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Jun 15, 2010 09:26 AM

To Be or not To Be??

It has been brought to my attention that the weeds growing around the tree in my FIL's back yard is Poke Salad.

Mrs. Sippi wants to pick it and have me cook it.

Do I or don't I??

If "Yes" then how??


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  1. proceed with caution. i'm not sure about the comment re: summer & fall plants, but everything else i've read does say that the mature leaves, berries and taproot are highly toxic.

    excerpt from the Wild Vegetarian Cookbook:
    "Make sure you collect only the young stems and leaves in the spring, never the roots, flowers, berries, or summer or fall plants, which are poisonous. Avoid plants more than 8 inches tall. Prepare as directed below, or you may get very sick. Beginners should use this dangerous gourmet vegetable only under expert supervision."

    1. Take the young ones, steam them quickly, then sautee them with some onions and EVOO and add as a topping to scrambled eggs or use in an omelet.

        1. re: todao

          Listen to the old-timers. Boil it, throw out the water, boil again. Squeeze dry, chop, fry in bacon grease with onion and egg. First time I tasted it I knew I was HOME.

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            Not really. By everything I've read it's completely harmless if handled correctly.

            I think GHG has it right. Not to be undertaken by an amateur.
            Will, you wanna come over and cook these things??


            1. re: Davwud

              Davwud, if you decide to go for it, here's a video that demonstrates what to look for when you're harvesting pokeweed (to be sure it's safe):

              You may want to look into Sunny Savage, too--she's a wild foods expert and she has a few tasty pokeweed recipes (good, clear prep instructions, too). She's being featured at this week:

              I hope that's helpful!

              1. re: jackie_bk

                This is helpful to me, I have a yard full of this stuff. After watching the video, not sure that I'm going to try eating it though. I think they are beautiful as ornamentals, although I made the mistake of telling my husband it was pokeweed, and as soon as he heard "weed" he declared war and cut down all the big ones. Of course they're coming back up in spades now. Maybe I'll try the berry/ink thing to show him they have some value.

                1. re: coll

                  As an ancient person who grew up in the Ozarks I can vouch for "poke sallet" being delicious, but you do need to stick with the young plants.
                  The biggest drawback for me is that birds love the ripe berries, which spreads the plants everywhere and produces purple poop on my car.

                  1. re: Samalicious

                    Thank the Lord for all the young poke greens and get a car cover! When I think of all the stuff birds eat that WE can't but which still wind up on our cars - hackberries, anyone? - I think we should be grateful that they propagate something for us once in a while.

                    I'm actually speaking from envy, since here in SoCal the only poke greens I can get are canned, and I really have to look for them...

                  2. re: coll

                    I hear you--pokeweed is maybe not the best starting plant for first-time foragers. If you're still keen on foraging something less risky, don't overlook dandelions. They're abundant, easily identifiable, and super tasty. A good recipe:

                    Dandelion Flower Tempura

                    2 cups dandelion flower heads
                    1 cup flour of your choice
                    1 Tbsp kudzu powder (called kuzu powder in stores)
                    1 cup cold water
                    cooking oil
                    dash salt

                    Mix dry ingredients thoroughly. Add water to dry mix and stir completely to get all lumps out. Use a high heat cooking oil like pecan, grapeseed, or avocado. Dip clean dandelion flower head into batter (avoid washing the flowers as they will become soggy) and place into hot oil. Cook for roughly 1 minute on each side and drain on paper towel. Add salt before serving.

                    (That's another Sunny Savage recipe--she's great.)

            2. Used to know a girl that lived down there and
              she'd go out in the evenings and pick a mess of it...
              Carry it home and cook it for supper, 'cause that's about all they had to eat,
              But they did all right.