Research Update — Shelling Acorns and Counting Calories

I’ve been shelling the acorns that I gathered back in October, which you can read about in a previous post. I burned about 344 calories while gathering and carrying two kilos of acorns in an hour.

Shelling acorns.

I shelled the acorns while relaxing on the couch. At first I tried to shell them right after gathering them, but the meat stuck tight to the skin. I dehydrated the acorns for about eight hours on low heat (I think it was around 125°F). After this, the shells and meat seemed to separate much easier and I was able to shell about a pound of meat (500 g) in 90 minutes. I used a pliers to crack the acorns: the pointy end against one lever and the top against another, once I pushed down, it cracked from top to bottom.

About a pound of good acorns (upper right), rejects (upper left), and shells (bottom).

I got about a kilo of acorn meat, that is, half of my gathered weight was shell and half was meat. It took me three hours to process, which I estimated to be about as intense as knitting, at 35 cal/hr (estimate comes from here). So I got about 2 lb. (1 kg) of acorn meat and expended a total of 449 calories.

According to one acorn flour nutrition page, each ounce of flour has 140 cal, 8 g fat (13% daily value), 8.4 g fat (13%), 1 g sat. fat (5%), 15 g carbohydrates (5%), 2 g protein, 1% calcium, 2% iron, 1628 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 3% each thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic Acid, 10% B6, 8% folate, 24% manganese, 8% magnesium, and some others, notably 0% sodium.

So how many calories did I gather in my four hours of work? A shocking amount: 4480 calories, which means a return of almost exactly 10 calories for every one I expended, but this could have been improved by gathering more acorns in my trip, as many of the calories (208) were burned walking to and from the park. If we wanted to compare gathering and shelling only, as the distance needed to go to collect acorns is arbitrary, I got about 18.6 calories for every one expended. If I were looking to gather 2000 calories per day, acorns could be a quick way to get there but would not provide complete nutrition.

In my next post, I’ll dive into processing the acorns to make them edible.


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