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What did the Indians do with acorns? - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community



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What did the Indians do with acorns?

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  • What did the Indians do with acorns?

    As we start to rake the oak leaves and clean up the acorns I wonder what the Indians would have done with all these beautiful acorns. In my 51 years of being a Michigander I have never heard of anyone having any use for red oak acorns other than using on a wreath for decoration, gathering for the squirrels and deer for winter feeding, or using for slingshot ammo... They do make great slingshot ammo! Any ideas? Jim

  • #2
    Re: What did the Indians do with acorns?

    Hi, Mr.?????
    I believe, whistles !


    • #3
      Re: What did the Indians do with acorns?

      We had a huge red oak in the front yard of the house I grew up in. I used to use a rake to make a "house" in the leaves- clearing rooms, making door openings, etc. Lots of fun. I also distinctly remember trying to eat an acorn once. Only once. I was speculating that it would be like the chestnut my mom had given me. NOT. It was horribly bitter, with a capital B.

      Either take up wreath making or let the deer eat them. I can still feel the nasty taste in my mouth...



      • #4
        Re: What did the Indians do with acorns?

        Natives ate them, though maybe not the reds which are the most bitter.

        Lots of info here: Cooking With Acorns

        Lots of wild animals - deer, mice, bears - eat them too.

        As for domestic animals, hogs love acorns and there's apparently no better pork that that from one of the old heritage breeds of swine that are allowed to forage where the acorns drop from the trees ... which is just what our forefathers used to do with their swine herds. (I will stop here, before I get wound up on the subject of agriculture today ).


        • #5
          Re: What did the Indians do with acorns?

          do you suppose they had a way to make them less bitter? My experience with the red acorn quelled any impulse to try the ones from the white oak tree we had in back...



          • #6
            Re: What did the Indians do with acorns?

            Elizabeth, The usual steps are to dry the acorn "meat", then grind, then soak in hot water changing the water until the tanin is sufficiently gone. We did this way back when I was in Boy Scouts. And the memory was "alot of work for little in the way of reward". But if I was sufficiently hungry I think I could make a second attempt. There are lots of websites that discribe the process which is still done my a surprising number of Native Americans. Check out some of the "First People" type sites on Google.

            Alot of the "it tastes bad" comes from what we are brought up eating. However, when I lived in Alaska (I spent two winters within a stones throw of the Artic Circle and one in Fairbanks) I was very interested in Eskimos and living in the north and I remember reading an account of a bunch of early anthropologists who lived among them recording their daily life. In the high latitudes it was common to rot meat to break down the proteins so that they could be digested. Living on the ice didn't make cooking a viable alternative as wood was scarce or unavailable. I don't think the natives knew what they were doing on the biological/chemical level; it was the way things were done and had been done since the beginning. Well one of the anthropologists thought he could eat the rotted flesh and did so for the experience. He died as a result and the discription was he had a very painful death. Literally one mans food was another's poison. So you cannot guarantee "If he can eat it so can I."

            As for the fact that animals taste something different than we do... Deer will do lots to get in our orchard and eat our apple trees (leaves, young branches, bark and of course apples) I tried eating an apple leaf once. Extremely bitter to my tastes, yet both the deer and I like the apples.



            • #7
              Re: What did the Indians do with acorns?

              my sister collects the big open acorn . and old bits of candles put candles into pot puts pot on top of her wood stove to melt . then dips the acorn in a couple of times . she uses them as fire lighters wit a bit of paper .. o yes she is not an Indian SORRY but think she dated one once ..now that i think of it.. its them spikey things we call acorn aswell .
              Last edited by jonlovepizza; 05-15-2011, 01:14 PM. Reason: not a clue


              • #8
                Re: What did the Indians do with acorns?

                I have had white oak acorns but I did not find them anything to get excited about. My naturalist friends have always avoided red oak acorns so...I suspect they are at best "difficult" to process to reasonable edibility.

                NOTE: There is a difference between edible and worth eating. When a mushroom is described as "edible" that simply means it won't make you sick. Many "edible" mushrooms have the fine flavor of pecan shells (bitter as hell). I suspect acorns fall in the same edible category.