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Re: [fukuoka_farming] acorns

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  • Lucia Ruedenberg Wright
    hi Jamie - I ve also often been curious about acorns, since they are all around. there is a book I saw recently in my Bountiful Gardens catalogue that s on my
    Message 1 of 14 , Dec 17, 2003
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      hi Jamie - I've also often been curious about acorns, since they are all
      around. there is a book I saw recently in my Bountiful Gardens catalogue
      that's on my list of things to get:

      Acorns and Eat 'em
      Suellen Ocean, 1993, 86 pages

      you can find them at www.bountifulgardens.org
      or phone: 707-459-1925

      Lucia
    • jamie
      Hello everyone, I ve spent some of the last month tasting acorns from the many oaks in this area inspired by Russel Smith s Tree Crops . While there have been
      Message 2 of 14 , Dec 17, 2003
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        Hello everyone, I've spent some of the last month tasting acorns from the
        many oaks in this area inspired by Russel Smith's 'Tree Crops'. While there
        have been many that have been ferociously bitter there have equally been
        those not far from palatable and at least 2 trees where the acorn can be
        eaten out of hand where the taste is not disimilar to chestnuts (perhaps
        without quite the same sweetness). The main species are Quercus ilex and Q.
        kermes, with Q.ilex the most palatable.

        I'm wondering if others are using their own native acorns and how they
        prepare and use them. I'm also wondering if there is a change in taste
        dependent upon the yearly climatic factors or whether taste (especially
        sweetness and tannin content remain fairly constant). If anyone can point me
        to online information or other books discussing acorns I'd appreciate it.

        Jamie
        Souscayrous
      • les landeck
        Hi Jamie, It may be a good idea not to eat any more acorns, until you read up on them. handled and or prepared incorrectly will poison you. the Native
        Message 3 of 14 , Dec 17, 2003
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          Hi Jamie,

          It may be a good idea not to eat any more acorns,
          until you read up on them. handled and or prepared
          incorrectly will poison you. the Native Americans in
          my area used acorns as a staple. but in speaking with
          them about the acorn bread the first question was who
          prepared the acorns. it's not an easy job and it must
          be done right, eating raw is out of the question, that
          bitterness is the tannin that must be removed. if you
          search Pomo,Miwok and dig through their should be some
          information on acorns.

          stay well Les








          --- jamie <jamie@...> wrote:
          > Hello everyone, I've spent some of the last
          monththere
          > have been many that have been ferociously bitter
          > there have equally been
          > those not far from palatable and at least 2 trees
          > where the acorn can be
          > eaten out of hand where the taste is not disimilar
          > to chestnuts (perhaps
          > without quite the same sweetness). The main species
          > are Quercus ilex and Q.
          > kermes, with Q.ilex the most palatable.
          >
          > I'm wondering if others are using their own native
          > acorns and how they
          > prepare and use them. I'm also wondering if there is
          > a change in taste
          > dependent upon the yearly climatic factors or
          > whether taste (especially
          > sweetness and tannin content remain fairly
          > constant). If anyone can point me
          > to online information or other books discussing
          > acorns I'd appreciate it.
          >
          > Jamie
          > Souscayrous
          >
          >

          > tasting acorns from the
          > many oaks in this area inspired by Russel Smith's
          > 'Tree Crops'. While



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        • Robert Monie
          Hi Les and Jamie, The Native Americans used to let streams wash through the pounded acorn meat for a couple of weeks, until the tannins were thoroughly washed
          Message 4 of 14 , Dec 17, 2003
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            Hi Les and Jamie,

            The Native Americans used to let streams wash through the pounded acorn meat for a couple of weeks, until the tannins were thoroughly washed out or diluted. Raw acorns can bring livestock overfeeding on them to a quick and unpleasant death by severe ulceration of the gastrointestinal tract and painful shutdown of the kidneys, often accompanied by profuse bleeing from the nose. Acorns from the red oak are the worst, but even acorns from the white oak must be boiled for at least an hour and the water poured off several times before they are fit for human consumption.

            My sympathies are with Francis Bacon who wrote "Acorns were good till bread was found." Our ancestors carefully "bred" (excuse the pun) major toxins out of barley and spelt so they could be simply prepared without the cook having to leach poisons out of each batch. Some people buy frozen soybeans, and, after thawing, eat them raw. Though soybeans are still amazingly complex chemical mixtures of nutrients and anti-nutrients, their toxicity is low enough to permit this, thanks again to our ancestors. Somehow, our ancestors slipped up when it comes to the acorn; they left it filled with unesculent concentarations of tannins that at the very least can cause gastic distress and at the worse can kill.

