- Bram van Munster
- Site Admin
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- Location: the Netherlands
Are you a coffee lover?
Are you into gathering your own food and drinks?
Then this is a great one for you, acorn coffee. Well, it is, if you're also ready to put in the work that is involved. To me, the surprising taste I got after trying this for the first time really put a smile on my face.
When you go to a forest that contains oak trees, you're bound to find many acorns.
Before you go and indulge yourself, I want you to know that acorns contain a lot of tannine. Even though tannine is responsible for giving coffee and tea their quality experience, you can easily get too much of it, so do not make this beverage if you're sensitive or allergic to tannine or acorns in general. Wikipedia about tannin and Wikipedia about acorns.
When you go out in the forest to collect the acorns, be very selective. The ones that either have tiny holes in them, or are soft / squeezable, are the ones you do not want. The tiny holes are made by maggots, and the acorns you can squeeze are already being eaten from the inside, so leave them in the forest as food for squirrels or compost material. The acorns you want have a hard shell and 'are allowed' to wear their caps. They are best collected in or around October, when they've got the dark brown color and have dropped from the trees. You best be quick about collecting though, or the squirrels will beat you to it. Finders keepers!
When you got a nice big bag at home, go over them again, separating the caps from the nuts if you haven't done so yet. Put the acorns in a bit pot of water, and boil them for at least 15 minutes. This gets rid of excess tannine you don't want and kills off maggots you missed in the forest, so keep them submerged. As the water level will lowers, add more water. After the 15 minutes (or longer), drain them.
Native Americans used to wash the acorns for a few days in a fast flowing river, but as we are way to hasty nowadays, we boil them.
Another advantage of boiling the acorns is that the shell gets somewhat softer. That comes in handy, as the next part is to separate the shells from the actual nuts inside. Feel free to use a knife if you're comfortable with that.
Keep peeling them until you have a oven tray full of them, but make sure to keep the shell bits out. Also, check again for the little holes or soft nuts, as this is the last time to check for a nasty surprise in the coffee. Even though you killed the maggots while boiling, there can still be a few left, and believe me, they don't taste right after you made the actual coffee.
Preheat your oven at 180°C (356°F) and put the tray in. Keep an eye on the nuts, and move them around as needed to get an even roast. (read: color) The duration is different per oven. It also depends on the amount of nuts on your tray and the moist that's left in them. Patient people let the nuts dry for a week in the sun, but we don't, as we want our coffee! They're done when you get a lovely roasted, nutty smell.
Next, you need to grind the nuts. The method is up to you. Some people use mortar and pestle, other full grown kitchen machines such as hand held grinders or blenders. Which ever method you want to use, keep the lid on or a cloth over the grinder, as the nuts will fly out and go for your eyes. Also, keep in mind this can get quite loud, as if you've got a few shovels of gravel in the washing machine while it is centrifuging.
When it has about the same consistency as normal coffee, put the result back on the oven tray, and back in the oven. This time, move the coffee around about once a minute to ensure an even roast, and keep doing that until you have about the same color as regular, store bought coffee. Let it cool after that.
I love using a percolator to make my coffee, but feel free to use a normal one. Use about a tablespoon and a half of your acorn coffee per cup of coffee, or two for a mug. Make the coffee in the regular way, and enjoy!
No, there is no caffeine in this, so it's not the same as actual coffee, but it comes REALLY close if you ask me!