Sunday’s activities will include an acorn gathering “how to” walk and processing demonstrations. There will be acorn foods to sample and recipes to share.
We will start at 1PM with a brief gathering walk. We will identify how to tell a “good” (for eating) acorn from a “bad” one, and tools & techniques for gathering efficiently – with a light footprint. Topics of discussion will include New England Oak Ecology and other forest news.
The walk, talk, and workshops are FREE. Space is limited, please register at Eventbrite
2–3 PM will be inside the dance barn: demonstration of acorn processing and storage methods, using equipment found in most households. Recipes to share.
3-4PM Storage solutions for your acorn product & Acorn food and beverages to sample.
WHAT TO BRING: Dress for the weather (gloves, rain-coat, etc). We’ll have plenty of acorns to work with. EVERYONE IS ENCOURAGED TO BRING ACORNS GATHERED ELSEWHERE so everyone can learn – and use the Cooperative’s Davebilt nut-cracker to shell them.
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.
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”!
Pin the weevil on the acorn got participants up close and personal “fearing no weevil” from now on.
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.
White acorn grits, leached, decanted and drained for dehydrating..
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.
Catherine in foreground plating the dotoromuk, Monica to her left, sauteeing mushrooms and garlic, whisking acorn starch into stock to create fast thickening velvety gravies to serve with traditional seasonal meat or vegetarian main courses.Monica demonstrating acorn gravy while festival folks try dotoromuk.
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!