My Appalachian word this week is POKE.
This one might be a tad confusing to non-mountain folks. There are two kinds of POKES we refer to in the mountains.
The first kind of POKE is the one you get when you go shopping for your groceries. The paper type, that is. Some of you may call it a sack or a bag. In my part of the country we called it a POKE.
You know the term “pig in a poke”? Well, that’s what the POKE is. Aren’t you glad you finally know what they’re talking about?
There’s also another type of POKE. It’s a green leafy plant that grows wild, uncultivated. In my hometown of Harlan, Kentucky, we even have a POKE Sallet Festival every June to celebrate the POKE weed. If you don’t know what a SALLET is, come back next week to find out.
|Special thanks to Corinne Farley for this photo|
There’s an important secret about POKE before you go out, gather the plants, and eat them on your own. It’s TOXIC. Yep, it can make you quite ill and can even kill you. Because of that, you need to know exactly how to harvest and prepare POKE to keep from killing anyone.
Here is the link to a Youtube video showing how to harvest and prepare POKE properly.
Most of the people I know add scrambled eggs to their POKE. It can be a tad bitter and the eggs calm down the flavor.
Here’s the Poke Sallet Recipe
1. Remove Poke leaves from plant
2. Rinse Pokeweed leaves in cool water
3. Bring leaves to rolling boil in large pot for 20 minutes
4. Pour leaves into sieve (colander) and rinse in cool water
5. Repeat Steps 3 and 4 two more times
6. Panfry Poke leaves for a couple of minutes in bacon grease
7. Add crushed bacon, salt and pepper to taste (or add and scramble eggs)
8. Serve and enjoy
One more secret of the POKE weed plant. As the season progresses, purplish berries appear on the top of the plant. Those berries seem to be the most toxic part of the plant. If you put a berry into your mouth and chew it, you will probably die.
However, some Granny Women and current day natural medical practitioners swear by the healing qualities of those POKE berries if they are swallowed whole without biting or chewing.
Feeling lucky? Me either. I’ll leave the whole POKE plant to someone else to risk, thank you.
So, do you think you would ever try POKE sallet? If so, I recommend you travel to Harlan, Kentucky next June and try it at the POKE Sallet Festival. Check out their website at:
Make sure you choose a vendor with a long line of repeat customers.