            Personally I'll eat the low-toxic and prodigiously nutritious figs, millet, buckwheat, cabbage, blueberries, and peas and leave the acorns to whatever member of the animal kingdom (if any) is tough enough to eat them with impunity.

            Bob Monie--eating a low-toxic bananna (no leaching required; just peel off the skin) in
            south Louisiana.



            les landeck <offeringsoftheland@...> wrote:
            Hi Jamie,

            It may be a good idea not to eat any more acorns,
            until you read up on them. handled and or prepared
            incorrectly will poison you. the Native Americans in
            my area used acorns as a staple. but in speaking with
            them about the acorn bread the first question was who
            prepared the acorns. it's not an easy job and it must
            be done right, eating raw is out of the question, that
            bitterness is the tannin that must be removed. if you
            search Pomo,Miwok and dig through their should be some
            information on acorns.

            stay well Les








            --- jamie <jamie@...> wrote:
            > Hello everyone, I've spent some of the last
            monththere
            > have been many that have been ferociously bitter
            > there have equally been
            > those not far from palatable and at least 2 trees
            > where the acorn can be
            > eaten out of hand where the taste is not disimilar
            > to chestnuts (perhaps
            > without quite the same sweetness). The main species
            > are Quercus ilex and Q.
            > kermes, with Q.ilex the most palatable.
            >
            > I'm wondering if others are using their own native
            > acorns and how they
            > prepare and use them. I'm also wondering if there is
            > a change in taste
            > dependent upon the yearly climatic factors or
            > whether taste (especially
            > sweetness and tannin content remain fairly
            > constant). If anyone can point me
            > to online information or other books discussing
            > acorns I'd appreciate it.
            >
            > Jamie
            > Souscayrous
            >
            >

            > tasting acorns from the
            > many oaks in this area inspired by Russel Smith's
            > 'Tree Crops'. While



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          • sinniss@shaw.ca
            There is but one oak species native to my area, (Quercus garryana). I was once told that the acorns are quite sweet and mild, as acorns go, so I ve tried them
            Message 5 of 14 , Dec 17, 2003
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              There is but one oak species native to my area, (Quercus garryana). I
              was once told that the acorns are quite sweet and mild, as acorns go, so
              I've tried them on occasion, two or three at a time. They do seem
              relatively mild, but only compared to other acorns. Aboriginal people
              here ate them. The acorns can even be eaten raw if you don't mind bitter
              food and you don't eat too many, but the usual practice was to steam,
              boil, or roast the acorns for a very long time to make them more
              palatable. Further south, in Oregon and California, there were more
              elaborate leaching methods. I've heard people in other parts of the
              world used treatment with mineral clay, with the same purpose of
              removing tannins. If nobody else on the list has it to hand I can dig up
              the reference, but I haven't tried those methods myself, so the
              information would be second or third hand. I'd try Bill Mollison's book
              on the topic of food preparation (if memory is correct, I think it was
              called something like "The Big Book of Fermentation")

              I understand that oaks vary quite a bit in their tannin content, even
              within a species (Jamie, that would be why you found some trees better
              than others). Breeding from these "sweet" oaks would be quite a project,
              though, partly because there are many different genes controlling tannin
              content and partly because oak tree generations are so long. Not so much
              that our ancestors "slipped up", but that the project is a bit beyond
              the usual human time horizons.

              Acorn flour is apparently higher in fats and protein than grains, though
              I don't have anything on the amino acid profile. Quite tasty, too. One
              day I may try making some, but it sounds like quite a lot of work for
              what you get.

