SO many to thank for this year’s fantastic Acorn Festival: acorn and oak artists, harvesters, entrepreneurs, herbalists, organizers, cooks, and creatives… First thanks to D Acres Permaculture Farm and Educational Homestead: host and new home of the New England Acorn Cooperative. We are delighted to gather under your auspices to study, steward, and share the abundance of fields and forests here, especially to explore the D Acres outstanding trails system… ever in search of acorns…
Acorn and oak related products abounded, and founding festival goers from the Capo family (Aiden and Caolila) stepped into leadership and teaching roles, while elders ran the store. Two new acorn chefs (Monica Mejia and Catherine Lang) joined the production team, and bow hunter Steve Burns contributed acorn-fed venison. Festival food samples from locally gathered acorns included caffeine-free acorn “coffee”, crackers, bread, and pudding. Overseas acorn culinary dishes included Korean dotoromuk, acorn noodles, and a cooking demonstration of gravy making using Korean Acorn starch (rather than corn starch or wheat flour) for both vegetarian and meat based dishes.
Of the unique, and acorn based items crafted for this Festival, some may still be obtainable for this season’s gift giving, check out: Marshmallow Farm acorn soap, Acornucopia acorn oil, Lotus Fox Botanicals acorn tincture & acorn chai (by custom order), and UnityDesign oak & acorn earrings. Visit our products page and check back for updates next month. Thanks and acorn hat tip to Equal Exchange for support of this years Acorn Festival with delicious fair-trade treats, and for their 36 years of practice and promotion of equitable, organic farming and trade.
Enthusiastic participants came from almost all the New England states – bringing acorn gathering experience (some acorns) & culinary chops to work with. Catherine began the festival with a tour of D Acres immediate grounds, touching on programs and plantings in place. Then the acorn weasels came out and folks got busy gathering and sharing experiences of various techniques, tools and results.
Back in the sun room, Aiden demonstrated best practices with an acorn float test for cleaning and culling. He showed how to open acorns with traditional cracking “tools” (well shaped rocks, nut crackers) and then guided the group in the use of the cast iron Davebilt nutcracker. Everyone not cracking got to shelling and sorting, comparing and discussing various acorn quirks and qualities.
Caolila expertly organized and staffed the Kids table, so many things to do! Clever and beautiful creations came into being amidst the acorn demos and game playing.
‘Pin the Weevil on the Acorn’ brought some fun to the “ick” factor of this prevalent pest. Contestants were blind-folded, turned about, and then had to find that little weevil grub’s acorn exit spot. Those who did were awarded acorn charms, and having taken that grub in hand…all can now say that they “fear no weevil”!
Using tools found in most kitchens: ball jars, blender, colanders, linen cloth, cookie sheets and a coffee grinder, Daniela did a brief demonstrations of the steps to process acorns for human consumption (after cracking): re-hydrate, blend, leach, decant (leach, decant, leach, decant… til no longer bitter). She was assisted in the decanting and final draining of leached acorn grits into a cloth-lined colander to be wrung as dry as possible and then spread on cookie sheet for dehydration in stove.
Time to COOK! Climbing instructor, wild food and wilderness enthusiast Monica whipped up two versions of acorn gravy (vegetarian and meat-based) before the crowd, while Catherine mastered the Korean acorn noodle, served with sauteed shitake (a mushroom that favors oak). ” and artfully served the mild acorn jelly (Korean Dotoromuk) that had been prepared for people to try with salad – as typically served in Korea – cold, with a savory spicy dressing.
Acorn starch can be gathered carefully from the top layer of acorns processed by hand yourself, you can purchase acorn starch in many Korean markets, or try the AMAZING acorn flour from ancient oak trees on the Greek Island of Kea – where Marcie Mayer’s Oak Initiative regenerated the Greek harvest of these huge acorns (and saved untold numbers of oak from being cut to make way for “development”) and inspired many of us all over the world to gather and learn more about this global ancestral food. Thanks and blessings Marcie
Naturalist and forager extraordinaire Russ Cohen was missed in person this year, but represented by his book: Wild Plants I have Known… and Eaten and article specific to his acorn preferences (see here). We look forward to walks with Russ in 2023 to gather and share acorn and more forest lore, larder, and conscious care of wherever we go.
Finally AND going forward ->
THANKS & BLESSINGS TO ALL
WHO CAME OUT TO CELEBRATE THE ACORN
at D ACRES THIS YEAR
Your enthusiasm, curiosity, participation, knowledge and skill-sharing is really what this Festival is about. Interest in the acorn is a calling card from a keystone species. Below are books we recommend for understanding the cultural draw and critical ecological components of acorn in our lives. Thank you for joining us!
Oak The Frame of Civilization by William Bryant Logan
and The Nature of Oaks by Douglas W. Tallamy
Eating Acorns by Marcie Mayer
...and here, there is so much to do, learn, and enjoy…come explore The Community Scale Permaculture Farm, by Josh Trought
Wild Plants I Have Known by Russ Cohen