If we look attentively, we find many food sources which, with a bit of work can be turned into delicious meals and snacks.
This recipe, shared with us by Jesper Feenstra and Miguel Llorente, is to ferment the acorns. From here, use your culinary imagination to make, for instance, acorn tapenade!
A. First step: collect the acorns. Then put them in a bucket of water (spring water if possible, no chlorine). Tap water works only in countries and areas with relatively unprocessed water (for instance the Netherlands). Most of the bad acorns with worms, will float. Remove those and discard the water.
B. Fermenting the Acorns. You can ferment them in a number of ways:
Without removing hard shell
First step is preparing the water and salt. For every litre of water, you add between 50 and 60 grams of salt. Dissolve it first, and then add the acorns. Close the lid of the container but not too tightly (so that insects cannot get in, but it allows for breathing). After 6-7 months the fermentation will be ready for making spreads, but then first do peel the hard shells off. Note: this method has proven most unreliable. Success not guaranteed from my (Jesper) experiments.
With removed hard shell - only SALT
Salt: use natural (‘wet’) sea salt. I use Celtic sea salt.
Peel the shells off the acorns first. This can be done quite easily for instance, by putting the acorns in a mortar and hitting them on their top with the pestle. They should split easily. The acorns you use should look fresh and beige.
For the fermenting process, grab a large enough container or bowl of some kind. I use a 3-litre jar. A broad/wide opening is most practical. Start with adding a layer of salt, followed by a layer of acorns. Keep adding acorns until you almost reach the top of the container. First and last layers should be salt.
Then place a lid in the container, or something that fits right in, and place a weight on top that presses down the whole. Then wait about two or two and half months. They are ready when you cannot detect any bitterness. If you still detect some bitterness, leave it fermenting a while longer.
After the fermentation is ready you could eat them straight away, but they can be a little hard. So you might want to soak them for a few hours. Good to rinse anyways to discard of the surplus of salt. You can reuse the salt, but make sure to store it quite dry
C. Making pâtés / spreads.
After fermenting (both ways 1. and 2.) you basically have a sourdough, which you can use to ferment any other nut. Miguel has not tried this with chestnut, but with many other dry nuts like almond, hazel – but also with seeds like sunflower seeds, linseed etc.
Now you put together about 10% of fermented acorn (10% at the minimum; more is possible – up to 100%), and up to 90% of other raw nuts and seeds. Hard nuts should be soaked overnight beforehand; discard the water used for soaking.
Add seasoning and some water –otherwise the blender won’t work– and then blend the whole. Depending on the size of your blender, maybe it is best if you mix well all the ingredients in a bowl, and then blend the contents over a few courses. The resulting paste should not be looking dry and should also not be ‘really’ wet.
Then… voila! You now have a paste that you can put in a glass jar, or container. Close the lid, but not too tightly, so it can breathe. Keep it outside of the fridge. Now in two, three or four days the contents will expand, depending on the ambient temperature. You will see a few bubbles in the paste. Then it is ready.
You can keep it in the fridge for months!
At the Tribal Wisdom foundation, we welcome any type of contribution which brings us to more natural living. Food is a huge part of it and we encourage making choices about food sources outside the supermarkets, taking steps towards a zero-waste kitchen and taking advantage of the abundance of our natural environment.
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