How Native Americans Processed Acorns

It’s acorn season!

Thanks to Pascal Baudar for the tip on this film. And check out our post on Pascal and his partner Mia Wasilevich’s tips for processing and using acorns.

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  1. Great film!

    It seems that the calories expended to eat acorns must have exceeded the calories obtained from the final product.

    A squirrel would make short work of getting into that hidey hole. The squirrels in my neighborhood get into houses!

    My Water Oaks have tiny, tiny acorns not huge ones like those. I wonder if that makes the process easier or more difficult. Of course, gathering them would be more difficult.

    Am I the only one who found the repetitious and ever-present music very annoying?

    • It might seem as if the calorie expenditure was greater, but they would have died out if it were! I’ve never seen a breakdown on the expenditure for this particular system, but most Native societies were getting about a ten or twenty to one ratio of calories harvested to calories input.

      Modern U.S. agriculture does a far worse job, operating at a huge energy deficit. The only reason we can eat is that we are trading oil calories for food calories…. Essentially using millions of years of stored solar energy in the form of Hydrocarbons, to feed ourselves for a couple hundred years until the oil runs out.

      I’m just hoping that we get good renewables and good methods of storing energy soon… or our agricultural system will completely break down.

  2. Very interesting!

    I seemed to remember an alternative – and much less appetizing – way of preparing acorns practiced by Native Americans and found the link on one of your Monday Linkages from last year. For what it is worth, it is at When I first read this, I thought there was some confusion between the words “urinate” and “marinate”, but it was not so!

    I was also interested to see the name “A.L.Kroeber” in the starting credits. This was Alfred L. Kroeber, a well-known anthropologist of the day and the father of the writer Ursula K. Le Guin.

    • Peter–I had completely forgotten about the urine technique. And I didn’t know about the connection to Ursula Le Guin! Thanks!

  3. I didn’t see the woman who demonstrated so beautifully credited.
    Very interesting method.
    Does anyone know if all acorns are edible after leaching?

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