              Stephen

              jamie wrote:

              > Hello everyone, I've spent some of the last month tasting acorns from
              > the
              > many oaks in this area inspired by Russel Smith's 'Tree Crops'. While
              > there
              > have been many that have been ferociously bitter there have equally
              > been
              > those not far from palatable and at least 2 trees where the acorn can
              > be
              > eaten out of hand where the taste is not disimilar to chestnuts
              > (perhaps
              > without quite the same sweetness). The main species are Quercus ilex
              > and Q.
              > kermes, with Q.ilex the most palatable.
              >
              > I'm wondering if others are using their own native acorns and how they
              >
              > prepare and use them. I'm also wondering if there is a change in taste
              >
              > dependent upon the yearly climatic factors or whether taste
              > (especially
              > sweetness and tannin content remain fairly constant). If anyone can
              > point me
              > to online information or other books discussing acorns I'd appreciate
              > it.
              >
              > Jamie
              > Souscayrous
              >
              >
              >
              > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
              > fukuoka_farming-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > ---------------------------------------------------------------
              > Yahoo! Groups Links
              >
              > * To visit your group on the web, go to:
              > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/fukuoka_farming/
              >
              > * To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
              > fukuoka_farming-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
              >
              > * Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of
              > Service.
              >
            • jamie
              Hello everyone, thanks for all the replies on acorns. I d not thought acorns were toxic, just sometimes extremely bitter. Russell Smith talks about people in
              Message 6 of 14 , Dec 18, 2003
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                Hello everyone, thanks for all the replies on acorns.

                I'd not thought acorns were toxic, just sometimes extremely bitter. Russell
                Smith talks about people in Spain and Portugal eating acorns out of hand
                from the trees without mention of any adverse effects, even relating that
                they were sold alongside sweet chestnuts at markets.

                Perhaps the confusion here is due to two distinct misapprehensions: firstly,
                the role of tannin; tannin is not toxic to humans, especially as this is the
                bitter element in certain foodstuffs and therefore makes food of high tannin
                content unpalatable - it is the bitterness found in tea that has stewed too
                long. It is soluble in water, which is no doubt why people leach tannin-rich
                acorns before preparation for food, thereby making acorns a simple and
                abundant food for humans. Secondly, the different oak species; as mentioned
                there is great diversity within the same species and therefore between
                species there will no doubt be even greater diversity which might also
                entail the possibilities of other substances that might be toxic. Therefore,
                as with all wild foods, it is reccommended to taste only a small amount of
                unknown toxicity before preparing larger quantities for consumption. I've
                probably had 10 acorns in one day with no ill effects, but then these were
                not bitter at all.

                My interest in acorns is that Q. ilex is the local climax hardwood (in
                association with box, Buxus semprevirens) and therefore if you leave the
                land to itself it will eventually pass through successive stages of plants
                until finally the oak/box create a 'stable' forest. Imagine selecting and
                scattering only the most palatable acorns across this region, which is only
                now beginning the succession back to forest because the herds of sheep and
                goats no longer graze the higher hills and ridges, and within 20 years you
                would have a staple food available simply through harvesting the acorns: No
                ploughing, No fertilizers, No pesticides, No pruning, No leaching...through
                only the lightest human intervention (selecting the acorns to scatter) the
                Corbières, Fenouillèdes and the foothills of the Pyrenées could supply a
                large part of France's needs. Of course, this could also be applied to
                other countries in the Mediterannean basin, where Q. ilex is also the climax
                hardwood - but then, I suspect this is exactly what Fukuoka and Panos had in
                mind with their Greenbelt Southern Europe Project!

                Such forests would not only supply food but help establish and stabilise the
                most biodiverse life and bring rain back to these semi-arid lands (as
                Fukuoka says rain falls up from the ground - the reason there is so little
                rain in california is because of the denudation of the native flora,
                revegetate the hills and the rains will return).

                By doing nothing (except scattering seed) we feed ourselves with no effort
                and begin to heal the scars our agriculture has left on nature. And while I
                feel faintly ridiculous sounding, no doubt, like some obsessed Old Testament
                Prophet, this forest regrowth is happening before my eyes at Souscayrous,
                making my attempts at market gardening seem even more insignificant than I
                previously suspected.

                For those interested in such detail here is a nutritional analysis of acorns
                as compared to cornmeal and wheat flour taken from Russell Smith's book
                (note particularly acorns fat content). The percentages below relate to
                acorns (unleached California Valley White Oak), cornmeal and wheat flour
                respectively;

                Water 8.7 12.5 11.5
                Ash 2 1 0.5
                Fat 18.6 1.9 1
                Protein 5.7 9.2 11.4
                Carbohydrate65 74.4 75.4
                Fibre ND 1 0.2
                Tannin 6.63 ND ND

                ND means No Data

                And to finish off my hymn to the acorn here's an old Spanish poem (by
                Wiffens Garcillasso I believe) that suggests the role of acorns in everyday
                life some centuries ago:

                Hast thou forgotten, too,
                Childhood's sweet sports, whence first my passion grew,
                When from the bowery ilex I shook down
                It's autumn fruit which from the crag's high crown
                We tasted, sitting chattering side by side,
                Who climbed trees swinging o'er the hoarse deep tide,
                And poured into thy lap, or at thy feet,
                Their kernel's nuts, sweetest of the sweet.


