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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
      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
    • 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 2 of 14 , Dec 17, 2003
        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 3 of 14 , Dec 17, 2003
          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 4 of 14 , Dec 17, 2003
            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 5 of 14 , Dec 18, 2003
              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 6 of 14 , Dec 18, 2003
                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 7 of 14 , Dec 19, 2003
                  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 8 of 14 , Dec 20, 2003
                    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 9 of 14 , Dec 21, 2003
                      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]


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




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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 10 of 14 , Dec 21, 2003
                        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 11 of 14 , Dec 23, 2003
                          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 12 of 14 , Dec 23, 2003
                            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 13 of 14 , Dec 24, 2003
                              (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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