A N C E S T R A L N O U R I S H M E N T
Acorns are the food of our ancestors. If you are of European, Asian, or North African descent, or are indigenous to Turtle Island, then you are here today, at least in part, because those who came before you had the patience, presence, and persistence to collect and process acorns. Acorns have historically been a staple food for peoples across the globe, and as such, they provide a direct connection to those whose ancestors subsisted on them.
Acorns are as labor intensive to process as they are abundant. It's incredible to reflect on the countless generations who undertook this process every autumn to survive so that we could be here today. This is what has struck me most in the hours and days I have spent collecting, drying, shelling, peeling, grinding, leaching, and drying my acorns. The devotion with which our ancestors tended to these wild sources of nourishment is truly humbling. As I survey the earth around my home, the acorns are too many to count. I could spend the next week collecting them all day every day, and still, there would be more. The generosity of the Oak is unequaled.
Gathering acorns is an intensely intimate act. Combing fingers through dry leaves and feeling the moisture of the autumn earth through the knees of my jeans, I recognize that this land wants to nourish me, and all I have to do is slow down, show up, and say yes. The mature acorns, free of their caps and ripe upon the ground, are a dusky purple beneath a fine layer of oak velvet. Their texture in my hand feels so immediate, so honest—it soothes me.
While the act of processing acorns is almost absurdly time consuming by modern standards, it is also absolutely worthwhile, particularly when undertaken in community. The experience of collecting, cracking, and shelling acorns with friends awakens something fundamentally human. Recently, after sharing a meal with a friend, we turned our attention to the bounty I'd collected. As we did, we spoke of the people we came from, sharing what we knew of them and inviting them to move through us as our hands touched shell and nutmeat, separating the edible interiors from their sturdy casing.
Acorns contain all eight essential amino acids. They are high in potassium, iron, and manganese, as well as vitamins A and E. Eaten regularly, acorns help to nourish the skin, support nervous system functioning, promote fertility, reduce systemic inflammation, and fight free-radical damage.
However, they also contain phytic acid, which binds to minerals in the gut and prevents their absorption. These same compounds can induce severe constipation, and if consumed in significant quantities over time can damage the kidneys. So, after collecting, drying, and shelling acorns, it is essential to leach them of their tannins. To transform acorns into the nutritious food they have the potential to be, leaching is an essential step— even for acorns that are not intensely bitter.
Acorn flour is incredibly nourishing and absolutely delicious. When prepared as described below, it can be used in place of wheat flour in any baked good as well as homemade pasta. Read on for a step by step guide to the full process along with an overview of the physical medicine, magical uses, spiritual teachings, and lore of the Oak.