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Mr. Smarty Plants - Edibility of bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) acorns

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Wednesday - October 24, 2007

From: Ft. Worth, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Edible Plants
Title: Edibility of bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) acorns
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Damon Waitt

QUESTION:

Is the acorn of the Bur Oak edible?

ANSWER:

Yes, apparently the Chippewa, the Ojibwa, the Dakota, the Ponca, the Winnebago, the Pawnee, the Cheyenne and the Omaha Indians all used the acorns of the Quercus macrocarpa (bur oak) as food as well as for medicinal purposes. The acorns were roasted or boiled or otherwise treated before eating. You can see the references in the Native American Ethnobotany database from the University of Michigan-Dearborn. In general, acorns (nuts) are edible after tannins are leached or boiled out. Gather nuts during the fall from September to October. Only gather the ripe tan-to-brown acorns rather than the unripe green ones. To remove bitterness, shell the brown ripe acorns and remove any corky skin layers dice the meat and boil the chunks in water from 15 to 30 minutes until the water turns brown. Then pour off the water and repeat the process until the water clears indicating that the tannic acid has been removed. During the last boiling salt water can be added; then the acorns can be deep fried or mixed in a soup. Finely chopped acorn meats can be added to bread doughs and muffin batters. After the leaching process acorn meat can be frozen. To make flour the boiled acorn meat can be split in two and dried by slowly baking in a 200 degree oven with the door cracked to allow moisture to escape. Crush or grind and use as a thickener or a flour. Another method is to roast the fresh acorn to work well in a grinder or blender. After grinding place the flour into a cloth bag and boil to leach out bitterness. Leached acorns after they are roasted until brittle can be ground and used as a marginal coffee substitute. Warning: Acorns (seeds of nuts) and young leaves have low toxicity if eaten. Symptoms include stomach pain constipation and later bloody diarrhea excessive thirst and urination.
 

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