Doug Simons – How to Winnow Grains by Hand

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Great Big Ideas & Takeaways:

  • How to use the wind to clean seeds and grains
  • Discover what seeds you can winnow and which ones you can’t
  • Learn the steps to the seed cleaning dance
  • How to use your bare feet to clean grains


About The Speaker:

Doug Simons began learning about native plants from his mother. His awareness, knowledge, and connection to the plant world has only grown stronger through his life. His learning and practicing of medicine has taken place in the Western U.S., Mexico, and Central and South America. Through these travels he has learned from many indigenous cultures, some of which include the Tarahumara, the Tohono O’Odham, and the Navajo. Doug has spent more than 20 years living very primitively—almost wild—in the Sonoran Desert and other wilderness areas. Recently, Doug has been inspired to come out of the wilderness and share this living knowledge. Doug is the wisdom in the video series TREATING INFECTIONS WITHOUT ANTIBIOTICS, which teaches natural, simple, and amazingly effective techniques for taking care of wounds, snake bites, sprains, spider bites, and much more.

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QUESTION: What did you think about this presentation?


  1. Nancy S

    I had heard that oat were difficult so I bought hulless oats to try this year. Thanks for showing how to do small amounts without machines.

  2. Denise

    Excellent! Took the mystery out of winnowing.

  3. Sharon Porter

    Glad you both learned some useful tips, Nancy and Denise!

  4. Ben

    wow And yet another skill I never knew I needed! LOL!

  5. Molly

    Very cool. I remember reading about them flailing and winnowing wheat in “Farmer Boy” by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and thinking their arms must get tired really fast. Seems like this is a more balanced way to do it, with the work spread out more over the body.

    Thank you for sharing this with us, Mr. Simons!

  6. Danny

    Yet so simple, not knowing how to winnow has prevented us from growing our own wheat, not any more, Thanks Doug!

    1. Sue Ford

      I just harvested kale, cilantro and spinach seed and have big piles of brown stems with all the seeds just waiting for it to dry so I can separate the seed. This presentation was perfect timing! Thank you Doug!

      1. Marjory Wildcraft

        so glad you liked this.

  7. william

    do you have to do anything else to wheat after doing this or do you have to break the outer sheel off

  8. Donna Vanderloo

    Very useful presentation for an old YUP who ran for the hills 2 winters ago, and has to discover the wisdom of our forefathers again!
    Especially I liked to hear “beans are easy to clean”. Last year I harvested a big patch of beans, but it took me so many boring evenings at the kitchen table to clean them. Right then I decided never to grow them anymore!
    But now I changed my mind! The soil will also be grateful for the new generation of nitrogen catchers. Thank you very much

    1. Marjory Wildcraft

      Hi Donna,

      Carole Deppe uses a tractor or ligh car to drive over her pile of bens that need clenaing.

      I happended to visit the tarahumara while they are harvesting beans and we beat the big pile with a long pole to break them loose.

      I like Doug’s mehtod of “dancing” much better!

  9. Brigitte

    Absolutely loved this video. So helps us to know how to winnow without equipment or fear of growing something we would not know how to process or use. Thank you SO much with sharing your knowledge and coming to share with us all. Blessings to you.

  10. Pw


  11. Cindy

    Wow, I had no idea how simple this would be. Thank you.

  12. Barbara

    Totally fascinating….I have never seen this before….thank you so much Doug! You showed me just how EASY it can be! I really appreciated it all! Hugs and love and Blessings, Aho, Barbara xxxxx

  13. Christina

    I love these types of simple, practical, critical demonstrations. Teaching us simple ways, the old ways.

  14. Jacqueline Freeman

    Everything you said was helpful. We’ve tried beans, wheat and amaranth on our own and it was HARD, inefficient and we decided it wasn’t worth the effort. Ah-ha! We weren’t doing it right! This is all easy to do. Can’t wait to try it again.

