A little oil gets the wheels turning
After the White oak acorns were cured processed and set aside I now turned to the black oak acorns. As I mentioned earlier I kept these separate. I had never fooled with acorns to this extent. I had heard that the red oaks were 10% oils and the blacks were up to 30% oil. I found that hard to believe so I thought I’d have a go at it. This time, when I cracked out the acorns the meats came out a beautiful yellow color. I later found out that the darker the yellow/ orange the acorn meat the more the oil content. Not only that, the fragrance of the nut meats was pleasant and distinctive. As with the whites, I separated the cracked halves from the halve-nots in a bucket of water and skimmed off most of these hats and shells and dried the meats down again.
I borrowed a small table top “”Piteba” oil press that didn’t work at all on walnuts and on my first attempt it didn’t work on black oak acorns either. I did some research on you tube and this guy had put some good thought into it and I made a simple modification of the device.
This time it worked like a charm. Unbelievably so. I was completely flabbergasted at how the oil came pouring out of the crude little press. I had measured the amount of acorns I started with and made measurements along the way. I started with 5 lbs of acorns including the hats and shells and after shelling I was left with 2.19 lbs of meats. These, meats in turn yielded 6 oz of oil and the difference in dry meal, which can be used for flour. Every bit as remarkable of the yield was the smell, flavor and mouth feel of the oil. Unique, aromatic, very buttery with hints of butterscotch quite a lot like a liquid ghee. It would hold its own against olive oil only better because this is a switch hitting oil. You can go savory or you can go sweet. I would never put olive oil on yogurt or a pancake but I’d do it in a heartbeat with acorn oil.
Imagine an oil that is grown in our temperate climate without any cultivation or agricultural inputs. Yes that is right- a high quality, tasty, local, organic, temperate, vegetable oil that grows on perennial trees without any care what so ever! I can’t quite figure out why more people don’t know about this resource. Of all of the oak geeks I have talked to who work grafting and selecting oak cultivars have taken no interest in the black oak family. There has been a predisposition towards the white oaks because they contain less tannin and some can actually be eaten out of hand without the need for any processing. The idea of harvesting oil has been completely neglected, at least by the white man. “Is the oil bitter like acorn?” You may ask. Excellent question. No, tannin is water soluble and doesn’t come out in the oil. It is the same for bitternut hickories which can be processed as well for its respective extraordinary product.
Making flour out of white oaks was impressive, but getting oil of the likes that I did from the blacks and the simplicity and elegance of the process hints at previously unforetold opportunities. This really got teh wheels in my head spinning.