I did find german ersatzkaffee, which is an acorn coffee that was prepared in Germany during WWII. The Germans weren’t the only ones to make coffee from acorns, and I’ve found references to Eastern European and North Americans making acorn coffee during times of hardship (or when supply lines were cut off). And of course, acorn beer…

Acorn Coffee (Eratzkaffee) ~ Start by hot leaching the acorns in several changes of water until all the tannin flavor is removed. Then roast the acorns until dried and dark, either in a hot cast iron pan or in a 400-degree oven for 30 minutes.

The acorns should be completely dry, crisp and browned. Grind the toasted acorns in a coffee grinder, and prepare a coffee with 2 tablespoons of powder per cup.

I actually found that making acorn coffee in a french press only resulted in an acorn tea-like substance. For something with the body of coffee, the acorn coffee needs to be simmered in water for about 10 minutes and then allowed to infuse for another 10 minutes before straining.

We’re big coffee nerds, and we roast our own coffee at home. To me, the acorn coffee tasted a bit “green” like actual coffee beans that were slightly under roasted. My husband said he’d readily drink it if coffee weren’t available, as for myself, I’m pretty fond of pine needle tea and I’d go with that given that neither one has caffeine anyway.

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Making Acorn Coffee in my kitchen from acorns first leached then roasted and ground

Acorn Beer ~ I came across a paper where the author did historical research documenting the use of acorns in brewing, and then went on to make a “German Acorn Beer“. He documents their use in 16th century Germany to make Gruit, a type of beer made with herbs and plants before hops became prevalent.

As far as nuts go, acorns enjoy an unusual composition. Acorns are largely made up of starches and fiber whereas most other types of nuts (hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, almonds, etc.) are largely made up of proteins and oils/fats. Because of this structure, acorns have a unique property among nuts–they can actually be malted.

The acorn itself is very similar in content to barley. It is 72 to 80 percent starch, 8 to 12 percent protein, and has a low oil content. One of its major drawbacks is that, like the potato, it contains high concentrations of the enzyme polyphenol oxidase. Therefore, the beers made with acorns will not be of the lighter variety. In test mashes the color comes out to be a brown shade along the line of a Vienna or Oktoberfest-style beer.”

Viking Acorn Recipes

I’ve found several sources claiming that Vikings ate acorns as part of their diet, and there are references to them in the sagas as well. Historical evidence shows that northern Scandinavians routinely incorporated birch bark flour and pine bark bread into their diets, so acorns really aren’t that much of a stretch.

Shardbread or Flatbread ~ A type of bread cooked on shards of pottery near the fire. It was made with coarse flour, whatever was on hand, along with whey and eggs if available. Several references mention the use of acorns in this bread to add more bulk.

Acorn Mead or Beer ~ Just as there’s historical evidence for acorns used in brewing in Central Europe, the Saga’s make mention of adding acorns to fermented beverages. In the Volsunga saga, one of the people must consume a brew made with “hurtful things” which is made from ingredients often consumed or added to brews that had been first adulterated or ruined. In this case, the acorns are burned black, and there’s an implication that unburnt acorns were generally used.

Korean Acorn Recipes

Believe it or not, Korean’s still eat acorns in quantity and have modern processing facilities to produce Acorn Starch for home cooking. The starch is not quite acorn flour, it’s like what corn starch is compared to cornmeal.

Acorn starch is used to make traditional Korean recipes, and it thickens into a beautiful gel when cooked.

They also make two different varieties of acorn noodles, which are eaten in hot and cold recipes in place of other udon-type noodles.

Acorn vermicelli noodles (dotori naengmyeon or 냉면 도토리) ~ These very thin noodles are made from a mixture of acorn starch, along with some combination of potato, rice or arrowroot starch and wheat flour. The resulting noodles are highly elastic and chewy.

