American Indian desserts are a rage in today’s times. You will find a lot of different dessert recipes that can blow your mind away. As Native Americans during the old ages were strict and devout worshippers of the sun and moon, the type of desserts you will taste in today’s times will want you to question history itself.
A Native American dessert recipe that the Native Americans always used to cook with is acorns, which is still a part of the majority of the North American dishes and cuisines.
Today, Native Americans are a significant portion of America. While their food recipes are mostly taste of culture and heritage, their traditional Native American desserts definitely taste very modern and something that you would eat on a regular basis.
These desserts are rarely found anywhere else. The only places where you would get them is at a proper Native American food outlet. These desserts are mostly served as Native American Thanksgiving desserts.
The acorn is one of the most primary products of the most traditional Portuguese agroforestry system known as the montado. It is characterized by sparse but evergreen vegetation and used mainly for pastoral or agricultural production. The main tree species that produces the acorn are oak trees, especially the cork oak. Once ground and toasted, the acorn can be used for polenta or bread, in combination with corn flour and wheat.
The acorn bread and flour are something that you cannot shop for in the market. So, you will be on your own, and that is the fun part of it. This is a very easy Native American dessert recipe.
History of how Native Americans made use of acorns
Acorns were the traditional food items for the Native Americans, especially the indigenous peoples of California, where different species of oaks overlapped.
This increased the reliability of the resources.
The Californian Indians were not farmers at first; they were gatherers and hunters for most of the part. There was a ready supply of seaweed, native fruits, native vegetables, foul, rabbits, fish and deer. Even so, it was said that acorns were a very important dietary part of the Native Californians.
This was because acorns were found everywhere and very easy to gather. They even lasted for a very long time. Hence, Native Americans began storing acorns for as long as two years as insurance against poor production years.
Some people preferred the white acorns because they were sweet and could be eaten without leaching. You will see that the most common oaks in the San Francisco Bay are the Valley Oak, the California Live Oak, the Black Oak, and the Tan Oak.
Most types of oak trees have been endangered due to deforestation and turning land into housing developments or pasture lands. The Live oak is the least threatened because it is a deciduous tree and remains healthy-looking and green all year long.
Acorns were used in the Californian region to make bread, porridge, and soup. There were 16 species of oak trees that provided the acorns. Since the nutritional value of acorns is very high, Native American people did not see the use of developing farming and agriculture. In fact, the reason that the Native Americans in California developed an immunity to most diseases was that acorns provided ample nutrition to the human body.
Different tribes had their own recipes and methods of integrating and cooking acorn for their meals. Most of the Pomo tribe members prefer the Tan Oak because they feel the acorn from this tree has more flavor. On the other hand, most of the MiWuks prefer the Black Oak because it takes lesser time to leach and gets rid of the tannin in the acorns.
Be wary of acorns that fall off before the season
Acorns are gathered in the fall after they become ripe. You might have noticed occasionally acorns without the ‘little hats’ lying on the ground early in the season. These fallen acorns usually have a bug inside of them. When a worm flips itself inside the acorn, the acorn gets heavier and all the activities cause the acorn to break free from the tree. When the acorn is ripe, they will fall off the tree without any external influence.
If you see any holes in the acorns, you should throw it away immediately. Some store the ripe acorns first, dry them out and sell them later. Others first shell them out, then dry them, and then store them in a dry place.
Acorn bread: Nutritional value
The per-serving nutritional value of the acorn bread is as follows:
- Calories: 501
- Protein: 7.5g
- Total Carbohydrates: 55g
- Total Fat: 30g (Saturated Fat 2.9g)
- Iron: 7%
- Calcium: 4%
- Vitamin C: 0%
- Vitamin A: 1%
Why do we need acorns for the flour?
Most of us must have heard that acorns are poisonous, which is absolutely true if you have improperly processed acorns or unprocessed and raw ones. Because they contain a very high level of tannins, they can make you very sick.
Tannins is a compound that is found in several consumed items like tea and wine, but its overall composition is very minute. As long as the acorn has been processed, they are actually very good for the health. They have carbohydrates for instant energy, proteins, and high-fat content.
