En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
7 ratings

Sunday - September 21, 2008

From: Overland Park, KS
Region: Midwest
Topic: Edible Plants
Title: How to remove tannins from acorns
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

On your web page it says that the edible acorns (example: Chinkapin Oak) are edible if boiled, but the wikipedia article on "Acorn" says that "Boiling unleached acorns may actually cause the tannins to be unleachable." I would like to know, which is more accurate before I try it. Thank you for your help.

ANSWER:

Here is what Delena Tull says in Edible and Useful Plants of Texas and the Southwest:

"To remove tannic acid, you must leach the acorns with water.  The Indians set the acorns in a basket in a clean fast-flowing stream.  The water rushing through the basket would leach out the tannins in a day or two.  Since most of us do not have a clean fast-flowing stream nearby, we need to boil out the tannins....Toss the nuts into a large pot, and cover them with plenty of water.  Bring to a boil, then boil for about 15 minutes.  The water will turn brown, the color of tea, as the tannic acid is extracted from the kernels.  Throw out the water...and replace it with fresh water.  To save time, have a second pot of water already boiling.  Reboil  the acorns, throwing out the brown water, several times until the water no longer turns brown."

Lee Allen Peterson in Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and Central North America says:

"Whole kernels, stripped of their shells and boiled in repeated changes of water until the water no longer turns brown, can be roasted and eaten as nuts or dipped in sugar syrup and eaten as candy.  Dried and crushed acorns can be placed in porous bags and put through same boiling proces to remove the tannin."

Euell Gibbons in Stalking the Wild Asparagus also recommends boiling in several changes of water for a period of two hours to remove the tannins.  

With the same recommendation from three people who know their wild foods, I think I would give the boiling method a try.  You should be able to tell if it's working by the color of the water coming off the boiling.

Bon appétit!
 

More Edible Plants Questions

Odor and flavor of oils in Mints as insect repellants
December 19, 2005 - I am trying to find information on "How does mint plants repel insects" It's for my grand daughter's science project. Any help will be appreciated. Thank you
view the full question and answer

Looking for a List of Edible Wild Plants for Ohio
September 06, 2013 - What are some edible wild plants in Ohio?
view the full question and answer

Tea made from timothy grass
June 20, 2008 - My mom and I have been drinking tea made from Timothy grass seed for many years, 40 at least. It is delicious, and refreshing. My question is can you see any harm in drinking tea made from the seeds o...
view the full question and answer

Are berries of American Beautyberry poisonous?
September 21, 2008 - I have an American Beautyberry Plant and I need to know if the purple berries are toxic - we have dogs and I wouldn't want them to eat them. Thanks for any information you may have on this plant.
view the full question and answer

Native Grasses as a Hay Crop in Beeville, TX
October 22, 2014 - I am looking to cut Hay on about 38 acres just west of Beeville, Texas. I want to convert the land to native grasses, but I still want to have a decent hay crop that I can sell. What is a good set of ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center