New England Acorn Cooperative

A Gathering Place for the Acorn Community

Month: October 2018

2nd Annual New England Acorn Festival

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ACORN FESTIVAL TICKETS

 

Calling all Acorn aficionados, enthusiasts and oak-nut neophytes – its time to celebrate the fall of them in New England! Join us at D Acres in NH to share acorn lore, food, and FUN. Sunday’s activities will include acorn arts and crafts and acorn food/recipes,  acorn art, contests and demonstrations of acorn gathering and how to process for human consumption. Make a day of it! (call ahead to) COME at 10AM FOR D ACRES ALL YOU SHOULD EAT FARM FEAST BREAKFAST 

The 2018 Acorn Festival opens at 1PM with an acorn walk through beautiful paths of D Acres. Topics of discussion will include New England Oak Ecology and the practically universal cultural heritage of eating acorns. We’ll identify how to tell a “good” (for eating) acorn from a “bad” one, tools & techniques for gathering efficiently, and what “a light footprint” means.

1:00-3:00 PM Arts and Crafts table for kids and inside demonstrations of acorn processing and storage methods, using equipment found in most households.

3:00 PM Contest Submission deadline and Treasure Hunt

3:30 PM Prizes awarded

WHAT TO BRING: Dress for the weather (gloves, rain-coat, etc). We’ll have plenty of acorns to work with, but you are welcome to bring acorns you have gathered elsewhere. The Cooperative offers the use of the Davebilt nutcracker to the community.  Been inspired? You can bring a submission for one or all of the acorn contests (see categories below).

Contest submissions may be entered on the day (12/2/18), and will be voted on by the day’s participants.

PRIZES will be awarded for:

  • The Biggest Acorn / Smallest Acorn
  • Acorn drawing / photo (please bring in frame that can stand on table)
  • Acorn poem / song (please bring typed copy for perusal by participants)
  • Acorn sculpture or collage
  • Acorn recipe (please print instructions for your creation AND bring cooked sweet or savory dish that can be sampled by judges)

Workshop Wonders & Thanks

What a great couple of weeks of acorn workshops! Good folks at the Easton Foodie Group, Freedom Food Farm and D Acres Organic Farm and Educational Homestead got cracking & worked through a goodly portion of our”demo” acorns (pictures below).

Thanks to a very generous donation, we’ve got plenty of acorns to work with tomorrow at our last workshop this month with the Boston Food Forest Coalition. Join us, or come by after if you have acorns to crack, the Cooperative is making the Davebuilt available to anyone who would like to use it after the workshop too. Contact us about other opportunities.

Whats in your pocket?

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Its good luck to carry an acorn in your pocket!

Save the Date: Sunday December 2nd!

Join us for the 2nd annual New England Acorn Cooperative Festivaldetails soon!

 

Freedom Food Farm Acorn Workshop

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D Acres Acorn Workshop

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Easton Foodie Group

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Thank you to everyone who came and shared!

Marvel: Good vs Bad acorns

GOOD vs BAD There are many factors, but our first criteria for “good” centers around size, condition, and convenienceSize is straightforward – the bigger the better (more nut/less shell as the diameter increases). Condition includes environment, maturity, blemishes, and pests.  Convenience includes collection location and requirements of storage and processing. Of the many, many varieties of oak  (see USDA Field Guide to Native Oak Species of North America)   we divide (for convenience) what we work with into “red” (pointy leaved) and “white” (smooth-lobed leaved) acorns. For processing and storage convenience (and higher oil ratios) we work mostly with red oak acorns.

 WHAT TO LOOK FOR The picture above shows acorns  from three different red oak trees  (gathered within 5 miles of each other) in various stages of “maturity” (greener generally means recently fallen, browner has dried a bit more) variations of elevation and sun exposure can account for differences in color.  For the picture above, we lined up the “good” acorns on top and the “bad” acorns beneath.

Good examples seem blemish-free, perhaps some mottling as they dry.

 Bad examples include: acorn weevil holes (that’s an exit hole folks), cracks, bulging in odd ways, any black or yuck looking stuff), and a cap that is stuck on tight. Generally, the caps should be off, or come off easily when you try to remove them.  A cap that is welded on usually indicates “inhabitants” – not good for human consumption (but good for art/craft).

 

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White oak acorns mature in one year, fall in autumn and sprout when they hit the ground.  If you work quickly, you can process a newly sprouted acorn for eating. White acorns can be easier to shell, and all the processing steps are essentially the same.  However, if you don’t work quickly to process or dry them –  they either sprout too far (for our purposes) or spoil.

Red oak acorns take two years to mature,  fall in autumn but do not sprout until the next spring. Their shell is a bit harder to crack, but we find them easier to dry and store. For this and a couple other reasons, we favor the red oak acorns so our travels, practices, recipes and workshops are all geared for that kind of nut.

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 WHAT TO LOOK FOR Lined up above, the “good” acorns on top and the “bad” acorns beneath.

Good examples seem blemish-free, perhaps some mottling as they dry.

Bad examples include: acorn weevil holes (that’s an exit hole folks), cracks, bulging in odd ways, any black or yuck looking stuff), and a cap that is stuck on tight. Generally, the caps should be off, or come off easily when you try to remove them.  A cap that is welded on usually indicates “inhabitants” – not good for human consumption (but good for art/craft).

We hand pick our harvests, doing a quick visual inspection before it goes in the basket. When we get the acorns home, we do a quick bath to knock the road dust off AND this bath also serves as a “Float Test since those that float are often buggy and can be returned to the wildlife larder immediately.

IMPORTANT All acorns you gather will need to be dried before storage or further processing. If you leave your collection in the bag or bucket you gathered in – it will spoil within a day or two. Acorns can be dried on sheets in the sun,  baking pans in the oven (below 110 degrees) or around the radiator or wood stove. Fully dried acorns  in shell will store for years, but even if you intend to process for food immediately – a little drying time will make them easier to shell and sort. For further processing steps, please see guides at the top of our Resources page. Happy acorn hunting!

 

Preparing and Cooking Acorns with the Boston Food Forest Coalition

Our next workshop – Sunday October 21st – with the Boston Food Forest Coalition takes the next step and includes cooking with freshly made acorn flour! Join us from 1PM to 4PM at the Hawthorne Youth & Community Center Inc: 9 Fulda St, Roxbury, Massachusetts 02119

Activities will include demonstration of steps from gathering and cracking acorns, leaching, drying and making flour with tools found in most kitchens. Then hands on cooking: acorn coffee, acorn cookies and acorn pudding.

Spaces are limited, reserve yours through the Boston Food Forest Coalition’s website or Eventbrite.  Donations to BFFC cover the cost of materials and ingredients and are greatly appreciated!IMG_8972