New England Acorn Cooperative

A Gathering Place for the Acorn Community

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Thanks and thoughts

Grateful for recent opportunities to break bread with friends and family,  and to learn from those who just observed the 49th National Day of Mourning. Check out the links and  start a conversation today  to shift our national mythology. 

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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

Got Acorns?

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 :-)

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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.

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Happy nut hunting!

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Cheers,

Ana, Deb, Jesse & Daniela

RESCHEDULED to 10/2/2018 – Acorn Workshop at D Acres

In honor of one just departed,  the 9.2/2018 acorn processing workshop will be held next month: 10.7.2018

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Talk about food not to be missed….

Gleaning  – the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers’ fields after they have been commercially harvested or on fields where it is not economically profitable to harvest, is a practice described in the Hebrew Bible that became a legally enforced entitlement…. (Wikipedia)

Are you familiar with the Boston Area Gleaners?  They harvest surplus farm crops and donate to dozens of area food banks, meal programs, & low-income markets, preventing waste and nourishing local families. Tonight’s special dinner at Mei Mei in Boston is an  “ALLocal dinner”  served to raise awareness around the benefits and challenges of seasonal cooking and promote local agriculture and seafood, by highlighting local food and local food systems. The Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts (SBN) defines local as the New England regional food system.  Come, enjoy and glean something about gleaning in the Boston Area Gleaner‘s area!

TICKETS

Location: Mei Mei Restaurant, 506 Park Drive, Boston, MA 02215
Website: http://www.meimeiboston.com/
Time: 5:30-6:00PM Registration, Social, Introductions by Chef and Farmer
6:00-8:00PM Dinner
Menu: 8 family style dishes
Travel: Closest MBTA Stop: Fenway T. Street parking is metered.
Beneficiary: Boston Local Food Program

Excellent permaculture article about acorns…

In addition to an excellent article about bringing acorns to the table, the print version of the zine permaculture (issue 9 Summer 2018 ) also has a nice article about D Acres – check it out!  In person, join us there for our 9/2/2018 acorn processing workshop :-)

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OAK everybody, come learn how to make acorn flour – it’s fun!

Acorns are coming & we want to share safe and simple ways to process them into  delicious foods and beverages!

Join us Sunday September 2nd 1PM at beautiful D Acres Organic Farm and Educational Homestead for gathering walk and processing workshop.

Come early to explore, the fabulous “All You Should Eat” Farm breakfast starts at 10am!

TO REGISTER: Call 603-786-2366 & save your seatSee you there!

DAcres Acorn Workshop9.2.2018

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