Now that the raft trip is behind us, I have started to turn my attention to some of the other requirements for the Pioneering honor. One of them is for us to make flour from an edible wild plant. When we did this honor four years ago, we used clover flowers (dry them at a low temperature in the oven, and then use a mortar & pestle to grind it up). That made a very acceptable flour. We mixed it 50/50 with wheat flour and made pancakes.
This year I want to try it with acorns. Unfortunately, almost all of the oaks on my place are red oaks, which make for more bitter acorns. White oaks are far better. But I will use what I can easily get.
I gathered about a gallon of them today after work. I read recently that a float test will tell which ones have worms in them, and which ones do not. I’m going to try that and see.
Once they are sorted, they have to be shelled and then soaked in several changes of water. Acorns are very high in tannin, which makes them bitter (and red oaks are far richer in tannin than white oaks). Water will leach out the tannin and make them palatable. Or so I have read.
Once the bitterness is gone (you can tell by tasting), they can be ground up and dried, and then used as flour. Again, the flour can be mixed with wheat flour, but that might be less necessary than it was with clover. Acorns were a staple of the Native American diet.
If it turns out OK, then I’ll have to figure out how I want the kids in the Pathfinder Club to do this. We obviously won’t be able to soak the acorns in several changes of water over a period of several days during a meeting. I might take the cooking show approach, where we go through the steps with one batch, and then have another batch or two already at the next stage – that way all we skip is the waiting. But since I’ve never done this before, I need to give it a try before I teach the kids how!