By Laura Killingbeck

I’ve spent most of my adult life living on farms where we grow or forage our own food, and this has made me look at the world differently.  Forest, fields, and farms are my grocery stores.  Snacks can be found in many unlikely places. 

Acorns are magical for many reasons, but especially because they are prolific and fall from the sky.  Okay, I realize they actually fall from oak trees.  But when you’re walking in the forest on a crisp fall day and an acorn bounces off your head, it really does feel like it’s raining food. 

Acorns are easy to gather, but they do need a little bit of processing to make them edible.  They have high levels of tannins which need to be leached out in water. In the past I’ve done a long, cold-water leaching technique that worked pretty well.  Other people bag up their acorns and let them soak in streams.  My friend Lu puts his in the back of an unused toilet and just flushes it once a day. This year I tried leaching acorns in boiling water, and this was definitely a win! 

Acorn Preparation:  Boiling Method

  • Gather 

Gather acorns as soon as they fall in the spring or autumn. Discard any that are soft or have insects. All oak acorn varieties are edible, but some are more palatable than others.  In the northeast, acorns from white oaks are particularly coveted. 

  • Dry 

Dry the acorns in the sun, by a fireplace, or in a food dehydrator until the meat of the nuts pulls away from the shells.

  1. Shell 

Put a large wooden cutting board on the ground and cover it with a layer of acorns. Put another board on top, and stand on it. Shift your weight back and forth to crack the shells.  Alternately, you could shell the acorns by hand or with a tool like the Davebilt nutcracker. 

  • Winnow

Once the acorns are all cracked open, put them in a bucket of water and scrunch them around with your hands.  The shells will separate and float to the top, while the meat sinks to the bottom.  Pour the shells off the top of the water.  Keep doing this process until only the acorn meat remains.

  • Boil and Leach

Put the acorns in a pot of water and boil them for about half an hour.  Strain out the old water and cover with more boiling water for another half hour. Repeat this process 3-6 times, or until the acorns taste nutty instead of bitter. 

  • Eat!

Once the acorns are boiled to your liking, they are ready to use and eat!  They taste great with a little sea salt and oil.  Sometimes I add a drizzle of maple syrup.  Some people roast them at this stage, to bring out more flavor.  Other people grind them, dry them, and pulverize them into a flour for baking. This year, I decided to experiment with acorn pie!  Check out a couple of my favorite recipes below. 

Acorn and Applesauce Pie
Makes 1 pie


2 eggs
1 cup boiled acorns, chopped
½ cup unrefined cane sugar
½ cup butter, melted
1 cup applesauce
2 tbs flour
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 tbs lemon juice
½ of a whole nutmeg, finely grated
1 pre-baked 9 inch pie crust 


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix ingredients together in a bowl and pour over your pre-baked pie crust. 
  3. Bake 30-40 minutes or until a fork is removed without trace.

Acorn Pecan Pie with No Pecans
Makes 1 pie


1 pre-baked 9 inch pie crust
2 and ½ cups acorns, boiled and chopped
5 tbs butter, melted and slightly cooled
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 tbs all-purpose flour
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp sea salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup maple syrup


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. After pre-baking your pie crust, spread the acorns inside and set aside. 
  3. Whisk the melted butter, brown sugar, and flour together in a large bowl until combined and thick. Whisk in the vanilla extract, salt, eggs, and maple syrup until combined. Pour evenly over the acorns. 
  4. Bake the pie for 40-50 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned.
  5. Remove finished pie from the oven and sprinkle sea salt on top. Place on a wire rack to cool completely. The pie filling will set as it cools.