Acorn Soba Noodles (dotori guksu or 도토리국수) ~ Made with a combination of acorn, buckwheat and cornmeal, these soba noodles are thicker than the vermicelli version.

Korean Acorn Jelly (Dotorimuk) ~ A gelly-like substance made from acorn starch, Dotorimuk is eaten a bit like tofu. The acorn jelly is made, then cut into chunks before being served with savory toppings like kimchi.

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Korean Acorn Jelly (Dotorimuk) prepared as part of a savory dish.

Japanese Acorn Recipes

Similar to the Korean preparations, the Japanese also have a traditional acorn noodle.

Japanese Acorn Noodles (donguri-men or どんぐり) ~ I’ve found very few references to this acorn noodle variation. At least according to cooks info, these are only 1/10th acorn flour with the rest as other ingredients. The Korean versions are 1/3 acorn.

North African & Middle Eastern Acorn Recipes

The earliest recorded evidence of eating acorns in Africa comes from Morocco. An archeological site dating back to 15,000 BC documents that acorns were a staple crop harvested for a substantial portion of their calories.

I’ve found numerous sites claiming that acorn oil is commercially available in Algeria and Morocco even today, but I’ve yet to find anything that verifies these claims.

It is possible to extract oil from acorns, at least certain varieties with higher oil concentrations. My favorite foraging author actually sells small bottles of acorn oil in an online shop. I asked how they produce it, and they have some gigantic commercial oil press for the job, which they also use to press wild foraged hickory oil.

It is possible to press your own acorn oil with a small home oil press, as shown here:

Rachout des Arabes (Acorn Hot Chocolate)~ Beyond acorn oil, there’s also “racahout des arabes” which is an Arabian acorn drink that was later modified to become what we know now as hot chocolate…That’s right… hot chocolate was originally a hot acorn drink!

It was only by careful marketing that importers were able to convince people to substitute this new mysterious cocoa powder from the new world for their old standby healthy tonic drink made from powdered acorns.

The site Magical Childhood discusses the history of Rachout, and cites a book from 1862 that describes how Rachout powder is made:

“ … In Turkey acorns are buried for some time in the earth by which the bitterness is destroyed They are then dried and toasted. Their powder with sugar and aromatics constitutes the palamoud of the Turks and racahout of the Arabs an alimentary substance readily digestible and very much esteemed.”

For centuries, rachout powder was considered a health tonic, and it was fed to infants, elderly and sick people as a thickened drink, sometimes including slippery elm bark, which was believed to have similar health-promoting properties.

Rachout Cream (Acorn Cream Trifle)~ Basically a type of ice cream or ice cream trifle cake, made from prepared Rachout acorn powder. This recipe comes from The Epicurian, a cookbook from 1893:

“Put six egg-yolks into a basin with two heaping tablespoonfuls of racahout and ten ounces of sugar; beat well with a whip, adding one quart of boiling milk; cook this cream until it almost boils, without allowing it to do so, then strain, cool and freeze, mixing in half as much whipped cream. Pack two molds in ice; having covers to fasten on the outside; one cylindrical, five and a half inches in diameter and six inches high, and the other dome-shaped, four and a half inches in diameter at its base. Pour some maraschino over macaroons; place them in layers in the cylindrical mold, then racahout cream to cover, on this the fruits and more of the cream and then macaroons, continuing until the mold is entirely full, finishing with the cream; fit on the cover, freeze for one hour, then unmold it into the above wafer timbale; lay this timbale on a folded napkin, put on to it first the wafer ring and then the dome cover and serve.”

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A Painting titled Rachout Des Arabes, by Théophile Steinlen shows a mother feeding her sick child this “health tonic” to help the child recover.

Russian Acorn Recipes

By searching in Russian, I found a site containing a number of unique acorn recipes. I’m not sure any of them are “traditional” uses, but most are unique and I haven’t seen them in the acorn recipes from other cultures. All originally came from a single Russian website, that has since been taken down (so no links here, sorry).

