Balanoculture: A society in which the collection, storage, preparation, and consumption of acorns as a foodstuff play a large role.
“I’m not saying anyone should subsist on acorns alone, but let’s tap into the abundant food resources we already have rather than acting based upon the myth of overall scarcity” Sandor Katz ‘The Art of Fermentation’
“To primitive man … acorns were often the ‘staff of life’. If we consider the whole sweep of his existence on earth, it seems likely that mankind has consumed many millions of tons more of acorns than he has of the cereal grains, which made their appearance only during the comparatively recent development of agriculture. It seems a pity that the food which nourished the childhood of our race is today nearly everywhere neglected and despised” Euell Gibbons ‘Stalking the Wild Asparagus’
“It would be quite possible to .. selectively breed.. to produce oaks that yield sweet acorns every year.” “Over the centuries, a massive plant breeding effort has gone into annual crops, especially grains. If that effort had gone into tree crops we would have trees which would far outyield the annuals.” Patrick Whitefield ‘Permaculture in a Nutshell’
“The lower time and work cost associated with acorn use suggests agriculture may have evolved as acorns became more scarce from the decline in the oak woodlands brought about by the adverse human impacts resulting from overgrazing, fuel cutting and cutting for timber, and field burning, exacerbated by climatic fluctuation. A reevaluation of the record is in order: agriculture may perhaps be better considered a regressive rather than a progressive evolutionary event.” David A. Bainbridge ‘The Rise of Agriculture: A New Perspective’
Great films, just try to overlook the patronising text in the 1st one..
Think we’re just being Quercky? Think again! The web is full of fascinating acorn-eating information.
Here are links to some of it:
- Here’s a LOT of information (haven’t read it all myself yet). I recommend chapter 3 ‘The Ethnographic Record’ for the history of acorn foods around the world. Mason, S.L.R.; (1992) Acorns in human subsistence. Doctoral thesis, University of London
- ‘Oaks with edible acorns’ is a very detailed Agroforestry Research Trust Factsheet N04 Price: £1.50
- “Acorns are a neglected food” from ‘Use of Acorns for Food in California: Past, Present, Future’ by David A. Bainbridge 1986
- ‘Acorn Use as Food’ by David A. Bainbridge 2006
- ‘Acorn Pasta and the Mechanics of Eating Acorns’ “Starch (carbohydrates) is the toughest thing to forage for, and is a primary reason why humans settled down 10,000 years ago to grow grain.” by Hank Shaw of www.honest-food.net
- ‘Acorns and the Forager’s Dilemma’ (the dilemma being the sourcing of starch) “Unless you are near a swamp, there is no easier way to collect sufficient starch for a whole year than to collect and process acorns. … acorns deserve a place in serious, modern cooking.” by Hank Shaw of www.honest-food.net
- Acorn Cake and Acorns Around the World by Hank Shaw of www.honest-food.net
- ‘Acorns & Eat ‘Em’ by Suellen Ocean. A whole acorn recipe book, free online: here
- “the use of acorns as a human food began declining in the early 1600’s as oak forests were cleared for annual crop production-in particular, for corn… It seems a shame that the food which once served as the staff of life to human cultures is now widely disregarded.” from ‘Acorns: The Grain That Grows on Trees’ ; Mother Earth News 1984
- “One of mankind’s oldest and most versatile staple foods” from Put More Fun (and Nutrition) Into Your Life: Eat Acorns! : Mother Earth News 1977
- A Greek initiative to produce acorn flour and oil and festivals, with acorn history and recipes on the website : www.ILoveAcorns.com
- “Acorns served an important role in early human history and were a source of food for many cultures around the world.” “Unlike many other plant foods, acorns do not need to be eaten or processed right away, but may be stored for a long time”. “Acorns are also sometimes prepared as a massage oil’! from Wikipedia, brilliant, as ever :http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acorn
- “…the acorn, prolific, nutritious … the world’s first staple. Even today the sweet fruit of evergreen oaks are nibbled as savouries in Spanish dehesas and the meal of southeast Asian acorns is made into a kind of tofu.” from ‘Oak: The Frame of Civilization’ by William Bryant Logan
- Korean acorn jelly : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dotorimuk. Also, Korean blog showing the process at home for grinding, detoxifying, straining starch to make dotorimuk here (the automatic translation for this on my computer is bizarre!). Korean acorn noodles :http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dotori_guksu
- An 1805 English recipe ‘To Make Acorn Bread’ : www.theoldfoodie.com/2010/03/is-for-bread.html
- “acorns are said to have been the main food of as many as 3/4 of our native Californians” from ‘Cooking with acorns – a North American Indian perspective’ :http://www.siouxme.com/acorn.htm
- “Some Native Peoples called acorns ‘grain from the tree'” from ‘Harvesting the wild: Acorns’ : Backwoods Home Magazine 2003
- ‘Acorns: The Inside Story’ by Green Deane of www.EatTheWeeds.com
- Yum?! Urine-cured acorns : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinook_olives
- Notes on acorns, from expert US forager Sam Thayer
For acorn bread, just replace about 1/4 of the flour with ground acorns. (We used a coffee mill)
‘Once acorns sprout, they are less nutritious, as the seed tissue converts to the indigestible lignins that form the root” from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acorn
Suellen Ocean, who wrote a very useful book Acorns and Eat ‘em,says she likes to collect Tanoak acorns in February and March, after many have begun sprouting. She says acorns with sprouts between 1-2 inches long are still good to eat, but discard any acorn meats that have turned green. ..Ocean says recently sprouted acorns a) have begun to turn their starch into sugar, and b) are foolproof: “If it is sprouted, it’s a good acorn and I haven’t wasted time gathering wormy ones.”
Workshop: Eating Acorns! Saturday 21 November 2015 1pm at the Meadow Orchard Project N8 8JD. (Link here to information about MOP & how to find it. Note the site has no electricity or running water. Please bring your own drinking water and eating utensils.)
In Blue Peter style, we’ll go through the stages of how to gather acorns and process them into flour, we’ll cook some acorn ‘mush’ together over a fire, and sample some acorn foods I made earlier. Free, all welcome, no need to book. Please be prompt and leave yourself time to find the site.
Sun Nov 30, 2014 @ 3pm Eating Acorns! Free workshop:
Have a go at grinding and cooking acorn flour, and sample acorn crisps, crackers, bread, dip, fruit leathers, sweets & cake.
Sat 26 October 2013 at 1pm
The Marian Room, Hornsey Parish Church, Cranley Gardens (eastern end), N10 3AH
Bus routes W7, W3, 144
start collecting now in preparation
Sat 29 Sep 2012
Meet at Queens Wood Cafe at 1:30pm. Google map here. Highgate tube station. Buses 134 & 43. [Queens Wood Lodge, 42 Muswell Hill Rd, N10 3JP.]
Chat about acorns, how to process and cook with them, then 2:30pm join the Friends of Queens Wood for a guided walk around this ancient oak & hornbeam woodland. We won’t be harvesting on the walk.