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  • From: <>
  • To: North American Fruit Explorers <>
  • Subject: Re: [NAFEX] Edible Acorns
  • Date: Sun, 30 Oct 2011 16:45:42 -0600

I harvested freshly fallen bur oak acorns
last fall but even the ones that looked sound were wormy so I tossed them
out. Has anyone else had that problem?
Michele in SW Ohio

Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone

----- Reply message -----
From: "Louis Pittman" <>
To: "North American Fruit Explorers" <>
Subject: [NAFEX] Edible Acorns
Date: Sun, Oct 30, 2011 12:18 pm

'Conventional wisdom' says bur oak (Q.macrocarpa), as a species, has lowest
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 me
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
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 an
interest in - and experience with - 'edible acorn oaks. IOS homepage
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 going
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

On Sun, Oct 30, 2011 at 11:15 AM, Steven Covacci <>wrote:

> Group:
> What are the most edible (least astringent) species of native acorns
> (Quercus spp.)?
> So far, I hear that burr oak: Quercus macrocarpa (such as cv. 'Ashworth',
> in particularly) is the best, or among the best; and that swamp white oak
> (Q. bicolor) is pretty good - although one report seems to indicate that
> this is variable, year-to-year.
> So, maybe some of you have compared burr oak and swamp white oak?
> I've tasted an oak at Jerry Lehman's orchard - forgot the species, maybe
> bur aok - and it was pretty good, although others seemed to detect
> astringency; then again, I was eating the not-yet-ripe persimmons without
> any problem...
> Steve; NJ USDA 6b/7a
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