Eating acorns

allenwrenchAugust 10, 2008

I tried some a large burr acorn last year and they were terrible even after boiling the tannins out for 45 min.

Was thinking about these mini acorns this year. Any suggestions of which type of acorn is best for eating?

Here are 2 types of mini acorns in my local. (my apologies for the poor photos).

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Here in the mountains of Southern California the Serrano and Cahuilla indians processed Black Oak acorns for one of their main staples.

At Pow-Wows and other heritage events modern day tribal members will process some and have samples out in those little plastic salsa cups. The universal response from folks is "yeuch". So even when processed properly, there's no guarantee that you'll like it.

It should be noted that in the diaries of Lewis & Clark expedition, many indians would sample plain items like squash that the party had carried from other tribes and say it was the best thing they had ever tasted. The trade in better-tasting food is one of the benefits of inter-tribal peace that Lewis & Clark urged.


    Bookmark   August 10, 2008 at 12:09PM
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My father experimented with this when I was a girl. He said that the white oak varieties (round lobed leaves) had less tannin than the black oak varieties (pointy lobed leaves), and were less work to leach. But while he had some rumored Indian ancestry a long way back, he had no direct cultural knowledge. He got this from his wide-ranging reading. I tasted the results from his experiments. It has not encouraged me to try again.

On the other hand, I do love oak trees and have planted two valley oaks (Quercus lobata). But not for food.


    Bookmark   August 10, 2008 at 12:31PM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

>>I tried some a large burr acorn last yearI don't think these are burr oak, burr oak are fairly small.
Some parts of Europe in harsh time's, acorn was use as a Flower and Coffee substitute.
But you have to wash them for a long time fist.


    Bookmark   August 10, 2008 at 1:49PM
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I think the turkey oak (one with squid looking tentacles) is supposed to be light on tannins.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2008 at 2:01PM
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Bur oak acorns may be small for you up there in the frigid northland, but when you get into more southerly climes, they're the largest acorn - I have seedlings of bur oaks from AL/TX/OK that produce acorns that weigh in at 6-8/lb - with their caps removed! Only the semi-tropical Q.insignis is larger. Even acorns of bur oaks from MO & KY are larger than those of any other white oak species I've ever encountered, even into south Alabama.

you may have 'fixed' the tannins in your bur oak acorns by boiling them. What you need to do is shell them, remove the thin pellicle(skin) around the kernel, chop/grind them in a blender of water, allow the acorn meal to settle, pour off the cloudy water; then add clean water and repeat the process until the water is no longer cloudy, then use your leached acorn meal for preparation of bread, etc.
The Paiutes and other native American tribes in the Yosemite area, as well as other areas of the American west used the CA black oak, Q.kelloggi, extensively. The red/black oak group typically has higher oil content than the white oaks, and can be stored, dry, for extended periods. For detailed instructions on traditional acorn preparation, see if you can find a copy of "It Will Live Forever" and for more contemporary preparation techniques and recipes, try to find "Acorns and Eat 'Em" by Suellen Ocean.

As a species, bur oak tends to have lower tannin levels than most other members of the white oak group, but species is not the whole story - environmental effects play a role, as well. I've sampled some low-tannin acorns from a few Q.bicolor selections, and some years they were non-bitter, straight off the tree, but other years, acorns from those same trees were as bitter as any other white oak type.

Here is a link that might be useful: It Will Live Forever

    Bookmark   August 10, 2008 at 10:29PM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

Yes, Bur is one of the largest but the husk is growing further up on the acorns then most others with a bur,.. this is where the name came from.
Allen's last picture, [large acorns] surely doesn't resemble bur oak with a smooth husk and the acorn protruding out of the husk sooo....long! ... I'm confused!

This from the Web
White Oak acorns have the least tannic acid
Produces a heavy crop typically every 3rd year
but a crop every other year.
Sweetest of all acorns due to a very low tannic acid level.
The large rock oak the highest content.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2008 at 11:55PM
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theaceofspades(7 Long Island)

Yes the White Oaks have less tannin. I have mostly Red Oaks and several Whites. White Oaks are slower growing and more desirable for lumber than Red oak. In March, the last of winter, the squirrels got to munch those bitter Red acorns for food! Maybe that is why squirrels tear off every ripe fruit and take just one bite. Anyhow, there is a white Oak with no tannins called Bur oak. Indians and wildlife prefer these. The elongated acorns are the White Oaks.

Here is a link that might be useful: Burr Oak

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 6:24AM
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allenwrench hasn't told us(to my knowledge) where he/she's located - zone 6 covers a large area of the country. Location can be quite helpful in determining what species or problems are likely to be present.

The leaves shown in the first photo, with the 'frilly' acorns make me think he may have a burgambel (Q.macrocarpaXgambelli) or Bebbs (Q.macrocarpaXalba) hybrid. The elongate acorns look like what I'd expect of Q.lobata, the western white oak; but since we don't know what part of the country those acorns came from, I could be all wet in my assessment.
I've seen bur oak acorns - of both northern and Southern provenance - with caps and 'frill' that almost entirely enclose the acorn itself; not uncommon to have some that you can't even see the end of the acorn.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 5:41PM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

Here is a picture of our Bur Oak I shot last year.


    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 7:24PM
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Wonderful picture! Thanks for posting it.


    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 2:59PM
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Thanks to all repliers.

Will give the blender leaching a try next time, as well as retry the bigger burr oak acorns. Will get a photo of them when they start dropping later in the season.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 4:08PM
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I'm in OH / PA / WV area.

Here is a photo of bur oak acron. Is it good for eating?

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 4:14PM
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