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Processing Acorns

Been a very good year for acorns this year and while we were out walking through the local woods I’ve been given instructions to pick up berries, nuts and flowers for a school project. So we had a small bucket for collecting into. After a while we came across a nice Oak at one of the entrances. It was laden with acorns with many having fallen off. So I had to pick the ones from the tree whilst she picked the ones from the floor.

My memory of acorns is a bit hazy but I remember that green means not ready and brown means ripe. Heavy and tough is good whilst light and soft means not so good. They also get some bugs in them so you need to be careful with that. Anyway she was not interested in the details for her project and thus we soon had a bucket full without making much of a dint on the tree from a mixture of fallen and picked acorns.

When we got home however she stuck them on a shelf and forgot about them.

So a week later I asked about the acorns and she was away on another project. The apple, or in this case Acorn, does not fall far from the tree.

So I thought about these acorns and decided I was going to make something from them rather than just throw them away. So I took the bucket down and sorted them out from the other items we had collected. Of course now I was interested in bugs so I also removed any that had holes in the shells. Finally removing all the hats and the little acorns to leave me my collection of acorns.

I then peeled them all with a knife. This was a fiddly task as we had not just picked the large acorns but some of the small ones as well but eventually the deed was done.

UK acorns contain a large amount of tannin which is not good for you so you must remove that before you can do anything with the meat. There are several ways to do this but the one I used was to put the acorns in a pot, fill it up with water and boil it. The tannin leeches out into the water which you pour away. Repeat the water treatment until no more tannin appears in the water. It took a few refills to get them to this state but there wasn’t that many nuts in there.

When you have leeched all the tannins out simply stick them into an oven at 250 for an hour or so until they are nicely roasted.

Then simply eat them. They make a nice change if you like nuts and can easily be processed for consumption in other ways. Nobody seems to do much with acorns but sweet chestnuts are popular. I’ll collect some more acorns and make some flour from them and something with the flour in another article.

13 comments to Processing Acorns

  • half

    I remember a program Ray Mears did with acorns, he put them in a net bag in a fast flowing stream over night to leach the tannins out. Think you would need a clean stream but it would save fuel.

  • Skean Dhude

    There are several ways. Boiling is quicker but needs fuel. You can put them in a container and leave overnight empty out in the morning and refill and replace. Repeat until done but it would take ages and use a lot of water.

  • Skvez

    250°F or 250°C?
    250°F isn’t very hot for an oven but 250°C is very hot for an oven so I can’t guess.

  • Skean Dhude


    I have a hot oven but it is not marked. All my ovens are scaled in centigrade though. So go with 250C.

  • fred

    After all that peeling and boiling and treating, she appears and asks, sweetly, “Do you know where those acorns went?”

  • Skean Dhude

    I think she will remember being offered one and turning her nose up when reminded.

  • Brian

    Tried Skean’s baked acorn recipe at the weekend with mediocre results. Apart from the laborious process of shelling them the removal of tannin took about 4 boilings before the water ran clear. I then used a 200c fan oven setting but they were toasted and crispy on the outside and soft inside, like roast chestnuts, but this only took about 15 minutes in the oven. Probably all the boiling cooked them and they only needed a toasting which I think you could do on a skillet over a fire or under the grill. I wouldn’t queue for hours for them based on taste as I found the flavour still a little sour, not sweet like chestnuts, but if things were desperate they would be quite filling and dead easy to do.

  • Skean Dhude


    I’m not a great lover of nuts myself so I didn’t comment on the taste. I found mine bitter, I suspected I didn’t leech all the tannins out because others didn’t report that in the recipes.

    I also did some chestnuts this weekend and they didn’t work out too well either. Sure, like the acorns, they were edible but nothing to put down as a treat. Keep you alive for a short time I would think but no more.

    I also got told this weekend that my oven isn’t as hot as it should be. A collapsed cake from a visitor was the clue. I don’t use my oven much usually the microwave as it has an oven built in. I’m going to check the temperature and see what it is. Don’t have an over thermometer though. I’ll keep you informed.

  • Brian


    I agree, I think residual tannin is the reason for the bitter taste. Perhaps leaving them to soak for a few days, replacing the water periodically, might work – I’ll give that a try next with just a few this time instead of the tray-full that took me an hour to peal.

  • prepaday

    I heard you can make a washing powder typed thing from Acorns. I was reading an artical about a guy who lived for a year in a caravan with no cash, Missed the bit about being able to wash his clothes with Acorns as someone came to the door, caught the last few seconds of the documentary…GUTTED, Anyone have any info on this?

  • prepaday

    Meant to say was watching a doc, watching an artical, kids jumping all over me here and can’t concentrate…Sorry….

  • Ratty No13

    Good read, thanks Skean.

    I was flicking through a book called “food for free” and read that during the war people were told to grind up acorns to use as a coffe substitute. I haven’t tried it any foraging yet but am planning too soon.

  • Ratty No13

    Not sure if it causes any problems with my posts but the email address I used for the reply above isn’t working (set it up as my iPhone can’t open emails from my old address for some reason), so I’ve now set up ANOTHER email for future posts. Sorry.

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