Although there are many types of oak trees in New Mexico, the easily edible type is found between 3,000 to 8,000 feet in the foothills and canyons. These species are relatively sweet and should not have to be leached.

To Prepare the Acorn:

The first step is to cull the acorns. Throw away the ones with worm holes and the ones which float to the top in water. Then crack the acorns with a cylinder stone, between rocks,or on a metate. If an acorn is very bitter, it must first be leached of the tannin. The easiest way to do this is to boil in water over and over again until the water is clear. The acorn may then be roasted, dried, and ground into a meal used for thickening stews. Sweet acorns may also be eaten raw or roasted and then eaten. Mesquite Beans at some times and in some areas, mesquite beans were an even more important food staple than corn. The beans are harvested for drying when they are fully ripe: straw yellow, possibly splashed with red streaks, and brittle. The beans are then dried whole. While the better quality beans are stored whole, the lesser quality beans are ground into meal, sprinkled with water, and formed into hard cakes before storing. One recipe I read tates that beans must be redried after a first grinding, then ground again. Mesquite beans may also be used when green for making broth or as a drink. Piñon Nuts If you can say one thing about the piñon nut, it might be that it’s the messiest thing in the world to harvest. A few years ago, I decided to harvest my own nuts, and probably ended up with about a cup before giving up. I had the dark sticky sap all over me and stuck to everything I touched for a week. I’ve not once complained about the price of those wonderful piney nuts since. (And would in fact, pay three times the amount if I could afford it.)I have since discovered that piñon cones should be roasted before trying to shell them, then while still warm, they may be placed between two pieces of cloth and rolled vigorously with a cyclinder stone. To help preserve them, piñons should be roasted. They may be eaten raw or roasted, dried, and ground into a meal. They also may be roasted then ground to form a nut butter. Piñons are usually smaller and bushier-shaped than other pine trees and are found in stands or scattered among junipers at elevations of 4,000 to 7,500 feet. The nuts are high in protein and fat, and are also very high in calories.Sunflower Seeds Supposedly, sunflowers were the first domesticated plant in the southwest, arriving prior to the introductions of beans, corn, and squash. They are very high in protein and contain about 50% oil which can be extracted by boiling. In the fall, the seeds are dried, then beaten with sticks to release the seeds. They are then winnowed (the chaff is separated from the seed by means of fanning or tossing), parched, and ground on the metate. Another method of preparation is to roast the whole seeds on coals for a few seconds before shelling, then to grind them into a nut butter.