Acorn Epicures

Acorn Epicures

Acorns were the staple food of the Maidu tribe of the Native Americans who lived here along the American River for centuries before the coming of overseas settlers.

Acorns were gathered in the fall and those that were not used right away were stored in woven granaries to be used throughout the year. (A replica of an acorn granary can be seen in the village area in front of the Effie Yeaw Nature Center.) Acorns were removed from a hole in the bottom of the granary as they were needed for food.

The acorns were cracked with stones, hulled, cleaned and pounded into flour with a stone pestle. Look for the grinding rock in the village area to see where the Maidu ground their acorns. With so many holes together the process of preparing acorns could be something of a social event.

The next step in preparing the acorns was leaching out the tannic acid.

The Maidu leached their ground acorns by using a carefully prepared hole in the earth lined with leaves or pine needles. The ground acorns were placed in the hole, covered with leaves and then rinsed over and over with water until the bitter taste was gone.

Today you might try putting your ground acorns in a sack and running water from a faucet through them.

Once the acorn flour is leached it can be eaten as a mush or soup or formed into patties and fried. The Maidu were able to prepare mush and soup in baskets that were woven so tightly that they could hold water. Hot rocks were dropped into the baskets and stirred into the mixture until it was cooked and ready to eat.

Today you can use your acorn flour in any recipe where you would use flour or corn meal. You may bake cakes, bread or muffins and enjoy the food that supported generations of Native Americans.

Acorns are very nutritious. The acorns from the Valley Oak are the largest and also the sweetest, requiring less leaching and preparation time than our other local oaks, the Live Oak and Blue Oak.

If you try gathering your own acorns and hull, grind and leach them to make flour, you will experience some of the tasks that the Maidu performed each day. These peaceful people, found a bountiful harvest of acorns, bulbs, seeds, fish, waterfowl and deer, here along the American River.