Put the things together as shown in exhibit A. Remember to save squash seeds! Bake everything with oil and salt and spices. Bake squash seeds separately though, they’ll want to hang out toasty extra long but the chickpeas and Brussels only want to go in for a little while. For sauce, combine all ingredients then titrate warm water until it becomes sauce. If you are super cool and have dukka, also add that, especially with hazelnuts 👌. Enjoy (put sauce and dukka on other things and then eat it)!
Acorns have great potential as a staple food. This may seem like it takes a lot of processing, but compared with conventional staple food sources with similar nutritional profiles and palatability, this and many other tree crops require less energy overall to enjoy, potentially require less capital as a cost-of-entry, and have numerous co-benefits. This calls for a different culture however, as there’s a shift in where much of the energy is expended in enjoying regional nuts and trees for basic needs:
In conventional systems, energy use and negative externalities occur “Not In My Backyard“, in rural areas and in far away oil and fertilizer producing places. In systems offering greater food sovereignty, resilience, and positive externalities, energy use is brought closer to the point of consumption and after the point of sale.
Shelf stability of acorns highlights a trade-off of this shift in the point of energy use to enjoy the crop: acorns and many nuts are very shelf stable, but when they’re processed enough to be ready to eat (e.g. as acorn tortillas or roasted hazelnuts) they become less shelf stable. This is not a critical issue, as acorn flour and many value-added nut products can last for weeks dried or refrigerated and be preserved for months or maybe years frozen. This trade-off affects the culture of use and markets for local nut crops:
Tree nuts are long-lasting, resilient, more intimate staple foods which require more labor close-to-home, but
tree for basic needs also bring home closer with the source of one’s well-being and being well in ecological mutualism with that which supports oneself.
And with this in mind, I give thanks to Osker Brown and Living Web Farm for the information below about acorns for landscapes and livelihoods.
Distribution of time for tasks to enjoy acorns:
1/3 labor gathering and drying
1/3 labor cracking, leaching, processing
1/3 labor quality control, removing nuts with signs of mold
Gather & quality-control red oaks, dry, store in-shell . . . here is a very informative video series, starting specifically at part 5 which details home and community-scale acorn gathering.
Ready to prep for meals? De-shell red oak acorns using hammer, nut cracker, nut crucible…or for large home-scale (e.g. ‘5lbs batch weekly for two months’), Davebilt #43 nut mill has been found effective and robust.
Sort and quality-control, winnowing kernels from shells. Discard kernels that are not a shade of brown whether dark or cream colored, e.g. remove nut meat colored white, yellow, green, or blue), discard shells for mulch or fuel or tanning.
Leech (various methods) until astringent flavor is no longer noticeable when tasting nuts. Dry. Break down further into flour using food processor or similar methods. To begin with cut with 50:50 all-purpose flour and use as you would all-purpose flour. Acorn flour can replace all purpose flour for many recipes.
An improvement to this video’s recipe: the acorn mash/flour should have been dried (at least squeeze-dried in cloth) after final decanting, prior to cooking. That way the pancakes would not have fallen apart.
This is a basic plan for small-scale black walnut food sourcing. From gathering to use this entire setup can easily cost under $50 for black walnuts as a perennial food source, not including time or recommended ergonomic $100 Master Nut Cracker or better equipment to facilitate tree crop use and enjoyment. Many parts of this process are mulit-purpose and reusable.
This guide is intended to help the formation of small-scale black walnut cooperative enterprises, where people can work together to realize the abundance of tree crops. There are also farm-scale methods of cracking, sorting, and processing black walnuts, and value added products made using these nuts open many doors to enjoying this abundant nutritious food source. In some regions like around Hammons Black Walnuts in Missouri, there are more industrious scales and businesses for enjoying this tree crop. These nuts can be enjoyed simply as is or with enhancement – naturally suited to be sweet or savory – storing well and connecting us with age-old beings and traditions that are in our blood. A food for good living in good or bad times. May our relationship with this food source be accessible, equitable, and harmonious for all.
Black walnut trees are common in Central New York and thrive in a wide range. They provide timber and nutritious food. They begin fruiting in 5-10 years of age. Conserve those tree allies and their diverse communities that are present with us, propagate and cultivate future generations and enjoy them honorably. We can live in mutual benefit with the source of this regenerative food and with each other.
Gather nuts from a prolific and ideally free source, which are common in many places. Nut gatherers in the Ithaca, NY area reported that while in season, they stopped and visited trees when they’d see an abundance of nuts on the ground and were able to gather 10-15 gallons per minute. With various short visits to different trees, hundreds of gallons of nuts can be gathered. An abundance of medicinal and regenerative food growing on beautiful timber trees.
Stir all ingredients together in a small saucepan on medium heat, preferably covered. Stir occasionally. Enjoy once warm, no need to boil; don’t let the mixture go beyond a simmer.
This is a very rich chocolate drink with a pleasant nutty taste. The sweetness and richness of the chocolate helps moderate the potentially intense hazelnut favor.
Happy to have a hazelnut catkins growin’ and ready this year – hopefully we’ll have hazelnuts here next summer! We just planted our second hazel, which means the two can pollinate one another and both produce nuts.
The Alchemical Nursery Project has teamed up with the folks at ChelseaGreen Publishing to offer one lucky person the chance to win Forage, Harvest, Feast by celebrated New York City forager, cook, kitchen gardener, and writer Marie Viljoen.
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Thank you for following and supporting The Alchemical Nursery Project, follow this link to enter until November 25th:
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