Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Grinding Acorns

Archaeologists roughly date the Archaic Period, in North America,  around 5000 to 1000 BC.  Big game hunters and game of the Clovis, Folsom, and Plano had disappeared - mammoth, ancient bison, and giant ground sloths.  New techniques and tools for hunting smaller game, such as deer, antelope, fish, and fowl appeared.  The people began to develop traits of the foraging tradition - they were no longer just hunters, but not yet farmers.  The presense of mortars and grinding stones meant that plant seeds and nuts were being utilized, probably as well as roots and berries.  Pictured is grinding acorn meats.  A few white oaks have acorns sweet enough to be eaten raw, but most are extremely bitter due to a chemical called tannin.  Tannin is water soluable and can be removed by boiling the meats in several changes of water - until the brownish coloring no longer appears.  Native Americans would also put the crushed meats in porous bags in moving streams, to leech out the tannin.  The Pawnee called acorns from the bur oak, Patki - natawawi, meaning "acorn bearing."  Often the acorns would be used in combination with corn meal to make it more palatable.  They did not use seasonings, so to make the traditional gruel or mush, acorn meal was simply mixed with water.

1 comment:

Thinc Design said...

Hi Mark-- I work for an exhibit design firm. We are interested in using the picture on this blog post on a graphic panel in a new museum. The museum is called the Discovery Park of America and is being built in Union City, TN. I would really appreciate it if you could e-mail me so that I can provide you with more information about this project and how your image will be used. My e-mail is emilyh {at] thincdesign dot com.