Acorn Milk Soup ~ Acorn flour is cooked with milk and sugar to make a porridge that sounds a lot like cream of wheat.

Galushki Acorn ~ A dumpling dough is made by mixing acorn flour with sour cream and onion, and then that dough is deep-fried.

Cheesy Acorn Cakes ~ A bit like polenta, the translation actually calls these “acorn butter cakes.” The acorn flour is heated with sour cream and cheese, then cooked on the stovetop before being then poured into a pan to solidify.

The “cake” is then cut, and the pieces are browned in oil. Basically the same process as making fried polenta, but with acorn instead.

Acorn Pudding with Apples ~ Basically, acorns cooked with apples and cheese into a sweet/savory pudding.

Acne Dumplings ~ I found a reference to eating acorns as a traditional remedy for acne, and this site, in particular, has a recipe for “acne dumplings” which are basically simple acorn flour dumplings simmered in saltwater.

Modern Acorn Recipes

While the nerd in me loves the history behind eating acorns, there’s no reason to just eat this free woodland food source in traditional ways. Our modern kitchens have so many amenities, and incorporating the unique flavor of acorns into our modern diets is a fun way to both connect with the past and have fun in the present.

As foraging becomes more common, I’m finding more and more acorn recipes shared across the internet. The creativity of some of these recipes is astounding and way too good not to share!

Acorn Drinks

Acorn Wine ~ Modern winemaking recipes often include some type of synthetic tannin, and a single tiny piece of an acorn would be perfect as a substitute. Beyond that, acorns are full of starch and flavor that can be fermented into wine if properly leached and processed ahead of time. We’ve already discussed historical recipes for acorn beer and acorn mead, why not acorn wine?

Acorn Bitters or Aperitif ~ A modern British company is producing an acorn aperitif called Æcorn, which is used in fancy bars for mixed drinks. I imagine it’d be easy enough to make something similar at home.

I already make dandelion and burdock bitters, as well as a herbal infused gin. I think this one’s next on my mixology list.

Acorn Milk ~ Not all that different than other nut milks, like almond milk or cashew milk.

Acorn Shrub ~ A shrub is a vinegar-based syrup used for flavoring drinks. It’s usually sugar, vinegar and some kind of fruit infused then strained.

They were popular historically, and they’re making a comeback to flavor sodas and co*cktails. I found someone locally that actually makes acorn shrubs for sale, along with a number of other acorn-based products.

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Acorn Breads

Acorn Crepes ~ While acorns lack gluten, that doesn’t really matter for crepes. Crepes contain a good bit of egg, which helps bind the batter. They’re just using flour for a bit of starch in the batter, and acorn flour can be substituted for white flour 1:1 in crepe recipes with delicious results.

Acorn Pancakes ~ Thicker American-style pancakes can be made by substituting about half the flour for acorn flour.

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Acorn Flour Pancakes

Acorn Flatbreads ~ An acorn variation on a traditional Italian flatbread.

Acorn Tortillas ~ With gluten-free recipes on the rise, I’ve come across several recipes for almond flour tortillas using either psyllium or chia as a binder, and then almond flour. I imagined they’d work with acorn, but then I came across this post that proved it…

Acorn Muffins ~ Not quite a cake or a bread, Hank Shaw says he spent a long time perfecting this acorn muffin recipe. It looks good…

Persimmon Bread (with Acorn Flour) ~ Persimmons ripen in the very late fall, which is the perfect time to use them with acorn flour.

Acorn Skillet Bread ~ A cross between cornbread and acorn bread, this recipe is cooked in a cast-iron skillet.

Acorn Spreads, Dips, Condiments and Pickles

Acorn Nut Butter ~ Given that acorns are botanically a nut, I tried a few different methods for making acorn nut butter. I used hot leached and cold leached variations, both with very different results.

