Acorns, or Oak Nuts?

by Green Deane

in Blog

It seem like a little thing that grew into a big problem, just like the edible I was writing about.

I had several requests to do something about acorns. Though a well-covered edible on the Internet and in nearly every foraging book most people think they are poisonous, a rather surprising idea. They are not, unless you’re a horse. After writing my article I had a quandary: Do I index it under oak or acorns? It would seem oaks and acorns are in rare company, a nut that is not the same name as the tree.

Cashews come from a ….cashew tree. Pecans from a pecan tree. Walnuts from a walnut tree. Acorns from an Acorn Tree…wrong…

I started a list in my mind… apples, apple tree; oranges, orange tree; mulberries, mulberry tree… persimmons, almonds, cherries, plums, loquats, grapes..well, grape vine. but still grape. One even gets ‘ears” from the Ear Tree, but acorns….

Now hazelnuts do come from the Hazelnut tree, but so do “filberts” because the hazelnut ripens around St. Filbert’s day….Aug. 20…no, I really didn’t know there was a St. Philibert …built a lot of churches in the early 800’s, one with his name still standing….so we get both filberts and hazelnuts from the hazelnut tree.  I could try to add that whiffles come from the whiffle tree but they come from the Ash tree, and they aren’t even edible (it’s a part of carriage or cart that transfers the pulling of the horse to the vehicle.)

So I decided to index acorns under acorn, not oak. No one goes looking for an oak recipe, and acorn looks good at the top of an edible index. And I think I’ll start calling oaks “acorn trees.”

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Krysta April 19, 2012 at 20:52

I have often wondered if acorn is just a mistake of “oak” and “corn”, which was sometimes used as a simple term for any edible grain/nut/seed (think corn poppy). If you say it fast enough, I could see somebody making that mistake. Just thought I would add my two cents ;)

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2 jonathan December 2, 2012 at 20:36

In Icelandic, Old Norse (and presumably in Middle English) the word for oak is ‘eik’ and is pronounced like ‘ache’ or ‘ake’. Korn or corn, as mentioned, means seed (and only recently came to mean maize in the US). So the word acorn does mean oak seed, even if the spelling is corrupted and the meaning is not obvious.

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3 nathaly April 23, 2013 at 15:31

i love you so much

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4 Wesley Wolken October 15, 2013 at 16:44

I cut my acorns in a chopper at about 1/8″ thick and smaller. I am leaching them in cold water I’m on my second day. I was going to leach them until they are no longer bitter and then dry them for eating. My drying method would be a warm oven say about 100 to 120 degrees in till dry. What do you think of my method. Will this work? This is my first time doing this.

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5 Green Deane October 15, 2013 at 17:23

Sounds good to me.

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6 Floranne Long November 12, 2013 at 11:36

I have a pin oak growing in my yard. I puts out a lot of acorns. What can I do to process some of them for my use? I am handicapped so need something easy to do and not too labor intensive. Any suggestions? I do have a thing I can use for grinding them.

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7 Green Deane November 12, 2013 at 11:48

They have to be shelled, crushed, and soaked in several changes of water.

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8 Susan Mae April 28, 2014 at 06:34

I have been enjoying your videos. I am now checking out your website. I came across your vlog while searching google for “Yucca filamentosa edible”.

I am very impressed by your knowledge and the ability you have to teach. Thank you so much for sharing them. You are a natural and I am a big fan from Canada. Although a different environment we have most of the same plants. Even though I knew some were edible I was always able to learn something new about them AND now I have found so many more. Thanks to you! Big hugs. Susan

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9 Ben July 13, 2014 at 12:45

I’ve written a bit, myself, on the etymology of ‘Oak-Nuts’ and ‘Acorn-Trees’. This old article (http://laughingcrowpermaculture.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/a-linguistic-permaculture-of-the-oak/) later cleaned up and published in ‘Permaculture Activist’, goes into insufferable detail on the history of the words ‘Oak’ and ‘Acorn’.

The short version is that ‘Acorn’ is related to ‘Acre,’ formerly referring to tracts of open land. Good acorn production traditionally requires seasonal burning regimens that produce a landscape of open savanna dotted with stands of spreading Oaks. ‘Oak’ comes from the Scandinavian branch of the Germanic language family, as Jonathan earlier pointed out, and was added to Old English during the Viking invasions of Northern England. Together, they tell a story about the history of land use, cultural migration, and social stratification and revolution, but all that’s in the article…

Enjoy,
Ben

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