Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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

Fruit crops to grow in Tennessee mountains
May 27, 2013 - My property has a lot of rock formations throughout it and has hundreds of cedars where it is not pasture. I am wanting to grow fruit trees and berry bushes but don't know what can grow in this e...
view the full question and answer

Blueberry and huckleberry plants for Washington state
April 20, 2010 - Could you give me the names of which blueberry plants and huckleberry bushes that grow the best in Walla Walla, Washington and where and how to plant and space and care for them?? Thanks so much.
view the full question and answer

Edibility of peppervine berries from Madison MS
February 09, 2012 - I am following up on a question I've posed to many well experienced foragers and naturalists regarding the pepper vine plant or Ampelopsis arbor. There are many conflicting stories regarding the edib...
view the full question and answer

Coexistence of rubus trivialis and American beautyberry
May 28, 2007 - I'm growing some rubus trivialis in a 1-gal. pot and plan to plant it this fall. Will this dewberry coexist with American beautyberry, or must it have its own space entirely? If it needs its own sp...
view the full question and answer

Are gourds poisonous, edible?
August 27, 2008 - Are all the Gourds edible? How can I know which one is which? If it is not edible, is it poisonous? If not, what is stopping us from eating them?
view the full question and answer

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