Acorns were consumed by both the Ancient Greeks and early Japanese, especially among the poor who used acorns during famines. Archaeological digs show that Iron Age Iberians also used acorns as one of their staple foods.
According to historical documents, acorns were eaten in England and France during the Middle Ages as substitutes for bread. The acorns were boiled and mashed to make them easier to eat.
Acorns were widely consumed among Native Americans who used a variety of methods to get rid of the seed’s bitterness. For example, the Louisiana Choctaw made acorn flour then washed it with running water. Other tribes used similar methods such as soaking the flour or burying the whole acorns in swampy areas before pounding them. Acorn varieties consumed by Native Americans included those from white and chestnut oaks as well as acorns from the water oak.
The Native Americans used acorn flour in a variety of bread and porridges.
Today, acorn flour is relatively rare but is still used to make a type of Korean noodle that also includes flour made from grain. It is also undergoing a revival in some parts of the world, including Greece where it has been reintroduced on the island of Kea. The reintroduction has not been without controversy. The historical association with famine and poverty has resulted in a stigma attached to acorn consumption in some places. In Greece, it is still viewed by some as a poor person’s food.
Acorn flour flavor profile
Acorn flour starts out very bitter because of the tannins it contains. The type of oak tree that the acorns came from and the method used to leach the tannins both help to determine the flavor profile of acorn flour. For example, acorn flour made from white oak acorns is not as bitter as flour made from red oak acorns.
Health benefits of acorn flour
Acorn flour has been a staple in many different civilizations throughout history because of its nutritional value, which results from valuable compounds like:
- Minerals: Acorn flour is a good source of several important minerals including calcium and magnesium.
- Antioxidants: Acorns contain antioxidants that prevent cell damage caused by free radicals.
- Vitamins: Acorn flour contains significant amounts of B vitamins per serving. You can get niacin, thiamin, and riboflavin from it. It is an especially good source of pyridoxine, which is otherwise known as vitamin B6. Modest amounts of vitamins A and E are present as well.
The nutrients in acorn flour allow it to be beneficial for treating or preventing conditions like:
- Diabetes: Acorn flour is a low glycemic index food, which means that it doesn’t cause the potentially dangerous blood sugar spikes that can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Indigestion: The fiber in acorn flour can help to improve gut health by encouraging the growth of helpful bacteria.
- Inflammation: The antioxidants in acorn flour can help to decrease inflammation and thus provide relief from inflammatory conditions as well as serious illnesses like cancer and heart disease. Studies on rats have shown that acorn extracts were able to reduce inflammation.
Acorn flour may be used to make cookies, bread, and cakes. You can use it on its own or combine it with other flours to alter the texture. Note that acorn flour makes crumbly baked goods so you will need to add in a gluten-rich flour to get softer bread.