How to Grind Acorns into Flour (and Make Pancakes Out of It)

Make like a squirrel and rustle up some nuts for this forager’s flour

When I was 11 or 12 years old, I read a book called My Side of the Mountain It's a story about a 15 year old boy who runs away from his home in New York City to live in the Catskill Mountains. He lives in the wilderness for a whole year, surviving off the land. One of the things he did while out in the woods was grind acorn flour, and make pancakes with it. I remember reading that at the time and wanting to try it. Well, 30 years later, I have finally gone through the process and can now say that I've also made pancakes out of acorn flour.

The process for making flour out of acorns isn’t actually very difficult, but it is time consuming and a little tedious at times.

Gather the Nuts

A 1-gallon bucket of acorns
A 1-gallon bucket of collected acorns.Jamie Carlson

The first step is to gather up about a gallon of acorns. We have an abundant acorn crop this year in Minnesota (which means it will probably be a good year for squirrels, too). I had my niece Esther go around her yard and fill a one-gallon ice cream pail with fallen acorns. This was the easiest part.

Remove the Caps

A bowl of uncapped acorns
A bowl of acorns with their caps removedJamie Carlson

Remove the caps from the nuts. This took me about one whole Game of Thrones episode.

Shell the Acorns

Nutmeat of a shelled acorn
The nutmeat of a shelled acorn.Jamie Carlson

Place the acorns in the freezer overnight. This helps keep them fresh, and it also helps make it easier to crack them. There’s a paper-like membrane around the nut and inside the shell; when you freeze them, that papery layer comes off the nut cleanly and leaves just the meat of the nut. The nuts will oxidize quickly, so it’s important to toss the nutmeat into water so they don’t turn brown.

Blend the Acorns

Blended acorn nutmeat and water
Blending acorn nutmeat and water.Jamie Carlson

After you have shelled all the nuts into water, transfer the water and the nutmeat into a blender. Blend on high for several minutes.

Leach the Tannins

Soaking acorns in water to leach out tannins
Soaking acorns in water to leach out the bitter tannins.Jamie Carlson

Then transfer the blended nuts and water to a large container. Place it in the fridge overnight. All the blended acorn paste will settle, allowing you to pour off the water. Add more water and stir the water and acorn paste. Place it back in the fridge and let sit for another day. Acorns typically taste bitter, so by changing the water every day for 3 to 4 days, you can leach out that bitterness.

Drain and Spread the Paste

Blended acorn paste on parchment paper
Blended acorn paste, on parchment paper.Jamie Carlson

Pour off all the water one last time and then pour the paste onto cheesecloth, or use a clean towel and wring as much moisture out of the acorn paste as you can. Spread the paste out on a parchment-lined baking sheet and place it in the oven at its lowest setting with the door cracked open. You need to dry out the acorn paste until it is absolutely dry. As it dries, you can stir it and turn it over to help speed the process.

Grind the Paste

A grinder or food processor to refine the paste
Use a grinder or food processor to refine the paste.Jamie Carlson

When the acorn paste is completely dry, it will be kind of clumpy. If you have a grinder you can grind the acorns into flour or you can use a food processor or blender. This should result in a fine flour, but you may still have some larger pieces.

Sift the Flour

Sifting ground acorns
Sift the ground acorns. Use a mortar and pestle to break up remaining large chunks.Jamie Carlson

Using a fine mesh sieve, sift the flour so that any debris or large clumps are separated. If you want, you can use a mortar and pestle to break up these remaining clumps.

Sift it Again

A second sift of the acorn flour
A second, finer sift of the acorn flour.Jamie Carlson
Acorn flour
The resulting acorn flour.Jamie Carlson

At this point, you should have roughly three cups of flour. How you use it will be up to you. I had to make pancakes first, and let me tell you—they were the most satisfying pancakes I have ever eaten.

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Acorn Pancakes

Acorn-flour pancakes
Acorn-flour pancakes.Jamie Carlson

Ingredients

1 cup acorn flour
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons maple sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 ¼ cups whole milk
3 tablespoons canola oil

Directions

Combine all ingredients, then pour onto a skillet over medium heat and cook until bubbles form on top. Flip the pancakes over and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes more. Serve with butter and syrup, and enjoy.