Oak acorns have historically provided food for humans and animals in cultures across Asia, North Africa, Europe, and North America. The advent of the twentieth-century saw acorns become marginalized as a food crop in the United States and most of the world, but they have remained a constant part of the cuisine of the Korean Peninsula. Consequently, Korea is often cited when discussing the potential of a commercial acorn industry in California, yet little is actually known about acorn production in Korea. This is a report of preliminary results from a project conducting interviews across the Republic of Korea and mining government statistical archives. Statistics from 2003 to 2012 show net acorn consumption in South Korea of approximately 14 000 000 kg/year with domestic production declining to approximately 400 000 kg/year as imports from China grew to make up 94 percent of consumption. Domestic production is entirely foraged by hand from the wild, primarily by older women. Processing of acorns consists of soaking, drying, shelling, leaching, and milling, and can take place at the family, community, or factory scale. Ultimate consumption takes the form of a variety of human foodstuffs, chiefly acorn tofu, but also dried acorn pasta, fresh acorn pasta, and acorn pancakes.
Overstreet, Shawn; Choi, Seongmin; Park, Chan-Ryul; Lee, Dowon; Gradziel, Thomas. 2015. Acorn production and utilization in the Republic of Korea. In: Standiford, Richard B.; Purcell, Kathryn L., tech. cords. Proceedings of the seventh California oak symposium: managing oak woodlands in a dynamic world. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-251. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station: 265-271.