    1. Marjory Wildcraft

      You are most welcome Jacqueline.

      SO glad to see you online!

  15. Steven

    Is that red root pig weed?

  16. Vegan 4 a healthy Earth

    I use a series of screens, colanders, and strainers.

    I don’t use wind. Gravity seems enough.

    With screens, colanders, and strainers, one can sit inside at a table and do it, or outside on a porch, then you can blow the chaff off, as it falls through the different screens.

    Putting the grain in water, before you want to eat it, so any fine chaff floats, pour that off, and the seeds should be very clean.

  17. Heather Nibley

    I’ve been storing the seed heads from last year’s first attempt at growing wheat because I haven’t know how to successfully separate them. Today I got my answer. Thank you Doug​!And thank you, Marjory!

    1. Marjory Wildcraft

      Heather, you are welcome. So glad you are getting more skills.

  18. Clay

    One of the most useful presentations of the series! Thank you so much for including this one! Now, off to gather some volunteer wheat!

  19. calle

    Hubs the former farm boy said we can’t do these grains as too hard to process.
    Will he believe me? Hummmmm!

  20. Sandy

    Thanks, Doug! I am experimenting with growing a variety of grain,too, and amaranth is such a tiny seed that I was wondering how to handle it. Watching your demonstration took me on a a little journey to some wonderful places. That kind of task in which we involve the whole body in repetitive movement back to front, side to side, is very energizing and integrating for the mind and body, increases memory and coordination, moves the mind into a more creative and positive state. Traditional non-electric farming is generally characterized by that kind of activity, even if the task is repetitive, it happens in a sequence that can include walking, bending, stretching, visually and auditorily tracking. Many cultures teach their children work songs that reference specific farming and harvesting tasks I grew up in Hawai’i, where descendants of immigrants from Japan and Okinawa gather on New Year’s Eve to celebrate their culture with traditional tasks and foods, including the pounding of previously threshed and dried sweet mochi rice into sticky cakes that are then cooked into traditional soup or sweet treats. Families take turns with each other in teams that position themselves around a large wooden or stone mortar. A log that has been crafted into big pestle with a handle is raised up by one member of the team and thrown down forcefully into the mortar filled with hot steamed rice. Sometimes there are two pestles alternating. While the pestle is being lifted, two or more team members quickly reach a dampened hand into the mortar and turn the hot rice mass to expose uncrushed kernels. Elders and kids sing songs that help the team maintain a steady rhythm. There is a lot of laughter and good natured ribbing. Teams alternate, so there is a little bit of competitiveness and periodic rest and refreshment breaks. The ladies cook traditional foods all day. There is a feast that night or the next, depending on how much rice needs to be pounded. Sweet mochi treats are passed around to snack on. the feasting goes on all night and on New Year’s morning a special soup made with clam broth, unsweetened bits of mochi and cleansing herbs is served. There are variants to the celebration, but the rice harvest symbolizes the health and well-being of the clan for the next year. I’m going to guess that in any village where completion of the harvest takes many hands, there are songs and special dishes involved, and that every member has a role and participates in some kind of celebration. As we study the old ways, surely we will re-discover the joy that holds tradition together.

    1. Marjory Wildcraft

      wow, thank you so much writing.
      Yes, I definetly hunger for more of that kind of community harvest.

  21. Clairemarie Levine

    Fantastic! This is immensely helpful. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us all.

  22. Kelly

    Another great presentation by Doug! I really appreciate his work. I still have a tooth that was decaying – it is on the mend thanks to what I learned from his dental video. 👍

    I have one comment about all the videos, aimed at whoever does the editing – I love the Grow Network intro & outro theme music, great little clip. BUT – the way the sound is mixed, it always comes out MUCH louder than the rest of the video. I usually have headphones in and my ears get blasted. Any way to adjust that next year so the music is about the same level as the rest of the video? Other than that – this has been a fantastic summit with an amazing amount of great info! Thanks Marjory and Team!

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