ash lye

Lilah D. Lindsey, 1933

blackjackAny wood may be used but the black jack wood when burned to ashes makes the strongest lye, the ashes are placed in a vessel with a perforated bottom, pour hot water over and let drain until all strength is exhausted. Makes good seasoning for sofkee.

James H. Hill, ca. 1936-40

They put strong ashes in an old can perforated with nail holes, poured water on [the ashes], and they called the liquid dripped from the ashes kvpe-cvfke.

Beulah Simms, 1970

Hokti's kvpe-cvfkeBlack jack wood (seca) – enough green wood to burn down to enough ashes to fill a half-gallon can with holes punched in the bottom. Place the can over another container so that the second container will catch the water that is strained through the ashes. A clean white cloth should be placed under the half-gallon can containing the ashes so that the water will be strained after passing through the ashes. Strain enough liquid to make at least one pint of kvpe-cvfke. The liquid should be the color of strong tea.

American Indian Recipes, 1970

Boil about two gallons of strong ashes which have been saved from cook stove. Black jack or Ash make best ashes to use.

Bertha Tilkens, 2004

The ash drippings are made from the ashes of wood fires built for heating or cooking. Ash from blackjack oak is the best type to use to make the lye. Ashes are collected from the fire bed and checked to make sure that there are no foreign objects that might give a different taste to the lye. Water is poured over the ashes, which are held in a clean cloth. The resulting liquid is collected in a clean container. If done properly, the liquid will be clear, with a dark brownish color.

Mary Harjo, 2010

Lye is a liquid that may Creek women use to cook sofke and cvtvhakv with. It is made from the ashes of blackjack wood, which is stored in a container to age by sprinkling water over it to make it stronger until you are ready to use it. Boiling hot water is then poured over the ashes and strained into a jar to keep for use.

Jimmy Deatherage, 2015

We use green post oak or blackjack. Burn it all up. Clean, no kind of chemicals. A match and a little bit of kindling. Once you get the ashes all burnt, I take a five-gallon bucket and put small nail holes in the bottom. Put in three to four gallons of ashes. Pour hot water in with the ashes, about three gallons. It’ll filter through. Liquid comes out most of the time kind of like an apple juice color. Sometimes like weak tea. I’ve seen it come out real dark, when you burn straight blackjack wood.

The Lyes We Told

“The Lyes We Told” by Mark Brown, in Edible Tulsa, October 28, 2015.

Other Sources

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