Acorn Production and Utilization in the Republic of 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.

Although once widely used throughout the northern hemisphere, the Korean peninsula is one of the few remaining regions where acorns are still harvested in large quantities on a regular basis for human consumption (Bainbridge 1986). Traditionally, oak groves served as a backup source of carbohydrates for rural villages in years when the rice harvest was poor (Lee and others 2007). Acorns continue to this day to play a role in Korean cuisine, with certain towns being known for their production of acorn specialties (Lee 2013), but little else is known in the West about the Korean acorn industry. This research project aims to document traditional production and utilization practices as well as the current state of affairs of acorn production and use in the Republic of Korea.

Read the full article:

Seasoned acorn jelly (Dotorimuk: 도토리묵)