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Acorn “Nutella” made with hot processed acorns and apple cider syrup

Acorn Hummus ~ In truth, since acorns are much heavier in starch than protein and oil, an acorn hummus makes more sense. Start with hot processed acorns, which are a lot like cooked beans anyway, and proceed on to use them in place of chickpeas in a hummus recipe. Or you can follow this acorn hummus recipe that uses cold-processed acorn flour, along with chickpeas.

Acorn Pickles ~ Exactly as they sound, pickled acorns are hot-leached acorns that are then pickled with vinegar and spices. You can pickle almost anything and acorns are no exception. Someone local sells maple-flavored pickled acorns, which probably turns some heads at the market. (Crosby Forage and Farm is sadly out of business as of 2023.)

Acorn Vinegar ~ Just like pickles, vinegar itself can be infused with flavors. According to a local maker of acorn vinegar, “It has a nutty flavor and is treat for vinaigrettes or used in your favorite recipe. It can also be boiled down as a glaze for meats.” (Crosby Forage and Farm is sadly out of business as of 2023.)

Acorn Miso ~ As a starchy, bean-like substance, acorns also make good miso. A few chefs in Arizona are working on making a localvore Arizona Miso from wild-harvested acorns.

Pascal Baudar provides a detailed recipe for acorn miso as well:

Acorn Main Dishes

Venison Stew w/ Wild Mushrooms (Acorn Thickened) ~ Acorn starch is a great soup thickener, and it seems right at home with venison and wild mushrooms.

Wood Duck and Acorn Dumplings ~ Some food of the forest right there. Wood ducks are tree ducks that roost and nest in trees…often oak trees.

Acorn Croquettes ~ Somewhere between a crab cake and a falafel, croquettes are a unique way to enjoy acorns.

Acorn Soup ~ Made with just acorns, aromatic vegetables, and dried mushrooms, the acorns are really the star of the show in this dish.

Acorn Tacos ~ Hot leached acorns have a texture that’s a lot like pinto beans, and using them as a taco filling will trick your friends.

Acorn Spätzle ~ An acorn version of a traditional German dish, spätzle is a type of pasta made from a very loose dough that’s cut/poured into boiling water to form noodles. The technique is a bit tricky, but spätzle is amazing…I can only imagine that acorns improve the flavor.

Acorn Wild Rice Patties ~ Made with mostly wild foraged ingredients, this looks like the perfect wild camping food.

Squirrel Pie (With Acorn Crust) ~ If you’re going to make a squirrel pie, acorn crust seems only fitting. Squirrel is delicious by the way. Don’t believe me? Here are more than 40 squirrel recipes to change your mind.

Refried Acorns ~ Hot-leached acorns actually reminded me of pinto beans in texture, and their taste is pretty neutral. Once the acorns are hot leached and dried, try mashing them with seasoning into refried acorns.

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Hot processed acorns with skins removed

Acorn Desserts

Acorn Mousse ~ Hot processed acorns could be blended into whipped egg whites and whipped cream, along with a bit of maple syrup, for a light acorn mousse.

Acorn Pudding ~ An old-style pudding made by simmering acorn flour with milk, maple, butter and spices.

Acorn Maple Shortbread ~ Nothing like a simple shortbread to make the choice of flour really shine.

Butternut Cookies (with Acorn Flour) ~ Butternuts are one of the special wild treats we have here in the northeast. A bit like walnuts, but without the tannin flavor, so more like pine nuts. Make wild cookies with butternuts and acorn flour for a real treat.

Acorn Brownies ~ Brownies are naturally heavy on eggs and low on gluten, so subbing in acorn flour isn’t that much of a stretch.

Acorn Cake ~ A simple acorn cake, this recipe is designed for either acorns or chestnuts.

Acorn Spice Cupcakes (Gluten-Free) ~ A mixture of acorn flour and gluten-free flour blend, these cupcakes are warmed with a bit of spice as well.

