Friday, October 10, 2008

A better use for ACORN

This week's Friday Afternoon Cocktail is sponsored by ACORN.  When it comes to protecting the rights of non-existent people to vote absentee, nobody stuffs the registration rolls like ACORN.  They've succeeded in electing Christine Gregoire governor of Washington, and they've managed to increase voter registration in Indianapolis to 105%.  Just think what they could do in your neighborhood.

If you're careful with the rake and faster than a squirrel, underneath the oak leaves is pure gold.  Don't throw away the acorns.  Use them.

Jack Keller at the Winemaking Home Page has a recipe for acorn wine.

  • 1 cup chopped acorn meats
  • 2-1/2 lbs granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp acid blend
  • 1/2 tsp pectic enzyme
  • water to make up one gallon
  • 1 tsp yeast nutrient
  • Sauterne wine yeast

Shell and chop the acorn meats in a blender or food chopper. You need one cup of chopped acorn meats, not one cup of acorn meats chopped. You can use some of the water to aid in chopping them if necessary, although newly fallen acorns that are still slightly green are soft enough to chop without the water. Bring a quart of water to boil and add the chopped acorn meats. Adjust heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes. Put half the sugar in the primary and strain the acorn-water onto the sugar. Stir until thoroughly dissolved. Add remaining water to equal one gallon. When cooled to room temperature, add all igredients except yeast. Cover and set aside 12 hours. Add activated yeast, recover and ferment 5-7 days. Stir in remainder of the sugar until disolved and transfer to secondary. Fit airlock and ferment 30 days. Rack, top up and refit airlock every 60 days for 6 months. Stabilize, sweeten to taste, wait 10 days for dead yeast to fall out, and rack into bottles. May taste after 6 months. [Adapted from recipe by Nancy McCoy, as reported in Dorothy Alatorre's Home Wines of North America]

Dennis Lange at the Five Seasons Brewing Company tells the story of how the pilgrims had to make do with a certain ingredient to make beer.

Being the mother of invention, necessity forced them to look for other sources of sugars needed to brew a batch of beer. They tried potatoes, sweet potatoes and even corn (think of the nice picture from your grade school book of the Native Americans providing corn … so the pilgrims could get liquored up!). Strangely, the most successful of the local "grains" was acorns. You gotta be crazy to make a beer with acorns, not to mention desperate, but aside from the preponderance of worms, acorns contain almost the same starch makeup as malted barley. By substituting acorns for a portion of the malted barley to make beer, the pilgrims were able to make it through the first couple of winters, even though the beer was a bit nutty.