The Horno – Part 1

One thing you’ll learn about Adobe is that it has a big tie to the kitchen.  It’s a recipe-driven technology and uses a lot of kitchen-sized implements and tools.  It also has that air of secrecy associated with cooks.  Some builders have always guarded their alleged secret recipes.  I say alleged, because after about 1970, most of the ‘recipes’ were being published in how-to books.  But today, a new brand of green builders do jealously guard their sauces, even if the general ingredients are known.  W really see this with builders who are trying out friendly chemical additives, especially those related to green building.  But when it comes to the horno, less is more.  You really don’t need anything that outgasses or could negatively affect the bread of dishes you will be preparing in it.  In fact, to be sure, you are likely to make your own adobe blocks and prepare you own mud mortars when building your horno.

The adobe horno (pronounced “or-no”) was  introduced to New Mexico back in the mid-1500s by the Spanish explorers and colonists.  Evidence of them has been found at Coronado’s first large encampment at Bernallilo, north of Albuquerque.  I will have further details about their history in a coming article in Adobe Builder, but for reason that are diverse, the horno traditions today is largely maintained by the Pueblos or Native American tribes located along the Rio Grande Valley in New Mexico (and also at Acoma and Zuñi Pueblos in NM and Hopi Pueblo in AZ).  For example at Isleta Pueblo, just south of Albuquerque, over 30 families are horno bakers.  If you know the places and times, you can pull up to a bread stand, and drive away with a tasty loaf ($3 to $3.50), still warm from the adobe oven.  Some bakers bake every day, and then take their product directly to a roadside stand location and to some store outlets.  If you’re in the area, call Tim or Jenn Lente at Isleta Pueblo (505-450-8756) to discuss their oven bread, pies, sweet breat and Dough-2-go services for special occasions.

Next week, more about the horno…

1 thought on “The Horno – Part 1

  1. Hello Joe. How are things. Your school is excellent. We really enjoyed it. (ross gilliland and I were at your school in 2010 I think it was. We were the two guys that went back to your place,and you fired up your stove for us (hope we didn’t heat you out of your house for a few days)
    I plan to build this year. Would like to visit your school again, for plaster application. Whenever that is. Would also like to discuss some points on my house plans with you if possible. We still have three feet of snow here! Take care. Eldon

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