Intro: ACORN Coffee
Well, I've heard about this for years and being into bushcrafting I've always fancied trying it out for myself.
Earlier this year when I noticed a good acorn crop from several mighty oaks, I thought I'd give it a go.
* Just a note though: Thanks to some great responses by my viewers I would like to add Acorns contain a lot of tannin and need to be prepared to remove the excess before using.
On the good side though tannin gives them a tea and coffee-like quality and they were much used to make drinks in the past. Traditionally the acorns would have been shelled and soaked in a river for several days to leach out the tannins before being roasted.
Here's a wiki link to tell you more about it "http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acorn"
Now, this acorn coffee doesn't actually dissolve like normal instant coffee so it does need to either go through a cafetiere or a coffee machine. Or even put it in a cut off section of tights, wrap a string round the top and use that as an infuser.
Step 1: COLLECT THE ACORNS
It's best to wait for the acorns to drop from the tree when they're brown, but you have to be quick as the cheeky squirrels are ready to gobble them up. Also if they've been lying on the ground too long you get little holes and maggots in them.
Gather them up and pop them in a bowl when you get back home. Clear away any cups or leaves etc and just have a closer look to see if they're ok. Any split, soft damaged or holy ones just discard, we threw them back in the woods for the squirrels.
Put a large pan on the stove, put the acorns in and fill it with water so it covers them. * Bring to boil and boil for 15mins, topping up the water if you need to. This will kill any maggots in them that you've missed and also soften the shell for easier shelling. Also this will remove the tannin in the acorns making them good to go.
Step 2: SHELLING THE ACORNS
Tip into colander and allow to cool then make a cuppa as the next bits gonna take a while.
Although the boiling would have softened the shells somewhat, they are little tinkers to peel. I ended up with using a big knife to cut them in half and pop the nuts out. I started with myself and my 2 kids and a while later ended up just myself. It's a pain, but gotta be done.
Step 3: A LOT OF ACORNS LATER
Time passed and before long I ended up with a decent sized oven tray of just nuts and loads of discarded shells.
Again, this is a good chance to visually inspect your acorns as you may have missed the odd hole in some earlier. Softer ones, discard as there WILL BE a grub / maggot in there, or its been in there and left it bad.
Step 4: SORTING OUT & ROASTING
Any ones that we are discarding we are taking back to the wood to give the squirrels a tasty treat.
Shells and all as they will all rot down and add nutrients to the soil. If you take, you have to give and thank the trees for sharing their bounty.
Then put the tray with nuts on in a preheated oven, about 180oC to roast. Keep checking them and moving them about so they roast evenly. You could leave the peeled nuts to dry for a couple of days before you do this, but we really couldn't be bothered to wait that long and so roasting took a little longer.
The time would all depend on your oven and quantity of nuts, its not rocket science, they're just nuts, keep an eye on them and pull them out when they look like dried nuts, slightly darker in colour and a lovely nutty smell.
Step 5: GRIND
When they're ready, it's time to grind them down.
I don't have a posh coffee grinder thingy so I put a few handfuls in a jug, shoved a hand blender in with a cloth over the top.
And off we go. They make a right racket, sounds like your chopping stones, but really satisfying all the same.
Keep going through your stash and don't pull the cloth off whilst you're doing it as THEY FLY OUT EVERYWHERE :-)
Step 6: ROAST AGAIN
When you've done your stash, tip them onto the oven tray again and pop them back into the oven.
This time, watch them more carefully as they will roast alot faster as they're smaller. Keep mixing them around to ensure even roasting.
The smell is really nice, roasting nuts kinda smell.
Step 7: CAN YOU GUESS
I roasted mine until it was the same colour as a popular brand of coffee which we drink and then pulled the tray out of the oven and set it aside to cool.
Which one is the Acorn coffee do you think, left or right..?!?
Step 8: DRINK TIME
It was the one on the left. But there really wasn't that much in it.
I used 1 1/2 tsp of Roasted Acorn Coffee and put it in my coffee maker once it had cooled.
It splurted out a deliciously smelling, dark looking coffee like hot drink.
Now I'm not actually a coffee lover, I love the smell, but find the taste a little too bitter for my liking, I'm a TEA drinker and always have been. I'll have a coffee, but it has to have a lot of milk in it for me to enjoy it.
Oh my goodness, I really enjoyed my mug of Acorn coffee, it was pleasant and satisfying without any bitter taste, it had similarities to coffee, but being as its not coffee it didn't taste like coffee, but it was really nice.
We all tasted it black first and it was pleasant, but once we had added a little milk to it, it was yummy.
Step 9: ROASTED ACORN COFFEE
Try it and see for yourself.
Acorns are freely available now (October) and if you've got the patience to peel the little blighters, they really are enjoyable as a warming drink on a cool autumns eve.
Thanks for reading and hope you've enjoyed my Acorn coffee instructable.
DISCLAIMER: It may not be for everyone, if you've never had acorns before, do the safe taste test by rubbing a bit on your lip and waiting to see if there's any reaction etc, then your tongue, if you're sure you're not allergic to it then its upto you. By making and consuming it you do so at your own risk.
I've made it, I've drank it. My families drank it and we're all A-ok. It's upto you.
I've also found this link "http://www.grandpappy.info/racorns.htm" which is REALLY INTERESTING and thought I'd share it with you too.