No Impact Week & Acorn Bread

Recently I led the last foraging tour of the season for Green Edge NYC. We found spicebush (Lindera benzoin)

spicebushamong other delectable wild edibles. The pulp and skin can be dried separately from the seed to create two different spices (the skin/pulp is similar to allspice, the seed peppery). To be honest, I usually take the lazy route and dry them whole.

I’ll be leading foraging tours for Green Edge again starting up next spring.

Meanwhile, it’s been a great autumn so far for foraging wild edible plants and mushrooms. I’ve found maitake, puffball, and ringless honey mushrooms, those spicebush berries, and much more. Check out my friend Ellen’s incredible recent foraging haul.

The oak trees are having what is called a “mast year,” which means that they are putting out copious amounts of acorns. They are labor-intensive to prepare, requiring numerous changes of boiling water. You can cut down the labor quite a bit by only harvesting acorns from the white oak group, versus the black and red group. How to tell the difference? White oaks have rounded margins on their lobed leaves; black and red oaks have pointy lobes. The white oaks have fatter nutmeats, fewer tannins and require less processing.

Anyway, the basic process is similar to preparing chestnuts. Cut a slit or an X in the semi-soft shell. Boil. Peel while still hot (both acorns and chestnuts get harder to peel when cool). Keep boiling in changes of water until the water is fairly clear.

Is it worth it? Well, I once gave a sample of my acorn bread to a local gourmet foods store and they wanted to know if I was interested in going commercial. And at a recent wild edible plants tour most people came back for seconds of my acorn spicebush bread.

acornspice-bread

Yeah, I’m bragging but also saying that yes, the acorns are worth the time, especially when the trees are having a mast year like this one.

I’m on Day Four of the No Impact Experiment Week. Today is Eat Local day. That is my way of life, and not really a challenge to me, so I went back on The 250-Mile Diet on Day One last Sunday.

It’s unexpectedly fun to be back on The 250. I can’t remember why I thought I needed those non-local lemons and raisins that were on my shopping list before No Impact Week started.

Hope you’re having a great fall so far!

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Botany, Ballet, & Dinner from Scratch: A Memoir with Recipes by Leda Meredith



2 responses to “No Impact Week & Acorn Bread”

  1. acmeplant says:

    Would you please share your acorn/spicebush bread recipe?

  2. ledameredith says:

    It’s The Joy of Cooking’s nut bread recipe, but with 1 cup finely ground acorns instead of the 1 1/2 cups of chopped walnuts, and 1 teaspoon ground dried spicebush berries added.

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