How to Clean Acorns and Preserve

How to Clean Acorns and Preserve

Let’s talk about how to clean and preserve acorns.

For this post, I decided to talk about how to clean acorns and preserve them. By the way, if you have been following Cloches & Lavender you may be aware of my passion for acorns and adding pieces of nature to our fall decor.

Which Trees Have Acorns

Trees That Have Acorns

Acorns are generally the fruit of oak trees and are mostly in the northern hemisphere.

There are hundreds of species of oak trees around the world, with 90 different oak trees native to the US. Acorns are easy to harvest. They store well and are relatively simple to preserve.

I also learned the difference between White Oak acorns vs Red Oaks acorns. For example, acorns from White Oaks are going to be longer in length but smaller in diameter. And Red Oak acorns will be the exact opposite shorter in length but larger in diameter.

So, this explains why the acorns my husband brought home while on his morning run are the widest and biggest acorns I have seen since I have become a “nut gatherer”. Did I just say that for real?

However, it’s also common that every 3rd year to be a heavier crop so this answers a question I didn’t realize.

Reasons They’re Thin and Long and Wider Acorns

Reasons for Thin Long and Wider Acorns

Some species have large acorns, the reason that acorns come in different sizes is not clear.

A mild winter can often mean more acorns since white and red oak trees are able to produce more of them when they start creating seeds in the spring. But a harsh winter or a springtime freeze can lead to very little acorn production, and sometimes none at all.

This is the one thing I have never been aware of and it makes sense. Because we were at such a high elevation in NJ I now understand why some years were better than others. Having a spring freeze is a common issue where we lived too.

Now I can’t imagine not having an acorn crop in our other home because for the most part oak trees are everywhere. I still have gone to my besties’ home to search for acorns many times. And the great thing is we both have the same affection for this part of nature.

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Best Time to Collect These

Best Time to Collect These

The best time to collect these is as soon as fall strikes. This is usually the beginning of acorn season. This will be the best chance for the best amount of acorns for collecting.

How to Clean Acorns?

How to Clean Acorns

First of all, if these are still attached to the branches with leaves remove the acorns carefully. Grab the acorn at the base of the top and the branch and twist gently. DON’T just pull and yank off because the cap may come off.

the branch the pieces came from

For the most part, I recommend doing this on a dry day and when there aren’t wet leaves to slip on. This comment should give you an idea slipping on wet leaves has happened while searching for real acorns.

First, collect and try to collect the best acorns and try to make sure they are in good condition and there are no cracks. Green acorns can be collected too. The green color means they’re just not ripe yet and sometimes they stay green and other times will turn brown after baking. As you will see in the pictures below a few stayed green while others turned brown and that’s what I love about nature.

Also if you find acorns missing caps grab them too. They are still part of nature and nothing is perfect when collecting pieces of nature. No acorn is the same right? It’s the same when collecting pine cones or even sticks from your yard.

I also don’t recommend using a scooping action because you will gather more dirt and debris than acorns.

how to clean acorns and preserve soaking in warm soapy water

Also, I try to make sure not to gather any with small holes or cracks in the acorns themselves. This generally means insect larvae are extremely present. Next, make sure to remove any access shell fragments and remember to grab loose acorn caps because once these are clean and preserved a dab of hot glue holds them together.

More About the Collecting and Cleaning Process

More About the Collecting and Cleaning Process

After collecting these one of the best practices is to soak acorns in warm soapy water. This begins the process of removing any signs of little bugs and dirt.

Tip: I have collected acorns still attached to small branches. Of course, I remove the leaves before soaking.

I generally fill our kitchen sink with dish detergent and water. A large bowl or bucket will work as well.

I have also heard of using a half cup of vinegar but I think this is the most popular method and have done this process many times and it works like a charm.

As an example of my love for nature and natural elements here’s a project that’s easy and you may enjoy.

Supplies Needed:

  • dish soap
  • warm water
  • sink or large bucket or large bowl
  • paper towel or towel

Preserving the Acorns by Baking

Preserving the Acorns by Baking

Supplies Needed:

  • cookie sheet or baking pan
  • oven set at 200 degrees f

Next step, begin the drying process and lay the acorns in a single layer. Bake them for 2-3 hours leaving the oven door open ajar. Doing this removes all the moisture and does a great job of getting rid of any signs of insects.

Again, many suggest lining the baking sheet with foil because of sap. In all the years I have been doing this I have never had this issue.

Some turn the acorns over halfway through the baking process however I don’t and again they are perfectly brown every time. In fact, I have an overabundance of acorns and use them in different ways for seasonal decor.

After baking and cooled How to cleand acorns and preserve

After the timer goes off remove the acorns and allow them to cool.

The last step, use a clear acrylic sealer to protect these for many years to come. I generally use a matte sealer to keep these looking as natural as possible.

By the way, I found these real acorns at this shop for a great price. Not everyone has access to oak trees and everyone may not want to hunt for these as I do. Incidentally, I have purchased these for a project and I highly recommend this Etsy shop. The best part is this is very fast and easy to make!

drying acorns how to clean acorns and preserve

How to Store These Every Year

Storing These Yearn After Year

For the most part, I find the best way to store my acorn collection is to use plastic bags. An airtight plastic container will work as well. It’s particularly important to make sure to store these in a dark dry space.

Showing how large these acorn caps are compared to the white oak ones

I hope you enjoyed this blog post and learning how to clean acorns and preserve them to enjoy them in your home. Do you enjoy acorns as much as I do?


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18 thoughts on “How to Clean Acorns and Preserve

  1. I too love acornsfor fall decor and have both real and faux. Have you ever seen Burr Oak acorns? They are the largest and very pretty. My daughter just found a tree at the hospital where she is a nurse. I am in N.C. so I don’t know if they grow where you live. I always fill a large glass brandy sniffer with them to set on my coffee table but only after they have been cleaned and debugged.
    Happy fall.

  2. What is it about acorns that make them so cute!!!! I love all the info on acorns you supplied Cindy. Also how to care for them. Have a great week. xoxo Kris

  3. Good morning, Cindy! Your post about preserving acorns is very informative. I have started to hear them fall. I may have to try my hand at preserving them to display with my fall decor. Thanks for sharing the tutorial. I hope you have a wonderful day, sweet friend!

  4. We have a Burr Oak tree in our yard. The leaves and acorns are huge. Acorns are golf ball size! You would LOVE them.

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