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 systemever in search of acorns…

6th Annual Acorn Festival at D Acres participants watching the “float test”.

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.

Acorn and oak based products on display and for sale. Our growing product page contains links to artisans and authors…

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.

Catherine Lang and the D Acres introductory tour…
Acorn weasels in action, quickly gathering drops on the ground, and easy to empty in baskets.
The weasel tool is great for clean lawn gathering, hand picking is often quicker in tall grass or forest floor where weasels will pick up everything alongside the acorns too.

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.

The acorn float test reveals nuts that have been “lightened” by the ubiquitous acorn weevil… and is a good way to quick clean them before spreading gathered acorns out to dry and cure for proper storage.

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.

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, but represented by his acorn article, book: Wild Plants I have Known and Eaten, spirit, & solidarity. We look to plan walks with Russ in 2023 to gather and share acorn and more forest lore, larder, and stewardship of wherever we walk.

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 two 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

Oak The Frame of Civilization, William Bryant Logan.

and The Nature of Oaks by Douglas W. Tallamy

The Nature of Oaks, Douglas Tallamy

...and here, there is so much to do and enjoy, come explore The Community Scale Permaculture Farm, Josh Trought

The Community-Scale Permaculture Farm, Josh Trought