Gathering Wild Foods:Pine Tree Seeds

Blog Entry Gathering Wild Foods:Pine Tree Seeds by Ann for everyone

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Roasted Pinon Pine Nuts

HOME ROASTING INSTRUCTIONS
Roasting time depends on how much moisture is in the nut. Pine nut roasting is an ART, not a science. Hard shell nuts are roasted at higher temperatures (350- 375) 10 -15 minutes. Your soft shell nuts should be roasted at 325 350 on a cookie sheet.. It will take 45- 65 minutes depending on the nut size and mositure content. We soak nuts in salt water, then roast, so my roasts take a bit longer. Stir every 10 minutes after 10 minutes. Start testing at about 30 minutes into your roast. Follow pictured guide for doneness. Again, roasting is an art, not a science!!

When harvest began, the men pulled cones from the trees using tools made from large willow branches equipped with a sturdy V-shaped hook at the end. Women and children piled the cones in burden baskets (usually large conical wicker baskets carried on one’s back with a cordage band across the forehead). At this point, the cones were just at the point of opening and were usually full of pine pitch.

In camps surrounding the forest harvesting grounds, the pine cones were processed. This began by roasting the pine cones around hot coals, turning them often, to cause them to open up. Then, the cones could be beaten lightly to cause the nuts to fall out. When a supply of nuts was available, these required further processing since the nuts were covered by a soft brown shell. Cracking this shell would be difficult and would injure the fruit inside The nuts were processed by placing them on a basketry tray with hot coals from the fire. Once introduced together, the whole mass was kept in constant motion, throwing them up and swirling the tray, until the shells were roasted to a hard, crisp dark brown. The coals were removed at this point and the nuts were poured onto a grinding stone where they were lightly pounded with a mano until all of the shells had cracked and falled free of the inner fruit.

Cracked pinenuts are yellow-orange, translucent and soft. They can be eaten at this point and are delicious. Far more pine nuts were harvested than could be eaten raw so they needed to be processed further. At this point, the nuts were returned to a winnowing tray and thrown repeatedly into the air to allow the cracked shells to be carried off by the wind. When the shells were all gone, hot coals were returned to the tray and the roasting process was repeated until the nuts were dry and hard, somewhat darker in color.

At this point, the nuts could be stored in large basketry storage containers for later use. Dried nuts could still be eaten without further processing but the usual procedure was to make a pine-nut flour by grinding them. They were returned to the grinding stone and the mano was used to pound them lightly until they were well fragmented. Grinding was achieved with small amounts quickly so that the fine flour could be pushed off the metate forward into a bowl or onto a tray. A soap-root brush light be used to move the pine-nut flour on the tray. When enough flour was available, it could be warmed in water to make a thick paste; then the paste could be reduced, by dilution, to make whatever consistency was desired. While pine-nut mush may not sound especially appealing, addition of berries, various leafy vegetables, and/or ground meat or fish made it a feast.

Posted on: 11th of November 2008

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Harvesting Southern California’s Plants

Staples include nuts, such as the pinyon and acorn, seeds, such as buckwheat and chia, flowers, buds, berries, such as the wild grape, manzanita and blackberry, greens, such as amaranth and redmaid, cactus pads, fruit, such as yucca and palm, roots, and bulbs.

Many wild plant foods required lengthy preparation before being consumed. Some, such as the acorn and elderberry are actually harmful to humans in their raw form. Preparation techniques removed or neutralized harmful ingredients. Others, such as agave, offer little human nutritional value until cooked.

Food preparation techniques include leaching, drying, grinding, pounding, boiling, parboiling, roasting, flailing, singing (to remove cactus spines), and infusion.

protected are the native crops from a premature and hasty harvest which might damage the plants and reduce their future productivity.

A plant is never stripped of all its seeds or flowers, and when gathering plants from a particular area, some were always left behind to repropagate.

Always thank the plants for offering themselves as food.

The annual plant food cycle begins in February when the first agave is ready for harvest. Later in the spring, buds and greens appeared in quantity, providing much-needed vitamins after winter’s scarcity.

By June or July, mesquite is beginning to ripen. Roots are harvested at this time, and fruits of various sorts become available. In August and September, grass seeds are ripe for harvesting; dates and pinyon cones are gathered. October and November is acorn season, when large groups of people gatherer in the oak groves.

In December and January, when plant foods are scarce, the people rely on stored food and on the skill of hunters.

Comment by Ann LRD

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