                Jamie
                Souscayrous


                -----Original Message-----
                From: sinniss@... [mailto:sinniss@...]
                Sent: jeudi 18 décembre 2003 06:21
                To: fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com
                Subject: Re: [fukuoka_farming] acorns


                There is but one oak species native to my area, (Quercus garryana). I
                was once told that the acorns are quite sweet and mild, as acorns go, so
                I've tried them on occasion, two or three at a time. They do seem
                relatively mild, but only compared to other acorns. Aboriginal people
                here ate them. The acorns can even be eaten raw if you don't mind bitter
                food and you don't eat too many, but the usual practice was to steam,
                boil, or roast the acorns for a very long time to make them more
                palatable. Further south, in Oregon and California, there were more
                elaborate leaching methods. I've heard people in other parts of the
                world used treatment with mineral clay, with the same purpose of
                removing tannins. If nobody else on the list has it to hand I can dig up
                the reference, but I haven't tried those methods myself, so the
                information would be second or third hand. I'd try Bill Mollison's book
                on the topic of food preparation (if memory is correct, I think it was
                called something like "The Big Book of Fermentation")

                I understand that oaks vary quite a bit in their tannin content, even
                within a species (Jamie, that would be why you found some trees better
                than others). Breeding from these "sweet" oaks would be quite a project,
                though, partly because there are many different genes controlling tannin
                content and partly because oak tree generations are so long. Not so much
                that our ancestors "slipped up", but that the project is a bit beyond
                the usual human time horizons.

                Acorn flour is apparently higher in fats and protein than grains, though
                I don't have anything on the amino acid profile. Quite tasty, too. One
                day I may try making some, but it sounds like quite a lot of work for
                what you get.

                Stephen

                jamie wrote:

                > Hello everyone, I've spent some of the last month tasting acorns from
                > the
                > many oaks in this area inspired by Russel Smith's 'Tree Crops'. While
                > there
                > have been many that have been ferociously bitter there have equally
                > been
                > those not far from palatable and at least 2 trees where the acorn can
                > be
                > eaten out of hand where the taste is not disimilar to chestnuts
                > (perhaps
                > without quite the same sweetness). The main species are Quercus ilex
                > and Q.
                > kermes, with Q.ilex the most palatable.
                >
                > I'm wondering if others are using their own native acorns and how they
                >
                > prepare and use them. I'm also wondering if there is a change in taste
                >
                > dependent upon the yearly climatic factors or whether taste
                > (especially
                > sweetness and tannin content remain fairly constant). If anyone can
                > point me
                > to online information or other books discussing acorns I'd appreciate
                > it.
                >
                > Jamie
                > Souscayrous
                >
                >
                >
                > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
                > fukuoka_farming-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                >
                >
                >
                >
                > ---------------------------------------------------------------
                > Yahoo! Groups Links
                >
                > * To visit your group on the web, go to:
                > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/fukuoka_farming/
                >
                > * To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
                > fukuoka_farming-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                >
                > * Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of
                > Service.
                >


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              • AaronBrachfeld@aol.com
                The dream of acorns as a staple is not new. Many native tribes throughout North America consumed Acorns: Acorn flour, acorn butter, stewed acorns, roasted
                Message 7 of 14 , Dec 18, 2003
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                  The dream of acorns as a staple is not new. Many native tribes throughout North America consumed Acorns: Acorn flour, acorn butter, stewed acorns, roasted acorns, etc. etc.

                  The only problem with acorns is that they are very hard to mechanically harvest. This is primarily why they have fallen out of favor with many producers.

                  --Aaron Brachfeld, Colorado
                • jamie
                  Hello Aaron, If I may change what you write slightly: the use of acorns as a staple food is not a dream as the North American Indians showed. The only problem
                  Message 8 of 14 , Dec 19, 2003
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                    Hello Aaron, If I may change what you write slightly: the use of acorns as a
                    staple food is not a dream as the North American Indians showed.

                    The only problem with harvesting acorns is when mankind creates an
                    environment where 'he' becomes the producer (and not nature, with all the
                    paraphenalia of modern farming that that entails) and tries to grow and
                    harvest them mechanically.

