Keep calm and carry an acorn.
Wonderful folks came this weekend to share, celebrate, eat and compete with mighty (& mini) acorns!
Thanks to D Acres for hosting; Jesse, Jeff, Myles, Ana, Rochelle and Deb for making it come together; & all festival participants for curiosity, kicking in, and continuing to share what you learned this Sunday about the science, social, nutritional, and natural fun of this fruit of the oak!
Following an outstanding “All You Should Eat” D Acres Farm breakfast, activities included: a mini processing workshop,
The BIGGEST & LITTLEST (tied for tiny) Acorns!
Acorn Art Contest Voting…
Gourmet acorn and wild mushroom soup a la Jeff, acorn crackers, two acorn breads, acorn cranberry autumn olive crisp, and acorn pudding,
Myles making beautiful plates!
A treasure hunt for golden acorns,
Community cracking and shelling acorns,
Acorn Angels, Yule logs and THANKS to donors for supporting the Cooperative!
Wishing you all healthy happy holiday celebrations. Keep calm and carry an acorn!
It’s a hard nut to crack! That is why one of the Cooperative’s goals is to acquire, care for and share labor-saving equipment for some stages of acorn processing. At this stage, it’s cracking!
Next Sunday (12/2) at the 2nd Annual Acorn Festival at D Acres – is also an opportunity for anyone to bring acorns that need cracking and use the Cooperative’s DaveBuilt nutcracker – FREE!
Please message the Cooperative on FB to schedule a time slot to process your acorns while you sample savory and sweet acorn recipes, vote on acorn art submissions, enter for raffle prizes, play acorn games, and join the treasure hunt for a golden acorn! Participation is free, please register so we know how much food to prepare, thanks!
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:
GOOD vs BAD There are many factors, but our main criteria for “good” centers around size, condition, and convenience. Size 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.
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.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR The picture above of acorns are from three different red oak trees – gathered within 5 miles of each other, and in various stages of “maturity” (greener generally means recently fallen, browner has dried a bit more) variations of elevation and sun exposure account for differences. 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).
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!
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.
Fall newsletter is in the works – new oak folks and resources to talk about Bless those with time to write – and those who have shared stories and stores from last season: thanks to Tim, Dani, Myles and Nancy – this fall’s acorn processing workshops have seasoned nuts to demo (and make cookies from).
Our baskets are beginning to fill this month, but are still pretty green – the bakers racks and perforated pans donated last year are a dream for drying. The Cooperative can always use more AND dry room to store (if you have space). Got acorns? Got space? Send us a picture! Get in touch
Meantime, in between fall workshops – The FIRST New England Acorn Cooperative Community Cracking is scheduled for October 21, 2018. Following an acorn processing workshop with the Boston Food Forest Coalition, the Cooperative will make our “DaveBuilt” nut cracker available to the acorn gathering community to get cracking (we can even arrange to supply muscle if needed). Please message the Cooperative on FB to reserve a time slot. There will also be a TBD November Community Cracking date. Stay tuned – and join us for an October workshop.
Happy nut hunting!
Ana, Deb, Jesse & Daniela
In honor of one just departed, the 9.2/2018 acorn processing workshop will be held next month: 10.7.2018