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Constance Bay Red Oak Acorn Oil Experiment: Progress to Winter Solstice 2008

A traditional method we plan to try soon combines the tannin removal and oil extraction in one step. The acorn grind is roasted and placed into slightly salted, boiling water. The oil emerges, floating to the top and is skimmed off. The Oil Press The tannin accumulates in the water. When all the oil is out and into glass bottles for storage, the tannin water is drained into airtight storage. The sweet acorn grounds are recovered and dried for storage. The grounds will be kept frozen until time of use.

We are also planning a chemical assay just to get a good measure of the percentage of oil in the acorns. For this step we are getting professional guidance from chemist Dr John Campbell. A protocol is being drafted. When it is ready. we will do the assay and report our results.

We have a blueprint for building a small manual hydraulic press which could facilitate oil extraction (shown right). We will need help to get this device built. About a half kg of roasted acorn meal at a time could be put into this 3-ton manual press. The oil spills out at the bottom into the basin, from which it will be put into bottles.

Over the winter, we will be trying these and other methods to produce not only the oil but the meal, flour, starch and milk as well. These culinary products will be tested in foodstuffs. We hope to recruit a few friends and neighbours for chef-ry and tasting.
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When the test sample of acorns was cut in half, and the kernels extracted and the pellicle removed with boling water and a towel, these shels remained. They could be used as mulch indoors or out, or could be sent to the composter. When the half acorns were boiled some fell from the shel and some of these cast off their pellicle. Maybe with some refinement this method could be scaled up to general processing for village quantities in future years.
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Another method was tried for processing the half acorns, using a 40-cup coffee percolator. It was moderately sucessful. When we ran the cycle several time, the water darkened to almost black, meaning we had captured the tannins. It was easy to drain off spent water and to refill the urn with fresh water. By cycling in this fashon, we could remove the tannin from the acornmeal filled basket. We are curious to see if the oil might be extracted at the same time and float of the drained tannin water.
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We were interetsed in finding out if acorn products were available in any stores in Ottawa. We knew for our scholarship that acorns are still important in Korea so we searched the Korean grocery stores. We found acorn starch (a product of China) at the store on Bank Street and Catherine Street by the Queensway. Here is a picture of the nutrition label from the package.
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Here is the package of acorn starch, weighing about 225 gm, a half pound. This product is used in Korean to make a jelly analogous tofu. The jelly has little flavour on its own so it served with various tasty condiments
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Canada Nutculture Association, Ottawa, Canada: "Progress through Research & Development"