Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

Support the plant database you love!

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
9 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

Use of cenizo (Leucophyllum frutescens) for tea
February 20, 2006 - Back in the 50's when I spent the summers with my grandmother south of Hondo, Texas, she use to pick leaves from the cenizo (purple sage) bushes, dry them and then brew them for tea. I asked one of m...
view the full question and answer

Need information about Pignut (Hoffmannseggia glauca).
November 30, 2009 - I wanted to know a little about Pignut (also called Indian Rush-pea and Hog Potato); botanical name Hoffmannseggia glauca. Is it edible, and at what point does the plant produce a tuber (looks like a ...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping from Wilmington NC
December 22, 2012 - I plan on moving to Belmont NC in the next couple of years and settling down with my future wife in her home town. I am a huge do it yourself person. I love to make things from scratch, including buil...
view the full question and answer

Gardening books for Austin and Central Texas
June 09, 2008 - Hi, I'm looking for a book for my wife. She is a beginning gardener here in Austin. Do you know of an ideal book or two that covers vegetable gardening and gardening in general in Austin/Central Tex...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on edible and medicinal native plants
October 06, 2004 - I would like a list of edible & medicinal native plants for the San Antonio area.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.