The second reason is that acorns are found in plentiful.
One healthy oak tree is capable of producing about 1,000 lbs of acorn in a single year. Even if you remove the moisture and the shells, there will be a significant amount of consumable calories that will be left for processing and consuming.
Lastly, acorns are some of the most common types of nuts you will see. They are practically found anywhere in the northern hemisphere. Some acorns are much better than others for consumption and you will definitely find an oak tree that is full of it at any time of the year, especially the fall.
How do you grind acorns into flour?
This is a very important aspect of making any ingredient using acorns. Properly ground acorns can work wonders for your dish. If not done properly, your dish could end up as a disaster. Here is how you grind and convert your acorns into flour:
- Gather the nuts in one place. Remove the caps from each one of them and place them in the freezer for the night. This will keep them fresh and also make them easier to crack open.
- Once you remove them from the freezer, toss them in water so that they do not turn brown. In the water, continue the peeling process. Once done, pour the water and the acorns into a blender and blend them for some minutes.
- Transfer the solution into a large container and freeze it over the night. Once the paste settles down, you can pour off the excess water. Add more fresh water and stir the paste. Place it in your fridge and let it sit for a day more. By doing this, you are leaching out the bitterness of the acorns.
- After the final soaking, pour off the water and place the paste onto a cheesecloth or clean towel to absorb as much water as it can. In order to dry the paste completely, spread the paste over a baking sheet and place it in the oven with the lowest setting. As the drying process goes on, stir the paste to speed up.
- Alternatively, you can also boil the water that contains the acorns. You will see that the water will turn into brownish-black. Change the water every 20 minutes. Heating the acorns in water will also get rid of the tannins. Once you have successfully got rid of the tannins, the acorns will taste like a sweet pasta – a bit bland but not bitter.
- Once the paste is dried, it will look a bit clumpy. With the help of a grinder, grind the acorns into flour. Alternatively, you can also make use of a blender or food processor. While you might get a fine flour, you will still see some larger pieces.
- Sift the flour with a fine mesh sieve so that the larger clumps are separated. Alternatively, you can make use of a mortar and pestle to grind these large pieces. If you don’t, then you can grind the larger clumps again in your grinder.
- Repeat the sifting process and again separate the larger clumps. Grind them again and keep repeating the cycle till you end up with a plate of finely-grinded acorn flour.
Acorn Bread ingredients
- 320 ml of boiling water
- Three tablespoons of olive oil
- 7g of active dry yeast
- 10g of salt
- 250g of white flour or all-purpose flour
- 250g of acorn flour finely ground and leached
Native American dessert recipe: How to make acorn bread?
Here is how you make an acorn bread from scratch:
- Start by mixing the white flours and the acorn flours in a large bowl. Add some salt and yeast on each side and do not let them mix together for some time.
- Add the olive oil in the middle and mix everything up. Smoothen all the dry ingredients together and knead it till it is smooth and does not stick to the bowl.
- Transfer the dough into a greased bowl with olive oil and cover it with the help of a cling film. Leave the bowl for at least two hours at room temperature and wait till the dough swells up in size.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and press to release the air inside it.
- Shape the dough according to your wish and leave it in a plastic bag at room temperature for another two hours.
- In the meantime, heat your oven to 220°C and put a water-filled tray at the bottom. Put the bread in the oven for 30 minutes.
- Once the cooking in the oven is done, get your bread out and leave it to cool down.
Other types of dishes that you can make with acorns
There are a lot of dishes that make use of acorns. Some include:
- Acorn griddle cakes
- Apache acorn cakes
- Manataka acorn bread
Alternatively, acorns are used to make coffee, liqueurs, sweets, and soups in the Alentejan tradition as well.
The above is just one of the best authentic Native American desserts that you will see anywhere in America. This acorn bread is one of the most scrumptious desserts that you might have ever tasted.
Additionally, it should also be noted that you will not find a Native American dessert recipe that is this easy to implicate and does not require you to shop a lot. You will just need your everyday ingredients to make this Native American dessert recipe. The cooking time is also not so much as most people would perceive.
Overall, Native American sweets are definitely some of the best and you must try them at least once in a lifetime.