[NAFEX] Edible Acorns

Dr. Lucky Pittman lucky.pittman at murraystate.edu
Mon Oct 31 09:58:14 EDT 2011

My experience with open-grown bur oak seedlings, in my yard and riparian
plantings, is that they'll typically begin bearing acorns by 6-8 years of
age, good crops by 10.  In an understory or forest setting, I'd anticipate
longer time to fruiting, just due to competition for available sunlight and


-----Original Message-----
From: nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of mIEKAL aND
Sent: Sunday, October 30, 2011 2:47 PM
To: North American Fruit Explorers
Subject: Re: [NAFEX] Edible Acorns

Lucky, thanks for posting this! What a wealth of information.

I still have the 3 oaks that you sent me eons ago, no sign yet of any
kind of acorn action, but all three are all growing in the understory
so I imagine it could take a long time.


On Sun, Oct 30, 2011 at 1:18 PM, Louis Pittman
<lucky.pittman at murraystate.edu> wrote:
> 'Conventional wisdom' says bur oak (Q.macrocarpa), as a species, has
> tannin levels - and there are a handful of bur oak selections that were
> made, ostensibly, for the edibility/low tannin levels of their acorns -
> "Ashworth", "Sweet Idaho", "GVP Bur #1", etc.
> Most of this stuff is anecdotal at best, I'm afraid.  I'm not certain that
> anyone has conducted any extended chemical analyses, or subjective taste
> tests with any significant number of people.
> Don Cobb, the NNGA Edible Oaks chairman had several Q.bicolor(swamp white
> oak) selections, from a Cornell U. planting that I had an opportunity to
> sample on two subsequent years - and that limited taste test suggests to
> that genetics are not the whole story.
> Don's "Cobb Sweetie #2", in 2000 was totally non-bitter - not much flavor,
> but no astringency; "Fall Creek #1 and #3" were edible, but had some mild
> astringency.  Acorns from the 2001 crop, on all three selections, were
> indistinguishable from any other white oak species acorn - all had some
> astringency.
> So...I suspect that weather/environmental conditions from year to year may
> play a significant role in tannin levels in acorns.
> I have a graft of a Q.alba selection from the Abingdon VA area that Donna
> Hudson tipped me off about - she has eaten acorns from the ortet, but I
> have not, and my graftling has not fruited yet.
> Ken Asmus, at OIKOS Tree Crops, in Kalamazoo MI, has a number of supposed
> low-tannin oak selections of various species and interspecific  hybrids,
> from which he offers seedlings (and now, scionwood from some selections)
> I'm certain there are members of the International Oak Society that have
> interest in - and experience with - 'edible acorn oaks.  IOS homepage
> here:  http://www.internationaloaksociety.org/home
> I haven't heard anything out of the NNGA Oaks group since Don Cobb broke
> his back several years back - not sure how much action or interest is
> on there.
> Native Americans used acorns extensively as a staple food source.
> My understanding is that the tannins in white oak species are 'different'
> from those in the red/black oak group.
> I'm not certain that the white oak acorns 'store' well, but the western
> tribes built granaries which allowed them to store red/black oak
> acorns(Q.kelloggii, etc.) for years, offsetting the boom-bust mast cycles
> to some degree.  As a rule, the red/black oak acorns have higher fat
> content than those of the white oak group.
> Look for "It Will Live Forever: Traditional Yosemite Indian Acorn
> Preparation"(or similar title) by Bev Ortiz, with Julia Parker - an
> enjoyable and educational read.
> "Acorns and Eat 'em" by Suellen Ocean has a multitude of acorn and
> acorn-based recipes and instructions on processing them.
> Lucky Pittman
> Hopkinsville, KY
nafex mailing list 
nafex at lists.ibiblio.org
Subscribe, unsubscribe, change your user configuration or find out more
about the list here:
NAFEX web site: http://www.nafex.org/

More information about the nafex mailing list