Traditional and Modern Methods of Acorn Preparation

Clockwise starting from the lower left: ripe bay fruits; shelled hulls of bay nut; unroasted, shelled bay nuts; bay leaves; roasted bay nuts; bay nut powder; drink made by steeping bay nut powder in hot water. Photo: Emily Moskal


Traditional and Modern Methods of Acorn Preparation
Bay Nature, December 2013

If you had walked into a village in the Bay Area 200 years ago, the air would have been full of the clangs and rattles of popping acorns against mortars — “dum, dum, pop” — as women gathered to prepare acorn flour.

But while acorns still drop in abundance in October and November, the sound of mortars, and the use of acorns in everyday recipes, has faded. It doesn’t have to be that way, says Olompali State Historic Park interpreter Jill Miller, who teaches a class at the park on using modern kitchenware to make traditional Native Californian comfort foods. And the oven, hammer, and food processor don’t just replace the mortars—they’re a way to connect to our modern-day landscape by understanding the sometimes complex process food takes to get to our plates.

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