Acorn Maple Bundt Cake with Candied Acorns and Acorn Pudding ~The wondersmith is one of my favorite writers, and her name pretty much says it all. She makes wonder, and this spectacular acorn cake is just that. Described as a “Woodland Acorn Cake for an Elfin Queen,” this stunning cake is probably the most elaborate way to eat acorns that I’ve yet seen.

Acorn Tiramisu ~ Second only to the acorn cake above, this acorn tiramisu is served in a fancy Russian restaurant. Every part of the dish contains acorns, and it’s mostly gluten-free with the exception of small acorn cookies used to decorate the dish which have a small amount of white flour.

Acorn Ice Cream ~ I was originally planning on making acorn ice cream using hot processed acorns and substituting them for the chestnuts in this roasted chestnut ice cream. I realized though, that hot processed acorns don’t have nearly as much flavor as roasted acorns.

Instead, I used a recipe for coffee ice cream but infused the cream with roasted acorn coffee. I filtered the acorn grounds out for a better texture, but that’s not strictly necessary. It was amazing, like chocolate and coffee, but not quite either.

Eating Acorns: 60+ Acorn Recipes from Around the World (17)

Our own acorn ice cream using acorn coffee.

More Edible Acorn Resouces

Acorns in Archeology ~ A really complete list of archeological finds around the world where acorns have been discovered as part of the food supply. It also talks about why acorns are not found all that often compared to other foods, even though they were likely eaten in great abundance.

Oakmeal Acorn Products ~ The only place I’ve found where you can order acorn flour. Oakmeal is a small woman-owned company in Greece that produces acorn flour and acorn baked goods, with shipping available worldwide.

It Will Live Forever: Traditional Yosemite Indian Acorn Preparation ~ A book containing detailed descriptions of traditional acorn processing techniques.

Eating Acorns – Field Guide – Cookbook – Inspiration ~ A book written by the owner of Oakmeal, the only commercial acorn flour provider in the world. It has over 70 acorn recipes using whole acorns and acorn flour.

Acorns and Eat ‘Em: A Vegetarian Cookbook ~ While many acorn recipes are already vegetarian, this book is explicitly written from a vegetarian point of view.

Acorn Foraging: Everything You Need to Know to Harvest One of Autumn’s Best Wild Edible Foods, with Recipes, Photographs and Step-By-Step Instructions ~ Written by the author or the site A Magical Childhood, this book contains 50+ acorn recipes that have all been thoroughly tested. It’s also gluten-free, dairy-free and allergen-free in focus.

More Foraging Lists

Looking for more foraging guides? Keep on reading…

  • Winter Foraging ~ 50+ Wild Foods in the Snow
  • Spring Foraging ~ 20+ Early Spring Greens

Eating Acorns: 60+ Acorn Recipes from Around the World (18)

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Eating Acorns: 60+ Acorn Recipes from Around the World (2024)

FAQs

Which cultures eat acorns? ›

Among others, there are records of the ancient Greeks, Iberians, Japanese and English eating acorns, especially during times of famine when grains were unavailable. Contemporary Native American and Korean cooking incorporates acorns in beautiful dishes that you can still find today.

What can you make with acorns to eat? ›

Acorns can be ground to make flour for bread, pancakes, pastries, cookies and even pasta. If you plan to do this, it's best to leach with cold water to preserve the starch and help the dough hold together better. If you're going to keep your acorns whole, or at least chunky, you can leach them with boiling water.

Are acorns healthy for humans to eat? ›

Acorns contain more than 60 different phenolics. These are plant compounds that act as antioxidants in your system. Antioxidants may help prevent some types of cell damage. Experts recommend consuming foods that are rich in antioxidants instead of taking supplements.

How do Native Americans eat acorns? ›

Acorn Baskets

After collecting acorns, tribe members will shell the acorns and crush their flesh within the acorn basket, making flour. A tribe member will then leach, or wash, the acorn flour in their basket, removing yucky tasting tannins. Finally, tribe members cook the acorn flour with fresh water, in the basket!

