13

Based on some research, it seems the leaves contain tannins and so I imagine some number of rounds of boiling are required to extract those/reduce them to an acceptable level.

But the texture of oak leaves isn't ideal for eating based on what I remember as a kid. So I'm curious how to deal with that issue. Some type of fermentation seems necessary to break down the leaf compounds into softer/more edible compounds, and maybe even just pickling with vinegar might help?

I was curious if anyone has tried this before and had success rendering oak leaves edible.

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  • 25
    Is there any particular reason you want to do this, or a goal you are trying to achieve?
    – dbmag9
    Jan 28 at 19:56
  • 2
    @dbmag9 I guess more concretely I was looking for alternatives to grape leaves and so exploring the space of leaves seemed interesting Jan 28 at 20:02
  • 17
    Fig leaves are an excellent alternative to grape leaves, as are maple leaves.
    – FuzzyChef
    Jan 28 at 20:03
  • 23
    Simple. Feed the oak leaves to tent caterpillars, then feed the caterpillars to chickadees, then eat the chickadees.
    – Richard
    Jan 29 at 8:45
  • 17
    Sounds like XY Problem, leaves are apparently toxic and unpleasant. A much better question would be "What are good alternatives to grape leaves?" Jan 30 at 23:05

3 Answers 3

43

I cannot find any internet source that recommends eating oak leaves, however treated. The level of tannins in oak leaves isn't just bad-tasting; it's sufficiently strong to cause kidney or liver failure. This is probably why there are extensive records of Native Americans tribes eating acorns but none of them eating oak leaves.

It's dubious that any amount of soaking of oak leaves could remove sufficient tannins to render them safe. Some recipes for Oak Leaf Wine involve soaking them for 5 days. If that actually leached the majority of the tannins, the wine would be toxic, and there's no evidence that it is.

So my overall answer is: you cannot eat them, use something else instead.

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  • 6
    If you wanna make some kind of use of the leaves, though, Oak Leaf Wine seems to be where it's at.
    – FuzzyChef
    Jan 28 at 20:02
  • 16
    I make wine, have oaks, and have eaten the acorns. Even I'm not tempted by oak leaf wine
    – Chris H
    Jan 28 at 20:39
  • 4
    I'm not either, but I'm not the OP.
    – FuzzyChef
    Jan 28 at 22:23
43
  1. Take the oak leaves.
  2. Feed to a goat. (mix in some other feedstuffs: hay or grass).
  3. Eat the goat (or drink its milk)

Goats are browsers, and have a gut, kidneys and liver that can deal with oak leaves, in fact a moderate amount of leaves can avoid diarrhoea in goats. Using animals to process inedible vegetation, like leaves or grasses, to edible meat, milk and eggs is one of the foundations of farming.

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  • 1
    I like the way you think!
    – FuzzyChef
    Jan 29 at 20:05
  • 2
    ... and if you can't keep goats, compost the leaves and use as a growing medium. Some forms of cabbage will provide suitable leaves to replace vine leaves
    – Chris H
    Jan 31 at 9:51
10

A good indicator of whether there is a way to make something edible is whether it was recorded as a famine food. (Wikipedia) There are records of people eating dried lichen, tree bark, books, and machine oil in these horrible times. I can't see anything for oak leaves. Probably not possible to eat it.

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