Where can I buy acorns?
May 10, 2009 8:48 AM   Subscribe

To make a quantity of black dye I need a couple of kilo's of oak acorns. In the UK I have, naturally enough, looked under oak trees but last years season was a non starter and the squirrels got up earlier than me. Google has failed me.
posted by Dr.Pill to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There are several varieties of oak; where I am in eastern Canada we have small "English Oaks" and "regular" ones (with much larger leaves and larger, rounder acorns). If you find a supplier from across the pond make sure you get the right sort of haycorns!
posted by fish tick at 9:32 AM on May 10, 2009

There's a website called forfarmers.com that has many listings of people selling acorns in bulk. It looks like you'll need to register in order to see the contact information for the sellers.

Also, it appears that acorns fall under the Common Agricultural Policy import regulations. As such, you will probably have to pay an import duty. Luckily, you may qualify for the following:
Small consignments of CAP goods sent to a private individual may be eligible for a flat charge of 3.5% ad valorem duty if such imports are:

* only occasional
* for the personal or family use of the person receiving the goods
* of a non-commercial nature and
* have a total value of less than £282.

The flat rate includes all CAP charges but not any VAT or excise duty which may apply: these are payable at import in addition to the flat rate charge.
For more information on CAP goods, see here.
posted by jedicus at 9:44 AM on May 10, 2009

I thought I remembered acorn flour being sold for cooking purposes as a substitute for wheat flour. But Googling for it the best I came up with was this Google Answers question, in which someone claims that in Germany there is a product called "Eichenmehl" that is somehow employed in smoking fish. The person asking for acorn flour at first thought this was referring to oak sawdust but later marked the answer with five stars.
posted by XMLicious at 9:52 AM on May 10, 2009

Post to the "wanted" section of Craigslist, or try freecycle.
posted by theora55 at 10:00 AM on May 10, 2009

You'll need to be careful to choose the right kind of acorns. The black color of the dye results from the interaction of the tannins in the acorns with an iron mordant. Don't try to use white oak acorns or acorn flour: the same low levels of tannin that make them good to eat make them inadequate for use as a dye. Red oak acorns are high in tannins and are inedible (unless the tannins are leached out by soaking in water); they will work better for dye, though they are not the best source you could find for a natural black dye.

The galls that grow on oak leaves or twigs are much better sources of dye tannin than acorns are. They are a traditional source of black ink. As a bonus, the galls are not attractive to squirrels. Better sources of natural black dyes are walnut hulls, or chips of logwood. In each case you will want to mordant with iron, which acts to turn all dyes a darker color.
posted by Ery at 10:24 AM on May 10, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Forget the acorns. Use black walnut hull with an iron mordant. If it's not black enough add some indigo.
posted by Lou Stuells at 1:37 PM on May 10, 2009

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