Alfredo Sendim is nuts about acorns. Some 300 hectares of oak trees cover his family estate, Herdade do Freixo do Meio, in the northern Alentejo region. The acorns are fed to his 300 pata negra (black hoof) pigs, which in turn provide the presunto (cured ham) which he sells in his shop, named after his estate, in Lisbon’s Mercado da Ribeira. Alongside the ham and other organic produce from the estate – including rice, olive oil, chicken, turkey, beef, beans and chickpeas – Alfredo sells “acorn coffee”, made from roasted nuts, and bread and biscuits made from acorn flour.
When he is not on the farm or in his shop, he is busy promoting sustainable produce on TV or researching the nutritional value of acorns with the Católica university in Porto . “Acorns are a powerful anti-oxidant,” he says. “They have a type of fat similar to olive oil, are gluten-free and can replace almonds, cereals or potatoes.”