                    Acorns have primarily fallen out of favour because of the dream of
                    mechanisation.

                    Jamie

                    -----Original Message-----
                    From: AaronBrachfeld@... [mailto:AaronBrachfeld@...]
                    Sent: jeudi 18 décembre 2003 18:36
                    To: fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com
                    Subject: Re: [fukuoka_farming] acorns


                    The dream of acorns as a staple is not new. Many native tribes throughout
                    North America consumed Acorns: Acorn flour, acorn butter, stewed acorns,
                    roasted acorns, etc. etc.

                    The only problem with acorns is that they are very hard to mechanically
                    harvest. This is primarily why they have fallen out of favor with many
                    producers.

                    --Aaron Brachfeld, Colorado

                    To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
                    fukuoka_farming-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com



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                  • Ingrid Bauer/Jean-Claude Catry
                    jamie do you have a nutritional chart for comparaison with chestnut or beech ? did acorn in france was as widelly used as chestnut ? would be interested to
                    Message 9 of 14 , Dec 20, 2003
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                      jamie
                      do you have a nutritional chart for comparaison with chestnut or beech ?

                      did acorn in france was as widelly used as chestnut ? would be interested to get some seeds of your sweet acorn.

                      jean-claude


                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • jamie
                      Hello Jean-Claude, I ll be happy to send you through some of the sweet acorns (taste tested by Anne, my wife, who gave them her seal of approval and she s far
                      Message 10 of 14 , Dec 21, 2003
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                        Hello Jean-Claude, I'll be happy to send you through some of the sweet
                        acorns (taste tested by Anne, my wife, who gave them her seal of approval
                        and she's far less zealous in her appreciation of wild foods than I). Let me
                        know your address off-list and I'll send them over to you. Obviously, the
                        offer holds good for anyone else who wants to try some Quercus ilex var.
                        Ballota(?).

                        Below I'm including some details comparing acorns, sweet chestnuts and
                        potatoes from the work of Marc Bonfils. I'm currently working with other
                        members of Association Las Encantadas to put Marc's work up on the internet
                        (the work is currently available in printed form only at no little cost).
                        Most of the work is in French so might be of especial interest to you.

                        acorns chestnuts potatoes
                        water 8.7-44.6 ND ND
                        Carbohydrates 32.7-89.7 40 20
                        Proteins 2.3-8.6 4 1.8-2
                        Fats 1.1-31.3 2.6 0.5
                        tannins 0.1-8.8 ND ND
                        Kcal/100g 265-577 ND ND

                        I'll keep you informed of developments.

                        Jamie



                        -----Original Message-----
                        From: Ingrid Bauer/Jean-Claude Catry [mailto:instinct@...]
                        Sent: samedi 20 décembre 2003 17:56
                        To: fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com
                        Subject: Re: [fukuoka_farming] acorns



                        jamie
                        do you have a nutritional chart for comparaison with chestnut or beech ?

                        did acorn in france was as widelly used as chestnut ? would be interested
                        to get some seeds of your sweet acorn.

                        jean-claude


                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


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                      • Ingrid Bauer/Jean-Claude Catry
                        jaimie i don t know your email adress jean-claude [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        Message 11 of 14 , Dec 21, 2003
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                          jaimie i don't know your email adress
                          jean-claude



                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • sinniss@shaw.ca
                          Hello all, I think the oak tree project is a wonderful idea. Some thoughts on this. From recent posts (thanks for these!), it looks as if selecting for
                          Message 12 of 14 , Dec 23, 2003
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                            Hello all,

                            I think the oak tree project is a wonderful idea. Some thoughts on this.

                            From recent posts (thanks for these!), it looks as if selecting for
                            "sweeter" acorns already has taken place, at least in parts of Europe,
                            even though it is over a span of generations (as it would need to be)
                            and the process isn't complete yet. This is good news, because the
                            project needs that head-start.

