Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Pokeweed


 Share

Recommended Posts

My girlfriend was raised in the Northern Alabama city of Decatur. Like any good Southerner she remains rooted to her birthplace and while having since moved to Charlotte, her heart remains in the Yellowhammer state.

Many of her childhood memories revolve around the food she ate. One of her most distinctive memories was being sent by her mother to go behind their house to pick pokeweed for poke salad. Her mother would served it cooked with bacon and would sometimes add chopped eggs to it.

I like to think of myself as well versed in all manor of edible flora and fauna, both common and uncommon, however, until meeting my girlfriend I had never heard of pokeweed. From what little I have read about it there are various levels of toxicity asociated with it's root and leaves.

I have yet to try it although I am very interested to. I may have the opportunity soon as my girlfriend's gardner has found it growing behind her new house in Charlotte. The gardner views it as a weed and wants to rid the yard of it, I asked for a reprieve for some of the plants.

Does anyone have experience with pokeweed? How have you eaten it?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A good friend of mine from Longview, TX saw some poke weed growing in our yard once and told us about it. The comment that stands out most was something like, "That's poke weed, but it's poisonous unless you cook it right, and that's something only old, black, southern ladies know how to do."

Bryan C. Andregg

"Give us an old, black man singing the blues and some beer. I'll provide the BBQ."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A good friend of mine from Longview, TX saw some poke weed growing in our yard once and told us about it. The comment that stands out most was something like, "That's poke weed, but it's poisonous unless you cook it right, and that's something only old, black, southern ladies know how to do."

I would have to dispute your friend's comment. My girlfriend's mother is middle aged and as white as Bama cotton.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd never heard of poke before this spring, when one of our local farm stands was selling baby poke. He'd grown it in his basement, so it was a very pale green with a light purple stalk. I just steamed it and served it with a vinaigrette, like asparagus. Had no idea that there was anything toxic about it... Oops.

On the other hand, I didn't die, so there you go.

On the third hand, I don't even know that what I ate was the same thing; it didn't look like the photos of poke on line.

Edited by Andrew Fenton (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pokeweed's widely known to be troublesome, and I'm surprised that somebody would sell it at a farmers market. The younger plants may be less of an issue.

Pokeweed contains saponins (and it can be used as a soap substitute), so eating it without first leaching them out (by boiling in several changes of clean water) can rip up your gut and give you diarrhea.

Pokeweed also contains mitogens (something called pokeweed mitogen is used in vitro to stimulate cell division for certain sorts of laboratory testing), and may be either mutagenic or teratogenic, particularly with chronic exposure. It's one of the many plants from which chemotherapeutic agents have been prepared.

Can you pee in the ocean?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Justifiably made famous to some of us Northerners by that classic soul song

which ends with this memorable phrase

(sock a little poke salad to me,

you know I need me a mess of it)

Polk Salad Annie lyrics

I've always wondered what it tasted like. Just curious - am I correct in remembering that it can also have some sort of consciousness altering properties? I could swear I read something about that somewhwre.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i think my grandma calls this poke salat, not to be confused with poke "salad"

this is po folks stuff y'all

My Grandmonther did the same. It was alway poke salat. Her's grew in a fence row about 100 yds from her back door. We only picked young tender leaves. "Honey, go get me a mess of those poke salat greens"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

this is po folks stuff y'all

Mama was a workin on the chain gang

(a wretched, spiteful, straight razor totin' woman,

Lord have mercy, pick me a mess of it)

Her daddy was lazy and no count, claimed he had a bad back,

& All her brothers were fit for, was stealin watermelons out of my truck patch,

Looks like they weren't card-carrying members of the D.A.R. either .. nor the Junior League ... :rolleyes:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Being a true hillbilly, I have known about poke sallet all my life. In fact, my small town even has a three day Poke Sallet Festival every year during the first weekend of June. Among the highlights of the festival are the poke sallet recipe competition, along with the traditional poke sallet dinner of poke sallet, soup beans, and corn bread, served at one of the local restaurants. Strangely enough, I've never eaten poke, mostly because I don't enjoy greens of any form (mustard, etc.), but also, because my father told me when I was 5 or 6 that the poke plant was poisonous. I think that this was to discourage me from trying to eat the purple berries that appear on the plant in the late summer, but at any rate, it was enough to keep me from ever trying this Harlan County delicacy!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Euell Gibbons has a chapter in his "Stalking the Wild Asparagus" book dedicated to Pokeweed. Apparantly you aren't supposed to eat the seeds, old stems or root- poisonous no matter how you prepare them. The young leaves and sprouts are edible after first boiling them in plenty of water for 10 minutes- put back in the pot with a wee bit of water, some fat and simmer for about half an hour.

The book is quite good..funny and enlightening. But I still do further research on any plant targeted for my table as there is quite a bit more information available these days.

Shelley: Would you like some pie?

Gordon: MASSIVE, MASSIVE QUANTITIES AND A GLASS OF WATER, SWEETHEART. MY SOCKS ARE ON FIRE.

Twin Peaks

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Honey, go get me a mess of those poke salat greens"

My mother once confused a city-born girlfriend of mine with the question: "Honey, you wanna run down to the dozer pile and pick some poke?"

I've eaten it all my life. Blanch it in boiling water for a few minutes and then use it like you would spinach (similar flavor). I've almost always had it with eggs (generally just cooked along with scrambled eggs, after blanching).

Those who do not remember the pasta are doomed to reheat it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

We ate it growing up and always understood you had to cook it once, dump the water and cook it again. This obviously means there will be no texture to it once you're done, but that was the way all vegetables were eaten- anything with a crunch was not done. I like greens but think poke salad (or salat) is too strong. On the other hand, there was little wild escarole in our back yard.

As an added bonus, in late summer you could pull handsful of berries off the plants and throw them at each other, leaving unremovable stains on your friend's clothes (not to mention your hands). Thus, while we knew of poke salad, we generally referred to the plants by their more utilitarian (for us) name: ink berry plants.

"Eat at Joe's."

- Joe

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...