“The practice of eating acorns”

Foto: Elizabeth Vasilyeva

“Balanophagy” comes from ancient Greek and stands for the practice of eating acorns.
Mal wieder aus der Vergangenheit lernen: Eicheln gibt es überall auf der Welt und man findet von überall her Rezepte und Anleitungen zum Verarbeiten von Eicheln zu Gerichten. “Balanophagy” wird seit Jahrhunderten betrieben und ist wie so vieles im Sinne der nachhaltigen Nahrungsmittelproduktion in Vergessenheit geraten. Wir entwickeln gemeinsam ein Bitterballen-Rezept auf der Basis von Eicheln und holen “Balanophagy” zurück auf den Tisch:

Fotos: Elizabeth Vasilyeva

Acorn Bitterballen – makes 10 pieces

For the filling:

  • 300 g freshly harvested Acorns, or 75 g already peeled Acorns

  • 7 g Wheat Flour

  • 7 g Margarine, vegan butter or deodorised Coconut Oil

  • 35 ml Vegetable Stock

  • 35 ml Soy Milk

  • Pepper, Nutmeg and Salt to taste

  • 1 Teaspoon of dark Miso

  • 1 Teaspoon of curry spice powder

  • Pepper, Salt and more spices to taste

For the crust:

  • 50 g Acorns grits

  • 150 g Breadcrumbs

  • 1 Tablespoon wheat flour

  • 200 ml Water

Step 1 – Acorn paste

Acorns contain tannins and phytic acid, both of which should be removed before use. Therefore, processing the Acorns is a must (find out more about Acorn processing here). It does take some time, but you will be rewarded with a delicious paste which can be used in multiple dishes. Take a rainy afternoon to prepare a big batch once, then freeze it in portions and use them as a simple bread spread, a filling for ravioli, an addition to cookie dough, or for whatever comes to your mind.
The first step in acorn processing is the peeling. After they are peeled, you can easily get rid of the tannins and phytic acid by boiling the acorns.
For the Bitterballen filling, 75 grams of pureéd acorns are needed to make 10 pieces. But it is easier to blend a larger amount – don’t worry about leftovers; they can easily be frozen for later use. Use a blender or hand mixer to blend the Acorns into a paste, go as fine as possible. To season, add curry powder, miso paste, salt and pepper to taste.

Step 2 – Béchamel Sauce
Once the acorn paste is ready, the rest of the filling can be prepared. A simple béchamel sauce will serve as a base to provide the creaminess: Combine the vegetable stock with the soy milk. Then, heat the oil in a wide pot, add the flour to the heated oil and stir well. When the flour has developed a slightly roasted smell, but is still white in colour, add the liquid slowly, bit by bit. Stir constantly with a whisk to avoid lumps, and bring the sauce to a small boil. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.

Step 3 – Rest and wait

Combine the prepared acorn paste with the béchamel sauce. Set the filling aside to cool down. A fridge is ideal, as it will solidify the bechamél, which helps when forming the bitterballen. To prevent a skin from forming on top of the dough, you can cover the surface with cling foil while it sits. The filling easily can be stored for a day or two.

Step 4 – Panade

For the panade, grind 50 g of Acorns to form coarse grits. A mortar works well with cold-leached and air-dried acorns. The acorns should be fully dry to not get chewy when fried.
Combine 50 grams of Acorn grits with 50 grams of breadcrumbs, mix well and place the crumbing inside a bowl. In a second bowl, combine one tablespoon of wheat flour with 200 ml of water to form a runny batter. Into a third bowl, place the remaining 100 grams of breadcrumbs.
Take roughly ½ Tablespoon (15 grams) of batter and place it into the bowl of only breadcrumbs. Roll it until fully covered. Then dip the ball inside the flour-water batter. In the third step, cover the ball with the acorn-breadcrumb mix and roll until fully covered. Dry hands covered in flour work best to roll the dough into the classical bitterballen shapes.

Step 5 – Fry 
Deep-fry the Bitterballen in neutral oil at 180° for 3-5 minutes.

Step 6 – Enjoy 

Serve the Bitterballen freshly fried. To accompany their rich taste, they are best served alongside refreshing Dijon mustard, fruity Lingonberry jam, and fresh slices of lemon. 

When celebrating the opening of Mediamatic’s Botanical garden, these Acorn Bitterballen had their first public appearance.