How to prepare acorns for human consumption? ›

Eating Roasted Acorns
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Pour the acorns into a single layer on an ungreased, rimmed cookie sheet.
  3. Cook the nuts for about 60 minutes or until they turn a chocolate brown color.
  4. Remove the acorns from the oven and let them cool. Salt to taste.
Nov 22, 2023

Can you boil acorns and eat them? ›

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Place the acorns, shell and all, into the already boiling water. This is important as putting the acorns in colder water and then bringing the pot to boil can lock in the undesirable tannins. Boil for a couple minutes and strain the water off.

What can you do with thousands of acorns? ›

What to Do With Acorns in Your Yard
  1. Use them for arts and crafts and holiday decorations.
  2. Use them to grow an oak tree.
  3. Use them in animal feeders.
  4. Donate them to zoos and wildlife preserves.
Jun 14, 2023

Can you eat acorns without cooking them? ›

Some oaks bear acorns so low in bitter tannins that they can be eaten raw. Legend says that California Indians fought over these trees, which makes some sense because one mature Valley Oak can drop 2,000 pounds of acorns in a really good year. A ton of sweet acorns may well be worth fighting over.

Are acorns a Superfood? ›

Acorns are packed with healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds. They are particularly good sources of vitamins A and E.

Which acorn tastes the best? ›

Generally, the best acorns to harvest are those of the white oaks, such as the swamp oak, Oregon white oak, and burr oak, as they contain less bitter tannin. Luckily, nearly all acorns can be made usable with natural processing which renders them nutty and sweet.

What is so special about acorns? ›

Acorns are one of the most important foods of our past in North America, and they are also one of the most underutilized foods in the present day. Growing slowly and patiently, this tree creates some of the most nourishing seeds, and contains some of the strongest wood in our environment.

What happens if I eat raw acorns? ›

The main concern of consuming acorns is the tannic acid content. Tannins are bitter substances that can irritate human membranes and organs, particularly the kidneys, if consumed in large enough quantities. Avoid eating raw acorns—it is essential to leach acorns before consumption.

How to tell if acorns are good? ›

As you are planting, do a visual inspection for exit holes and the "feel" test for light, shriveled, and soft acorns. If you have a large number of acorns of questionable quality, you can do the float test: place the acorns in a bucket of water, discard the floaters, and keep the sinkers for planting.

How do you remove tannins from acorns? ›

Toss the nuts into a large pot, and cover them with plenty of water. Bring to a boil, then boil for about 15 minutes. The water will turn brown, the color of tea, as the tannic acid is extracted from the kernels. Throw out the water...and replace it with fresh water.

Who eats acorns? ›

Acorns, along with other nuts, are termed mast. Wildlife that consume acorns as an important part of their diets include birds, such as jays, pigeons, some ducks, and several species of woodpeckers. Small mammals that feed on acorns include mice, squirrels and several other rodents.

What do Koreans do with acorns? ›

Ultimate consumption takes the form of a variety of human foodstuffs, chiefly acorn tofu, but also dried acorn pasta, fresh acorn pasta, and acorn pancakes.

What do Asians do with acorns? ›

Ultimate consumption takes the form of a variety of human foodstuffs, chiefly acorn tofu, but also dried acorn pasta, fresh acorn pasta, and acorn pancakes. Oak acorns have historically provided food for humans and fodder for animals in cultures across Asia, North Africa, Europe, and North America (Bainbridge 2006).

Are Japanese acorns edible? ›

In Japan's satoyama (cultivating woodland), acorns have been used as food for a long time. Carbonized acorns have been found among pottery shards at archeological sites dating to the Jomon era. For Japanese people, donguri are a familiar feature of local cuisine and folk crafts, such as in the song "Donguri Koro-koro."

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