                            The difficulty, as I understand it, is that crossing two "sweet" oaks
                            doesn't necessarily give you more sweet acorns from the next generation.
                            Suppose there are a dozen different genes for tannin production. Unless
                            the two trees in question are sweet because of the same gene, then when
                            you cross them you are back to the standard level of tannin production
                            (tree A was sweet because of it's unusual on gene 3, tree B was sweet
                            because it is unusual on gene 8; when you cross them you get a tree that
                            is typical at both genes). If I'm not explaining this well, perhaps one
                            of the plant-breeding people on this list can say it a better. The point
                            is that if you stay at it for a large number of oak generations you will
                            get there, but it's not like breeding for non-bitter almonds (cyanide
                            content in almonds is governed by fewer genes, or maybe just one). Ten
                            plus years per generation of oaks, so this is a long term project. Worth
                            it, though, in the end, and besides, even the less desireable acorns can
                            be eaten if they are leached first.

                            Tannins are indeed harmful in quantity, like anything else, and (though
                            I've not seen it myself) it is possible make yourself sick with too many
                            bitter acorns. Shuts down the digestive stystem, and hard on the kidneys
                            too. That unpleasant taste is a warning worth heeding. Yes, some dilute
                            tannin in your tea or your greens or whatever is fine, but those large
                            quantities of tannins are there precisely to prevent the all the acorns
                            from being eaten, whether by insects, pigs, or humans (otherwise, no
                            next generation of oak trees). So, whether by treating the acorns or
                            breeding the trees, you need to be eating a low tannin acorn meal to
                            stay healthy if you want to make it a staple in your diet.

                            Leaving the oak trees entirely to breed alone, without doing any
                            selection, could lead back to bitter acorns. The tannins are there
                            because they give the tree some advantage (or possibly they are there as
                            a side effect of something else that gives the tree a survival
                            advantage). Does this mean that the sweeter trees are the weaker trees?
                            Possibly.

                            I'll check some of my local native oaks (Q. garryana) for edible acorns
                            again, and if I find something interesting I'll let you all know
                            (Jean-Claude, have you sampled any? there should be some in your area as
                            well). Perhaps there are some better trees (better, that is, from the
                            point of view of a human). Oaks are only a part of the climax forest in
                            these parts, and a small one, so the sample size is small. Perhaps some
                            Q. ilex imports will be necessary for a starting point instead;
                            according to reference books they will grow here.

                            I have another idea towards edible forests, but it belongs in another
                            post.

                            Stephen
                          • jamie
                            Hello everyone, I should make it clear that my acorn interest comes directly from J. Russell Smith s Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture (originally published
                            Message 13 of 14 , Dec 23, 2003
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                              Hello everyone, I should make it clear that my acorn interest comes directly
                              from J. Russell Smith's 'Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture'(originally
                              published in 1929), but that his sources are those referred to recently by
                              Francisco, the 'dehesa' practice of cork (Q. suber) and holm oaks (Q. ilex)
                              to provide both 'cork and pork' sustainably.

                              I can't unfortunately briefly summarise his comments as there are more than
                              50 pages on oaks in the book and it does lack the practical farming detail
                              hinted at by Francisco. Still, there are little gems like the following
                              that, with some personal experience and other similar work that I've come
                              across in tropical climates, temperate forest gardens and the notes of Marc
                              Bonfils (who I learnt today is alive and well and living in Provence)
                              suggest a strong lead for future work:

                              "In some sections of Spain and Portugal, the young ilex trees are allowed to
                              grow where they have by chance sprung up in the fields. Around and under the
                              trees the machineless cultivation of wheat and beans, barley and hay, goes
                              on just the same. This combination of crops gives a beautiful parklike
                              landscape. The cultivation helps the oaks make acorns, and after the grains
                              and other crops are harvested, the hogs are turned in to gather the mast
                              crop."p169

                              As to the 'genetic' variability suggested by Stephen I think the 'sweetness'
                              is a stable factor and the only selection needed is for taste (ie the oaks
                              of acorns come true, AKA homozygous). This doesn't mean that there wont be
                              some differences between parents and offspring, only that they wont be as
                              variable as with some fruit. If you place 'ballota' oaks together you're
                              likely to increase your chances of similar offspring but then you loose the
                              genetic diversity for long term stability. For John's idea I'd suggest using
                              'sweet' oaks from as many sources as possible to set the whole project in
                              train and be around for the next several hundred years to ensure good
                              selection. The acorns I'm offering come from a tree that is on communal land
                              just a few metres from Souscayrous and is 'wild'. It's not too old and
                              hasn't produced too many acorns yet (200-300 at a guess) - and no John,
                              we're not too late as there were still many on the tree, or at least there
                              were but the recent wind will have brought down many and it will depend on
                              whether the herd of goats and sheep beat me to them tomorrow!

