Harvesting and Cooking

ToolsThe beautifully displayed traditional steaming pit offers a look into how the Secwepemc "steam cooked/‘qelst’em” in the earth using steam pits.

These steaming pits were "excavated/tsi’qem” into the earth approximately half a meter deep and about the same in diameter, inside the pit would be hot charcoal built up and upon that would be layers of wet vegetation, liken, bulbs, roots and spices.

The pit was built up in stages with the vegetation on the bottom and top layers and the bulbs, roots and spices towards the center in the middle of the layers.  A "re’nem/a pole” approximately 2 inches in diameter stands vertical inside the middle of the pit acting as a funnel with the vegetation surrounding it.  The final step is to carefully remove the pole and add a quart of water and then place mats over top quickly and carefully, cover mats with sand and/or earth until no more steam escapes.

The cooking times usually vary approximately from one hour up to three hours.