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Acorns & Oaks


Acorns have long played a major role in many cultures around the world. They are still a commercial crop in some areas. The commercial harvest in Korea (where 1+ million liters are harvested each year) provides prepared acorn starch and flour that reach the American market. Sadly, research on acorns has been neglected. They make an excellent food for people, livestock, domestic fowl, and wildlife. Acorns are relatively easy to collect, store well, and can be processed by hand or machine. In addition to the nutritious nut and meal, acorns yield an oil comparable in quality and flavor with olive oil. There is growing evidence they can be valuable for medicinal uses as well. Pharmacological effects reported for oaks include: antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, hepatoprotective, gastrointestinal disorder, skin disorder, anti-obesity, anticancer, and neurodegenerative protection. The existing market can be greatly expanded and will provide new income for rural people. Better education and support can also make these acorn foods available in areas where food supplies are short or critical. A serious effort to identify and propagate the best oak acorn cultivars for these products is long overdue.


Acorns as food, cooking with acorns, acorn liqueur, oaks, bellota, Eichel, gland, βελανίδι, bolota, 도토리, 橡子, царсны боргоцой, acorn oil, quercus, tree crops, amino acids, vitamins, pharmacological uses of acorns, acorn processing, acorn leaching, acorn storage, acorns for fodder, acorn fed pigs, fungi, truffles, mushrooms, Korea, China, Portugal, Greece, Arizona, Sonora, Quercus gambelii, Q. mongolica., Q. emoryii, Q. dumosa, Q. virginiana, and Q. macrocarpa. Other species reported to be sweet include: Q. vaccinifolia, Q. stellata, Q. garryana,Q. lobata, Q. pumila, Q. muehlenbergii, Q. alba, Q. michauxii, Q. brandeegei, Q. gramuntia, Q. E'sculus, Q. aegilops, and Q. ilex var ballota.

Read First

Bainbridge, D.A. 2001 [1985]. Acorns as Food: History, use, recipes, and bibliography. Sierra Nature Prints, Twain Harte, CA. 33 p. 

Bainbridge, D. A. 1988. The oaks: a neglected multi-use tree crop. pp. 657-662. In IFOAM Conference Proceedings, UC Santa Cruz, CA.

Bainbridge, D. A. 1987. The use of acorns in California: past present future. pp. 453-458. In T. R. Plumb and N. H. Pillsbury, eds. Proceedings of the Symposium on the Multiple-use Management of California's Hardwoods, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, November 1986. Pacific Southwest Range and Experiment Station, Berkeley, CA. 

Bainbridge, D. A. 1986. Sweet acorns and good flavor. Acorn Testers News. 1(1):1.

Bainbridge, D. A. 1985. The rise of agriculture: a new perspective. AMBIO. 14(3):148-151.

Bainbridge, D.A. 1984. The grain that grows on trees. Mother Earth News, Sept./Oct. 80-84.

These may also be of interest

Bainbridge, D. A. 1985. Oaks and acorns. Permaculture Activist. Fall, p. 9.

Bainbridge, D. A. 1985. Acorns: a crop for the future. Unasylva. 37(4):63-64.

Bainbridge, D. A. 1986. Eichen und eicheln. Öko Journal. 14(1):26-28.

Bainbridge, D.A. 1987. The Oaks. In: The International Permaculture Species Yearbook, Dan Hemenway, Editor. TIPSY, Orange, MA

Bainbridge, D. A. 1987. Multipurpose tree crops for dry lands. 2nd International Permaculture Conference. Olympia, WA. 18 p.

Bainbridge, D. A. 1988. Oaks in California: A neglected resource. Hollister Rotary, Feb. 22. 6 p.

Bainbridge, D. A. 1989. Acorns as food. International Development Digest. 2(2):5.

Bainbridge, D. A. 1991. The oaks. TIPS Journal. 1(2):9-12.

Bainbridge, D. A. 1997. Agroforestry for the Southwest. pp. 35-38 in M. Merwin, ed. The Status Opportunity and Need for Agroforestry in the United States. Association for Temperate Agroforestry, Columbia, MO. 

Bainbridge, D. A. 1997. contributor. A. M. Gordon and S. M. Newman. Temperate Agroforestry Systems. CAB International, Oxford, UK. 269 p. 

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