Are Acorns Edible? Yes & No, Let Me Explain…

By Jason K. | Last Updated: April 13, 2023

Today I’m Going To Answer The Question: Are Acorns Edible?

Are Acorns Edible

But before I can answer that, you need to understand some simple facts.

You need Carbs to survive!

Yes, carbs…the “bad guy” in every diet.

Why? Because carbohydrates are one of the easiest sources of energy for the human body to digest.

Simple carbs like honey and sugar can enter your bloodstream quickly.

These provide a near-instant energy boost and mental agility when you start to fade.

More complex carbs from whole grains provide a longer-lasting source of energy.

Making grain-based carbs better for extended periods of activity.

And a healthy body requires some carbs, just not as much as most of us consume daily.

Because if you regularly consume excess carbs (more than the body needs), your body will ultimately turn those extra carbs into fat.

Carbs are hard to avoid in the grocery store, so most of us end up on diets high in carbs.

As we all know, storing lots of fat is unhealthy. So in modern society, carbs tend to get a bad rap.

But what most people don’t realize, carbs are difficult to find in nature.

That’s not to say there aren’t wild carbohydrates out there for a savvy forager.

One of the most common wild edibles is something you’ve passed on countless walks and never considered a food source.

Acorns! But are acorns edible? Can you eat acorns? Are acorns poisonous to eat?

↓ Acorns: A Forgotten SuperFood | Marcie Mayer ↓

Today we’re going to get to the bottom of these questions and more…


Are Acorns Really Edible?

Different Types Of Oak Trees & Acorns

How To Harvest Acorns For Food

Shelling And Cleaning Your Acorns

How To Process And Leach Acorns

Drying And Grinding Your Acorns

How To Store Your Acorn Flour

Using Acorn Flour In Recipes

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Homemade acorn flour in wooden bowl

Are Acorns Really Edible? 

Yes, they are, but eating acorns is a hotly debated topic.

↓ How To Eat Acorns, But Maybe Don’t ↓

Anytime someone suggests acorns are a viable food source, someone else claims they’re poisonous.

And if you’ve ever taken a bite of one, you might be inclined to believe them. In fact, raw acorns taste TERRIBLE!

They’re incredibly bitter due to the high levels of tannins. And they will leave your mouth feeling dried out and chalky.

In fact, some studies show consuming a large number of raw acorns can often lead to health issues:

Side-Effects & Allergies of Raw Acorns

Acorn poisoning, or oak toxicity, occurs when too many raw acorns or buds are ingested, creating gastrointestinal and kidney problems.

Excessive consumption of these raw nuts can also cause nausea due to the tannin content.

Despite all that, there are some legitimate health benefits for acorns as a food source (see the Health Benefits diagram below).

Health Benefits Of Acorns

Like many nuts and seeds, they’re basically a small packet of fats, carbs, and protein.

So in a worst-case survival emergency, eating acorns as a “last resort” might be better than starving.

But what if there was a way to get around the less pleasant aspects of eating acorns?

If there were a way, then they’d become a viable long-term human food source.

A natural way to provide some healthy critical, complex carbs! Well, guess what? There is a way!

So if you want to consume acorns without the side effects, you must learn how to process acorns properly.

It comes down to knowing how to pick the right acorns to harvest and how to process them afterward.

↓ How To Make Acorns Edible ↓

You can make three different consumable end products from acorns:

  • 1) Acorn Flour
  • 2) Acorn Meal
  • 3) Acorn Oil

So let’s get started.

↓ Eating Acorns: How To Forage, Store, & Cook Acorns ↓

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Fruit of an Oak tree ripe in autumn, on a sunny day

Different Types Of Oak Trees & Acorns

Acorns grow on oak trees, and there are hundreds of unique species of oak trees. So that means there is a wide variety of acorns available.

So not all acorns are the same.

Each specific acorns have a different ratio of fat/carbs/protein.

This ratio helps determines the best way to process them into a food source.

So it’s worth learning which oaks grow in your area and how to tell them apart.

The best time of year to identify an acorn species is to start early in the spring. That’s when you can take note of the small green acorns forming in the trees.

Now you can compare these “young” acorns and the new leaves and bark. You can then use a good tree guide to see which oak species match your area.

Even if you can’t figure out the exact species, knowing a red oak from a white oak can be helpful, as you can see in the chart below.

This allows you to determine how to proceed with your harvested acorns.

Some of the best acorns for harvest are those considered “sweet,” meaning they’re low in tannins.

These include Valley, Blue, White, Pin, Burr, and Emory Oaks. These types are great for producing both acorn flour and acorn meal.

Many of these species also produce large acorns, which means fewer to peel when the time comes!

Red, black, and live oaks produce acorns extremely high in fat content. So they’re often better suited for pressing into acorn oil.

Yes, it’s still possible to make an acorn meal from them, but the high-fat content limits their storage life.

White Oak Acorn Caps

How To Harvest Acorns For Food

Once acorns begin to fall from the tree, it’s time to harvest!

If you’re lucky, the ground under your oak trees is clear, and you can gather them up by the handful.

If you’re “really” lucky (like I was this year), your oak tree is growing in a parking lot island. So the acorns fall on the pavement and can easily sweep up!

I gathered about 50 lbs of acorns in just a few minutes!

This is the best way to get a ton of acorns fast – so check out your local parks and parking areas! Many cities have mature oak trees dropping thousands of acorns in parking lots.


An Acorn Weevil

While harvesting, pay attention to split or damaged acorns and any that have a small hole in the shell.

Splits and other damage allow water to get inside or the acorn “meat” to dry out.

And a small hole is a clear sign of an oak weevil larvae and a rotten acorn.

Toss these acorns out; it’s not worth processing them; plus, oak weevil larvae are gross!

