Processing Manoomin

Project: Traditional Food

Manoomin, wild rice in Ojibwe, is a traditional staple in the Anishinaabe diet. Growing on the shores of lakes in Manitoba and Ontario, it is an important food for both cultural identity, and health. Manoomin processing has been experienced at many of our programs, including the recent 2016 Youth Gathering.

Harvesting manoomin is a small feat in itself but the hard work starts once you are back on dry land.

The first step in processing manoomin is to spread the manoomin on tarps outside to dry it. This also lets all the spiders that were harvested with the manoomin to escape.

Youth use moccasins to stomp on manoomin at the 2016 Youth Gathering

Youth use moccasins to dance on the manoomin at the 2016 Youth Gathering

The next step is to parch the manoomin which is done over a fire using poplar wood which adds to the flavouring of the rice. You will need a very large pot and a paddle or long stick to stir it. Continuous stirring of the rice is critical to prevent the manoomin from burning. The first sign that the rice is done is the smell of toasted manoomin; which is followed by a crackling of the manoomin. Take the pot of immediately and continue to stir the manoomin so it doesn’t burn.

Once the manoomin has cooled off, place it in a shallow hole and dance on. The dancing movement separates the manoomin from the husk, preparing it to be winnowed. Winnowing is done by placing some of the danced on manoomin in trays and gently tossing it. A winder day is a benefit as the wind will blow away the empty husks.

The next step is to sort through the winnowed manoomin and separate the ready to be cooked manoomin and the manoomin that needs to be processed more.

Final step: cook it and eat it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *