Sunday, November 6, 2011

Capital Nut Tree Project Acorn Workshop


Stalking the elusive acorn


Acorn bread with acorns in different stages of processing in the background
Today I led an acorn workshop for the Capital Nut Tree Project at Playfair Park in Victoria.  I just can’t stay away from that place!  Every time I go back, there are more acorns on the ground, and today was no exception, although many were hidden under the accumulating leaves.  It is a peaceful place to pick, hidden away off of the backstreets.  About 20 inquisitive people showed up and we worked our way through the process of identifying the different species of Oaks in Victoria, selecting healthy acorns, drying, shelling, grinding, leaching, and cooking the acorns.  I brought as many props as I could, so they were able to see dried, shelled, and ground acorns, and smell the delightful acoroma (an acorn aroma worthy of proclaiming ¡ay caramba!).  We started leaching some acorn flour, and I had some leached flour that we cooked on a camp stove for everybody to eat.  I forgot maple syrup, so everybody got to taste the true essence of acorn flavour in the acorn bread.  I haven’t had it plain in a while, and it was better than I remembered.  For more pictures and a nice write-up of the workshop, see Rhona McAdam's website.


Rod, a Playfair Park neighbor enjoying acorn bread
Acorn tannin dissolved in the first (left) and last (right) change of water
The City of Victoria's Agrologist, Kendell, told us about many other nut trees in Victoria.  I learned that layering is the easiest way to propagate nut trees, especially those species that aren’t always true to seed.  All you have to do is weight down and partially bury a low lying branch and then wait a few years for the branch to develop an independent root system.  She also mentioned another Chestnut (Castanea sp.) in Esquimalt, and she brought a number of different species of Hazelnuts (Corylus spp.) that were all from Beacon Hill Park.  I hope I have time in the next few days to go look for them.
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