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By gerilynn on Sat, 08-27-05, 14:36

I was wondering, as I was sitting in a park yesterday with acorns falling all around us..........ARE ACORNS TREE NUTS? My daughter is allergice to many tree nuts and I was just wondering how to avoid these, if necessary!

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By on Sat, 08-27-05, 15:34

gerilynn, I just did a simple Google and most of the sites re acorns were about how to cook them, because apparently they aren't very pleasant tasting without some kind of preparation. At any rate, it would look as though they are considered a "tree nut" but perhaps this is something you might want to contact FAAN about, I'm not sure.

Here is the information I pulled off one of the websites:-

Acorns, the familiar globular becapped seeds of oak trees, are packed with vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates to assure that "the mighty oak from a tiny acorn grows." As a pest-repellant, they also contain tannin, which is primarily tannic acid or gallotannic acid (C76H52O46), a yellow to brown-colored, mildly toxic, intensely bitter chemical. Tannin was extracted from many trees -- preeminently from hemlock bark -- in the old days and used medically as an astringent and burn treatment, and to preserve, or "tan," animal hides. The tannin doesn't seem to bother most wildlife, but must be removed to make acorns palatable to humans.

Acorns of the white oak contain the least tannin of any oak that is native to North America. Many people find the sweet nuts edible as is, but the tannin should be leached out if they are to be consumed in any quantity without producing digestive complaints.

Scrub oak is a low, pitchy species, and their acorns, like those of the sour-smelling red oak, may not leach clear of tannin no matter how you try. We wouldn't bother trying, but would concenrate on white oak acorns.

Harvest only plump, full-sized nuts. They are fully mature when shells are getting dry and brown or tinged with brown. The dryer the better, but any full-sized nut is usable. Nuts from soft-shelled, green acorns will be moister and more bitter than if mature, but are still edible. You can shake branches or climb the tree if you want, but mature nuts are eventually dropped whole or shed from the caps that remain on the tree for a while, so collecting them from under the tree daily should do. You'll have to get up early to beat the squirrels, who gather and bury great numbers.

Discard any misshapen or discolored nuts or any with small holes bored in them; insides will be eaten by, and may still contain, insect larvae.

Nuts must be mashed to remove tannin most quickly, so there's no need to try and harvest the kernels whole. Smash acorns between two rocks, pick out shell pieces and keep mashed kernels. Sniff each one and discard any that smell sour; they have fermented, lost nutrients and will taste bad.

Tannin is grudgingly water soluble. To leach it out, it is easiest to soak the mashed kernels in flowing water. Native Americans put them in a fine-mesh bag and submerged them in a flowing stream for a week or two. If you don't have ready access to a stream, you can soak them loose or in an old pillow case in a wash tub; be sure to change the water repeatedly and agitate frequently.

Boiling the mashed kernels in several changes of water will leach out tannin faster than passive soaking. Boil till water remains unstained.

Air-dry leached kernels (Native Americans built drying platforms on 5-foot poles to keep drying food away from dogs, wildlife and small children, and kept watch over them 24 hours a day). A hammock spread with a sheet, kept wide open with sticks and hung in the sun works well. Or, dry in an oven set low or in a dehydrator.

Use as you would any other nut: salted as a snack, mixed with dry fruits and whole grains in trail mix or cooked in nut breads. Toast kernels in a medium oven till light brown for a more tasty product. Or, grind bone-dry kernels, raw or toasted, into flour. Use in pan breads.

For Indian acorn bread: mix acorn flour with water and a little salt to make a soft dough. Scatter a little anti-stick wood ash on a flat rock from the campfire, pat acorn dough flat and slap onto the rock. Cook till edges curl, turn and, after the other side is done, roll around a slip of wild onion, a few mashed beans and a strip of chili or whatever relish you have on hand.

Lacking much oil, dry acorns will store well if kept dry. Protect from rodents in sealed containers, or bag and hang from rafters above the fire in your hogan.


You can retain acorn leach water and boil it off or let it evaporate. The remaining brown residue is tannin plus whatever salts are in your water. To tan hides, mix tannin powder with pure (Kosher or canning) salt and water. Dehair hides in potash water from rain-leached wood fire ash and scrape the loose "fell" from inner surface. Soak and knead hides in tannin till they become evenly tan-colored (your hands will take on a persistent darker shade as well unless you use rubber gloves). Remove from tanning liquor and wash out salt. Oil moist hide with deer brain or with bear fat that's been cleaned (boiled and cooled in three changes of water; use only floating, hard fat). Use suet if you lack a fresh deer brain or bear fat. Use neatsfoot oil if you must. Work oil in and water out over a smooth log -- moistening and oiling repeatedly till soft and supple -- and you have leather.

Mix leached, dried acorn meats with dried venison or other lean meat, whole ripe grains, dry berries and enough hard fat and maple sugar to bind, and pack it in boiled, dried and oiled natural porcupine casing (outer layer of intestine) to make one version of pemmican, trail ration of the eastern woodland Indians.

Today, you can substitute dried beef for venison and chunky peanut butter for fat (either homemade or bought). Leach and dry your own acorns, split-to-dry cranberries and blueberries, and sun-dry wild strawberries and raspberries in season. Mix and roll in waxed paper like Giant Tootsie Rolls to make modern pemmican. You can walk for half a day on a thumb's length.

Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

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By Lori Anne on Sat, 08-27-05, 15:39

I did a search to find other threads on this. I did find something, but it wasn't very recent. I'll still post the info for you. However, it may be a good idea to contact FAAN to get recent information.

Here goes:

This was posted by Jana in 2002:

Jana R
Posts: 590
Registered: Feb 99

posted September 19, 2002 11:05 AM


This came up at our last Food Education Allergy Support Team meeting to our medical advisor who said to contact FAAN. One of our members did and this is the response:
"Lynn Christie answered this question for an upcoming newsletter...

There is no information in the literature that suggests that individuals with a nut allergy should avoid skin contact with acorns. Acorns are the fruit or nut of the oak tree. Like tree nuts that cause allergic
reactions in some individuals, acorns have a hard shell or outer coating and the "meat" of the nut is inside. Fortunately, we do not use acorns as a part of our diets like the Native Americans did over 400 years ago. The meat of the acorn is very bitter and requires intense labor to make it palatable.

When someone is diagnosed with a tree nut allergy, they may be allergic to one or more types of tree nuts. They are usually counseled to avoid all tree nuts: almond, Brazil nut, cashew, chestnut, filbert/hazelnuts, hickory nuts, macadamia nuts, pecan, pine nuts, pistachios, and walnuts. This is because of the difficulty in determining if one type of nut is
substituted for another in a recipe, cross-contact during processing or shipping, and
unlikely potential of cross-reactivity. These situations put one at risk of an accidental ingestion.

If one has skin contact with the "meat" of the specific tree nut to which they are allergic, they may experience hives or contact dermatitis.
This is very individualized. There were no scientific papers or case reports of
allergic reactions associated with skin exposure to acorns or pinecones. After consulting with my peers, we comfortably recommend that if one has a nut allergy, they should be able to have contact with
acorns or pinecones without risk of an allergic reaction.

Lynn Christie, M.S., is a registered dietitian and clinical coordinator
for the Pediatric Allergy and Immunology Division at Arkansas Children's
Hospital, University of Arkansas Medical Science, Little Rock, AR. She is also a member of FAAN's Program Committee."


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By on Sat, 08-27-05, 16:29

Lori Anne, thank-you, that was a LOT more helpful than what I posted.

My son is PA only and yesterday he was playing with acorns. Again, he is PA only (I've always thought acorns were so cute! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] ).

Anyway, no, that was a lot more helpful, I believe.

Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

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By gerilynn on Sat, 08-27-05, 16:32

Thank you both..something else to worry about! I know she is allergic to macadamia nuts and will break out in hives if she comes in contact!

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By Lori Anne on Sat, 08-27-05, 17:58

csc...You are always helpful and go out of your way to find info. I think it's great that you looked it up.

I did try to contact FAAN for more recent info, but the message was not received. I was informed that my message was not delivered because "the user is out of space." So I'll have to try back.

I was also wondering about acorns because my daughter is allergic to tree nuts. If I get an answer, I'll post it!

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By gerilynn on Sat, 08-27-05, 18:36

Thanks for checking! I would appreciate any info you find!

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By rebekahc on Sun, 08-28-05, 03:12

Here's my personal experience: I'm severely allergic to oak pollen. I'm also allergic to peanuts and tree nuts. I grew up with 76 oak trees in my yard and regularly handled acorns in their shells. I never had a problem from touching them. I did have an aversion to touching the meat inside the shell, though. Maybe my body keeping me safe? At any rate, acorns in their shells never bothered me even though I'm severely oak allergic and tree nut allergic.


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By gvmom on Sun, 08-28-05, 18:50

We actually asked the allergist about acorns because my Dad's backyard is littered with them from a huge tree in the corner, and they are considered nut enough for me to worry. From what we understood though, it would take an enormous quantity to produce a problem. My Dad still rakes them up though. I'd still try to talk to your allergist, just to be on the safe side. (My son is peanut & tree nut allergic)

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By Lori Anne on Mon, 08-29-05, 17:00

I asked FAAN:

Can you please clear up some confusion for me? My daughter has been
>diagnosed with a peanut and tree nut allergy. Can she safely do arts and
>crafts with acorns? Should she avoid acorns at all costs? What if the
>acorns are cracked open? Does that make them more harmful? Please let me

Their reply:
We are not aware of any allergic reactions caused by acorns, so avoidance
is not recommended, except to prevent confusion in young children. For
instance, a young child might not be able to distinguish between acorns and
chestnuts they find on the ground, so some people advocate having a young
child avoid picking up anything they find under a tree.

Hope this helped!

[This message has been edited by Lori Anne (edited August 29, 2005).]

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By NJMomofPA on Thu, 09-15-05, 16:45

Well today 4 yr old DS came home from PreK with a Letter A made from Popcicle Sticks with an Acorn glued on it. I immediatly did a search and found this thread and the response Lori Anne posted from FAAN. I then decided it warrented a call to the Director of his PN/TN FREE school. I explained it is a confussion factor in my opinon...and will the other children and their parents feel it is safe to bring in another Nut when studying another letter...say "C" Cashew?
Each child has a letter bag and they bring in three items starting with the letter they are learning each week. She was very nice and said she did not realize or really think of it as a nut! Unfortunatly DS who will not take anything to eat from anyone said it is OK Mom... I won't eat it...and the learning continues, for all of us!

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