The Language of Trees | Acorn Bread Recipe

Katie Holten

The Language of Trees: A Rewilding of Literature and Landscape, is a captivating anthology that draws inspiration from nature to encourage readers to explore an imaginative language for better understanding and connecting with the environment. Through her tree alphabet, author Katie Holten presents a collection of beautifully illustrated and thoughtful writings that celebrate the natural world and inspire readers to reclaim their relationship with it.

The following excerpt, Acorn Bread Recipe, is written by Lucy O’Hagan.

Find an oak tree in late autumn. Touch the ridges of their wrinkled bark and say hello. Look on the ground to see if they have dropped their seed–the deliciously smooth and chocolate brown acorn. Within each one lies the potential wisdom of a new oak tree.

Gather them in your basket, skirt or arms, and watch as the squirrels do the same. Bring them home and lay them out somewhere warm to dry completely–careful they don’t touch one another, lest the fungi take hold and consume the bunch!

Once dry, you can rattle them and hear the seed’s movement within the shell. Crack open the shell with a mortar and pestle, revealing the not-yet-ready-to-eat seed. This will be covered by a bitter papery membrane which needs to be removed. Rub them between a tea towel to loosen the membrane and then either peel it off with your hands or put them in a bucket of water where the membrane can float to the surface.

Now time to leach! Acorns are full of tannins-clever compounds which make them too bitter to eat straight off the tree. Grind the acorns to increase the surface area and put your grinds into a mesh bag. Now immerse this bag into flowing water which will carry off the cannins, leaving you with deliciously nutty acorn mush. Alternatively, you can boil chem in a pot of water for ten minutes, strain and boil again in fresh water. Repeat this process until the water runs clear.

Dry, then toast on a pan to enhance that delicious nutty flavor and grind it into a fine four. Hey presto, you’re now able to make your acorn bread!

Combine your acorn flour with water, salt or add honey. Form small balls with the mixture and press flat. Bake on a hot stone, roof tile or pan over the fire. Serve with blackberry jam, birch syrup or tree nuts and honey.

The wisdom of the oak now resides in your body!

Lucy O’Hagan’s “Acorn Bread Recipe” was first shared at the Wild Awake hearth. Wildawake. ie. Reprinted here courtesy of the author. Excerpted from The Language of Trees: A Rewilding of Literature and Landscape by Katie Holten. Used with permission of Tin House. Copyright (c) 2023 by Katie Holten.

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