More than just a seedling for the mighty oak, an acorn contains multitudes—including nourishment in the form of acorn flour. With help from the Acornucopia Project, which encourages farmers and other citizens to harvest acorns, hickory nuts, and walnuts from the region around Asheville to be milled, chef Bradley Griffin, of Sarah Jean’s Eatery in Glade Spring, Virginia, set to work utilizing the seed-based flour in the kitchen.
“My focus at the restaurant is to utilize as much Appalachian produce as I can, and this fits really well with that idea,” he says. Griffin likens the texture to something between corn meal and corn flour. There’s heft to it but it can also be mealy, making actual cornmeal a nice complement to give structure to whatever it goes into. As for the flavor, he says, “it’s got an earthy taste that’s hard to describe. But it’s how I’d expect an acorn to taste, kind of like a mix of nuts and dirt, but in the best possible way.”
After experimenting with the flour in hoecakes and hush puppies, Griffin found that it took well to a little sweetness. Plus, it’s gluten-free. So, when he was looking to make a cake for a longtime gluten-free diner, he turned to a recipe from his own childhood: Cheerwine cake. “The acorn flour is not overly sweet but does give you a nice punctuation. Depending on what’s in season I usually put a fruit coulis alongside it, so this time of year, that’ll be pawpaws if we have them.”
(For those in the Asheville area, look for the flour through the Acornucopia Project)
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