If you have ever processed black walnuts you may be hesitant to ever attempt to use other foraged nuts. I am happy to report that acorns are much easier to use! This was a good year for acorns as not every year produces an abundance. It has been said that trees produce a lot in advance of a bad winter. That remains to be seen! I have noticed that it runs in a three year cycle, two being few nuts while the third being prolific.
You really want large nuts with small caps. The smaller the cap the less bitter due to tannin. Look for a white oak tree. It has the traditional oak leaf but with rounded edges. Unfortunately, all we have locally, that I can find, is red oak. Red oak works but will require a longer soak to remove the bitterness.
Collect your acorns. Try to collect as soon as they fall and not after they have sat on the ground for a long time. Examine the nut to be sure the shell is intact and has no holes. Some people will put the nuts in water and toss those that float as those may have worms. Spread out and allow to dry for several weeks or you can speed this up with a dehydrator or low oven. This shrinks the nut and makes it easier to shell.
Use a nut cracker and remove the shells. Shells are thin and crack easily.
Acorns generally come out whole without much effort. Acorns should have a brown exterior with a white interior. Throw out any that are black. Have a knife handy to cut suspect acorns in half to be sure they are good.
Soak whole nuts overnight to soften. Drain. Liquid will have tannins in it.
Place nuts in a strainer that fits into another larger pot. I used a steamer pot that has holes on the bottom which I placed into a large pot. This way you can just lift the pot out to strain and add more water for the next soak.
Soak in hot water but not boiling. I used hot tap water. If you boil it, it will change the texture. It will cook the starch and will no longer clump together in baking. Change the water frequently. I planned it for a day when I was already going to be in the kitchen canning so about every hour for a day the water was changed. Taste for bitterness. By the end of the day, it was nearly bland enough. I set it to soak overnight and by the next day it was ready. Strain
Spread out nuts to dry. You can use a dehydrator or warm oven. I used my oven set at 115 degrees. It took a day to completely dry.
Once dry, grind into powder. A small coffee grinder works great!
Store in your refrigerator or freezer for best results.
This was far less labor intensive than processing black walnuts which is a dirty and time consuming process with little to show in my opinion. Acorns take time but are easy to process and produce a beautiful flour.
If you are local to Nashville, Tennessee, check out Vanderbilt's campus for an abundance of acorns. The acorn is the school emblem for a reason.