This weekend, we camped out on our land and spent some of the time making a Choctaw mortar. Wooden mortars were used to grind corn into flour, meal and grits, to pulverize hickory nuts and acorns, to knead dough, and a number of other essential functions.
In the 1800s, the Choctaw mortar was made by burning a deep depression into the end of the log in order to hold the food to be pulverized. This hole was created by setting hot coals on the log and blowing on them with a hollow piece of rivercane to create a blast furnace effect in order to burn away the desired wood. This method is genius. What would take weeks with stone tools can be done in a couple of evenings. There are tricks to this technique to keep the wood from cracking. For more information please see this article: https://www.choctawnation.com/sites/default/files/%5B/Biskinik_July_2016_Revised.pdf. More details will be provided in the upcoming Choctaw foods book.