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 Post subject: Poke
PostPosted: Wed Jun 04, 2003 11:27 pm 

Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2003 10:51 pm
Posts: 747
Location: Garland, Texas
Pokeweed, Pokeberry, Pokeroot -- Phytolacca americana

Does anyone grow (or keep) this herb? What do you do with yours? I started with one plant (a volunteer) 4 or 5 years ago. It is now about 4' tall, and I am getting other volunteers around the property. I kept the original out of curiosity and nostalgia for the old 60's (I think) song Poke Salad Annie (great song!). I have never had poke sallit and, due to warnings from people who have, don't know if I ever will :( .

I heard one of HG's reports where he mentioned that Poke was one of his newest perennials. So, I thought maybe, just maybe someone else out there has Poke.

Keeping it clean and green here, Boss.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2003 2:56 pm 

Joined: Sat Apr 26, 2003 5:09 pm
Posts: 31
Location: Houston
We had volunteers start outside our breakfast window. Every morning the mockingbirds come to eat poke berries. I keep mine for the birds, I would never dare eat it myself. I haven't done anything to take care of mine and they look great (about 6' tall). I have pulled up several "baby" plants around the yard, it's hard to get all the root out if plant is large . I don't want too many since they might be a bit dangerous to children.

 Post subject: Poke
PostPosted: Sun Jun 08, 2003 11:24 am 

Joined: Sun Jun 08, 2003 10:53 am
Posts: 21
Location: Austin, Texas
I have been eating poke salad since I was a little girl and I love the stuff! It does need to be cooked properly or it can make you pretty sick. The ideal time to harvest it is earlier in the spring when it is just coming up. Cut the new shoots to the ground and the plant will branch out and send up more shoots. You can usually harvest about every 2 weeks. Once the stems are tough and hollow and the plant starts to bloom it is too old to harvest.

Wash the tender shoots and bring a pot of water to boil. Don't use aluminum pots for this, stainless steel or ceramic clad pots will be best.
Put the poke in the boiling water, stir and bring the water back to a boil and boil for about 8 minutes. (Some people cook for ten minutes, but I think it loses too much color.) I use tongs to pull the cooked poke from the water and place it in a colander to drain. Generally I pick several 30 gallon size garbage bags worth of fresh poke and cook it it batches. It cooks down a lot! I cool the cooked poke and freeze in freezer bags so I have it all year. Discard the water you have cooked the poke in. I have heard that this water will kill insects but have not tried it!

The boiling water will leach out toxic compounds so that the poke is now safe to eat. Eating raw or unboiled poke can result in a nasty stomach upset. Poke is full of vitamins and trace minerals and was considered a "spring tonic" by residents of the South where it grows prolifically. When pioneers had no more stored vegetables and were tired of their dried and canned goods all winter, poke salad was a welcome treat in Spring.

The plants flourish in sandy soils and are often found along creeks, lakes and waterways. Birds love the dark purple berries and spread the seed. The plants are generally about 4 feet tall and are very attractive. Cut the seeds if you are trying to control its spread. The berries were used as a dye and a source of ink. The roots and berries are being researched as possible cancer treatments.

Here is my favorite recipe for poke salad:

2 slices natural Bacon (Pederson Farms is great), cut in 1 inch pieces
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 cups boiled poke salad
2 Tablespoons tamari sauce

Fry the bacon in a heavy cast iron dutch oven or heavy 4 quart pan. Stir frequently to prevent burning. Remove the bacon and set aside.

Add the onion and brown in the bacon drippings. Add the garlic and cook until it begins to be done, but not brown.

Add the balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan and stir well to clean the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook for about a minute.

Add the poke salad, stir well and cover. Cook for twelve to fifteen minutes until heated through. Add the tamari just before serving. Stir in the reserve bacon pieces. Serve with some good homemade cornbread.

Vegetarians - omit bacon and use olive oil to saute onion and garlic

Be advised that poke salad is extremely high in fiber and is very cleansing for the digestive tract! (Don't consume it before a long car trip, etc.)

I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do. My family loves it too, so I freeze extra for them. It tastes very similar to cooked spinach.

 Post subject: Poke
PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2003 5:30 pm 

Joined: Sun Jun 22, 2003 8:59 am
Posts: 20
Location: Joshua,TEXAS
I was raised in East Texas, Poke grows wild there. We would pick a big mess and then mother washed it and boiled it once, then poured the water off and put more water inand boiled it again. she would fry bacon, then onions in the bacon drippings. Then she draioned the poke and poured the poke into the pan with the onions and then she broke eggs into it and let the eggs cook till done. then she put the bacon back in and served it with dry toast or biscuits. It makes some pretty good eating.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2003 7:14 pm 

Joined: Sat Mar 15, 2003 10:03 pm
Posts: 57
Location: Highland Village,TEXAS
trishas is right...I grew up in Oklahoma, and my mother (God rest her soul) used to make poke salad. I have some growing here, and eat it in season. Gotta cook it proper. It will spread, though.
It is delicous, in my opinion. Vada-that is the way I remembered it, and the way I cook it.

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