                              As to Q. garryana, Smith says this: 'One tree noted produced five hundred
                              pounds of acorns, another six hundred pounds. A third, rather small,
                              produced two bushels. Crops occur at intervals of from three to four years.
                              Fruit is frequently killed by frosts.' This is under forage crop and not for
                              human consumption, though leaching would work.

                              Jamie
                              Souscayrous


                              -----Original Message-----
                              From: sinniss@... [mailto:sinniss@...]
                              Sent: mardi 23 décembre 2003 16:47
                              To: fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com
                              Subject: Re: [fukuoka_farming] acorns


                              Hello all,

                              I think the oak tree project is a wonderful idea. Some thoughts on this.

                              From recent posts (thanks for these!), it looks as if selecting for
                              "sweeter" acorns already has taken place, at least in parts of Europe,
                              even though it is over a span of generations (as it would need to be)
                              and the process isn't complete yet. This is good news, because the
                              project needs that head-start.

                              The difficulty, as I understand it, is that crossing two "sweet" oaks
                              doesn't necessarily give you more sweet acorns from the next generation.
                              Suppose there are a dozen different genes for tannin production. Unless
                              the two trees in question are sweet because of the same gene, then when
                              you cross them you are back to the standard level of tannin production
                              (tree A was sweet because of it's unusual on gene 3, tree B was sweet
                              because it is unusual on gene 8; when you cross them you get a tree that
                              is typical at both genes). If I'm not explaining this well, perhaps one
                              of the plant-breeding people on this list can say it a better. The point
                              is that if you stay at it for a large number of oak generations you will
                              get there, but it's not like breeding for non-bitter almonds (cyanide
                              content in almonds is governed by fewer genes, or maybe just one). Ten
                              plus years per generation of oaks, so this is a long term project. Worth
                              it, though, in the end, and besides, even the less desireable acorns can
                              be eaten if they are leached first.

                              Tannins are indeed harmful in quantity, like anything else, and (though
                              I've not seen it myself) it is possible make yourself sick with too many
                              bitter acorns. Shuts down the digestive stystem, and hard on the kidneys
                              too. That unpleasant taste is a warning worth heeding. Yes, some dilute
                              tannin in your tea or your greens or whatever is fine, but those large
                              quantities of tannins are there precisely to prevent the all the acorns
                              from being eaten, whether by insects, pigs, or humans (otherwise, no
                              next generation of oak trees). So, whether by treating the acorns or
                              breeding the trees, you need to be eating a low tannin acorn meal to
                              stay healthy if you want to make it a staple in your diet.

                              Leaving the oak trees entirely to breed alone, without doing any
                              selection, could lead back to bitter acorns. The tannins are there
                              because they give the tree some advantage (or possibly they are there as
                              a side effect of something else that gives the tree a survival
                              advantage). Does this mean that the sweeter trees are the weaker trees?
                              Possibly.

                              I'll check some of my local native oaks (Q. garryana) for edible acorns
                              again, and if I find something interesting I'll let you all know
                              (Jean-Claude, have you sampled any? there should be some in your area as
                              well). Perhaps there are some better trees (better, that is, from the
                              point of view of a human). Oaks are only a part of the climax forest in
                              these parts, and a small one, so the sample size is small. Perhaps some
                              Q. ilex imports will be necessary for a starting point instead;
                              according to reference books they will grow here.

                              I have another idea towards edible forests, but it belongs in another
                              post.

                              Stephen





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                            • Ingrid Bauer/Jean-Claude Catry
                              (Jean-Claude, have you sampled any? there should be some in your area as well). yes just once because i eat only raw foods and assume they will be too
                              Message 14 of 14 , Dec 24, 2003
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                                (Jean-Claude, have you sampled any? there should be some in your area as
                                well). \
                                yes just once because i eat only raw foods and assume they will be too bitter as the one i tried was . But yes we manage to save may be the biggest stand of oak trees in bc from developpers . it is now an ecological reserve .

                                if you want pictures of old ones see . i am the one sitting in their mossy fork.
                                http://www.rdcraig.com/bigtrees/GOak2.HTM
                                http://www.rdcraig.com/bigtrees/GOak1.HTM
                                i have one tree on my property that is starting to be taken over by firs .i planted few more .
                                the fruit is small in comparaison of the fruits of oak in France .
                                i had the view on my previous land to plant acorns chestnut and other nuts to have wild boars underneath .

                                jean-claude




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