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How To Shell And Clean Acorns

After you get your harvest home, there are several ways to remove the tannins and eliminate the bitterness.

The best way is to cold-leach them in water.

This is a long and time-consuming process. But it gives better results than boiling them (another common method).

Well, be sharing the cold-leach process…

Cold Leaching

The best way to learn the cold-leaching process is to watch this excellent video from Suburban Foragers.

If you can’t watch a video right now, then read on, and we’ll explain how to do it.

↓ Making Acorn Flour – Step By Step ↓

First, you’ll need to shell all your acorns.

If you’re working with fresh acorns, this can be difficult since the shells are pliable and soft. These little suckers don’t come off without a fight!

Mature shells have had a chance to harden, so you can crack or cut the shells open.

Either way, once the shell is removed, you’ll find the acorn wrapped in a dark “skin.” This outer skin also needs to be removed.

This skin contains most of the tannins, so try to pick off as much as possible.

If you’ve got dried acorns instead of fresh ones, the shells will be easier to remove. However, the skin inside will be much more difficult.

It’s easier to remove the skins from fresh acorns.

To help, shell them in water and allow them to soak for 10-15 minutes. This softens the skin and makes it easier to remove.

I’ve also heard others claim the easiest way to remove the skins is to freeze fresh acorns for several days.

Once frozen, thaw them. Now cracking the acorn will be much easier, and the process makes the skins slide right off.

I haven’t had a chance to try this yet, but I will next year! Getting rid of the skins is the worst part!

Once skinned, immediately toss each cleaned one into a bowl of cold water before they oxidize.

Soaking won’t change the flavor profile of your acorn flour, but it lightens the color. This helps your acorn flour look more appetizing when processing is complete.

How To Process And Leach Acorns

Once you have all your acorns shelled and cleaned, the hard work is over. But the time-consuming part has just begun!

Use a strong blender or food processor and liquefy the acorn meats. I used equal parts acorns and water in my food processor, which worked out to a thick soup consistency.

Work in small batches and collect them in a large glass jar (think giant pickle jar or 1-gallon mason jar).

With all your acorns blended and the jar full, put the cap on and give it a vigorous shake to mix it up. Then store it in a cool (below 70deg), dark location (fridge, basement, garage, etc.) and let it sit overnight.

The next morning, you’ll find that the acorn solids have settled to the bottom.

Next, carefully open the lid and pour out the surface water. Do this without disturbing the acorn-submerged solids.

Now, refill the jar with fresh cold water, screw the cap on tight, and give it another shake before putting it back!

Repeat this process daily.

This cold-leach process removes much of the remaining tannins and bitter chemicals. These tannins and chemicals slowly leach out into the water little by little each day.

But how will you know when it’s done?

After a few days, give the solids a small taste.

If they’re bland, the leaching process is complete. If the solids are still bitter, go a few more days and taste again…

As A Way To Introduce You To Skilled Survival, We're Giving Away Our Family First Food Planning Guide. Click Here To Get Your FREE Copy Of It.

How To Dry And Grind Your Acorns

When the leaching process is complete, you’ll need to dry and grind the resulting flour before using it.

Line a strainer with fine cheesecloth and pour the acorn mixture into it.

Let it drain through the strainer until it stops.

Then wrap the cheesecloth tight and carefully squeeze the rest of the water out of the acorns.

Spread the wet acorn meal in a thin layer on cookie sheets or flat pans. Now use a food dehydrator (or your oven on low heat) to dry the meal thoroughly.

This can take several hours or even overnight, but be sure to get it as dry as possible.

Once the acorn meal is entirely dehydrated, you have 2 options:

  1. use it as is – a coarse-textured “corn” meal (like cornmeal)
  2. or grind it further to make acorn flour

Again, a food processor or blender will work to turn the meal into flour, as will a small coffee grinder. But consider getting a quality flour mill if you want to process acorn flour often.

Finally, sift the ground meal to get clean, fine acorn flour.

Note: Make sure you check out our post on the best grain mills on the market.

How To Store Acorn Flour

Acorn flour generally contains higher amounts of fat than other meals and is more prone to going rancid in warm temps.

So, it’s best to store it in tightly sealed jars (or mylar bags with oxygen absorbers) and keep it refrigerated – similar to storing all other emergency survival foods.

If you’re not going to use it in the next few days, put it in the freezer to be safe.

Here’s a video that details how to store flour for long-term storage:

↓ How To Store Flour The Best Way For Long-Term Food Storage ↓

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How To Use Your Acorn Flour

Acorn flour has a slightly nutty taste and is sweet in a mild way.

It’s obviously gluten-free (no wheat = no gluten) and can be used instead of many other gluten-free flours.

This also means it will not rise the way traditional wheat flour will.

But it is fine for dense baked goods (such as bread, cookies, or bars).

↓ How To Make Acorn Bread ↓

It also works well as a base for sauces or a soup thickener.

You can also mix it with regular flour to cut the acorn taste. And this mix helps retain some of the benefits of traditional wheat flour.

So CAN You Eat Acorns? Yes, you can.

Final Thoughts

If you’re still seeing acorns on the ground, it’s time to add another foraged food source to your food supplies.

So are acorns edible? Absolutely. They’re plentiful and nutritious as long as you take the time to process them correctly.

From what I’ve seen, there’s not a lot of (human) competition for a big acorn haul, making acorns a good “last resort” type of prepper food.

But you might have to fight off a lot of angry squirrels!

Jason K.

  • Born & Raised In The Remote Woods Of Michigan
  • Engineering Degree From A Major University
  • Long Standing Member Of Mountain Search & Rescue
  • Offical Gear Tester For Several Outdoor Companies
  • Avid Outdoorsman: Backpacking, Camping, Fishing
  • Years Researching & Writing About Surival & Gear
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