Thursday, April 27, 2006

Poke Sallet, Vadalia Onions, and Cornbread

My neighbor picked me a mess of poke sallet and I'm cooking it today. Ah, smells so good!! I grew up eating poke sallet every spring. Sometimes my Mom would cook it by itself or sometimes she mixed other wild greens in with it. She used to pick stuff she called, "Shawnee," but I haven't a clue as to what it was. She also picked "lambs quarters" and briar leaves and mixed that in as well. Then we normally had cornbread and onions with it. It's delicious of course. I've always heard "Poke sallet is the best spring tonic you can find; it gets your blood going." Not everyone likes it though. It does have a distinct flavor all its own.

I found this little one growing out in the yard. It's best to pick poke while it's young and tender. I always cook it some first and then pour the water off and then rinse it in cold water and pour that off and then start off with more cold water. I always heard it was poisonous and you had to cook the poison out. I know the berries are poisonous if they are eaten. Here's a picture of the berries after the plant has matured. I think back in the old days people used the berries for dye and maybe some still do. I found this canned poke sallet picture on a google search but I have never seen it for sale in any store I've ever been in. If so, I would have bought some!

You can cook it and then freeze it for eating during the winter.
I'm going to go slice the vadalia onions now. I found the first ones in the grocery store recently and got so excited. I love vadalia onions. Yummy good!! You all come on over and pull up a chair and dig in.


Blogger Cheyenne said...

I thought you misspelled poke sallet at first, because being a northerner (yuck) we only know it from the song Poke Salad Annie. Thank you so much for clearing that up for me. Amazing that at my age I am still learning things.
Our 'spring tonic' greens up here are dandelion.

1:03 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

I must not be a northerner or a southerner, because I've never heard of any of these foods.
We can check with Mrs. Jim as she's from Louisiana. Those people might eat poke sallet, "Shawnee," "lambs quarters" and briar leaves.
She can make collard greens and those are sort of good. She makes real good cornbread too. The onions go with fried catfish or BBQ.
I'm sure it has a distinct flavor all its own if they grow wild. Sort of like eating catnip soup, maybe?
I remember that Granny on The Beverly Hillbillies used to make some strange greenns to go with her hog jowls and possum somethings. Do you have those things too?

1:17 PM  
Blogger Ralph's Homespun Headlines said...

I have never heard of poke sallet. What does it taste like?
Save me a chair - I'll try it.

2:09 PM  
Blogger Abandoned in Pasadena said...

Poke Salet...I didn't know that's what it was called. I always just called it 'poke.' My husband dips the leaves in cornmeal and fries it. It's ok, and I'm not dead.

I've eaten mixed greens from the yard and they aren't bad.
I personally, don't have a clue of what to pick, so I don't cook them, but I'm thinking that I could pick just anything that is leafy & green and cook it and it would all taste the same. What do you think?

Now, a valdalia onion would be great on a hamburger or in a bowl of beans.

6:55 PM  
Blogger Abandoned in Pasadena said...

Lyrics to Polk Salad Annie

If some of ya'll never been down South too much...
I'm gonna tell you a little bit about this,
So that you'll understand what I'm talking about
Down there we have a plant
That grows out in the woods and the fields,
Looks somethin' like a turnip green.
Everybody calls it Poke salad. Poke salad.
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.

Down in Louisiana
Where the alligators grow so mean
There lived a girl that I swear to the world
Made the alligators look tame

Poke salad Annie, poke salad Annie
Everybody said it was a shame
Cause her mama was working on the chain-gang
(A mean, vicious woman)

Everyday 'fore supper time
She'd go down by the truck patch
And pick her a mess o' polk salad
And carry it home in a tote sack

Poke salad Annie, 'gators got you granny
Everybody said it was a shame
'Cause her mama was aworkin' on the chain-gang
(a wretched, spiteful, straight-razor totin' woman,
Lord have mercy. Pick 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

Poke salad Annie, the gators got your granny
Everybody said it was a shame
Cause her mama was a working' on the chain gang
(Sock a little polk salad to me, you know I need a mess of it)

written by Tony Joe White
Originally recorded by Tony Joe White
Also recorded by Elvis Presley

7:04 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Jim, you come over and we'll fix you some of Granny's possum innards, hog jowl, and poke sallet!!

Cheyenne, I have never eaten dandelions before!

Ralph, you would like it if you like greens in general I think. I put some country ribs in these and I put corn in the cornbread, and oh it was so good!! There were no leftovers, except for 2 pieces of cornbread!

AIP, Thanks for the words to Poke Salad Annie. We usually called it plain ole "poke" too most of the time! (That's also what we called a brown paper bag!). My Dad always wanted to cook up some grass and see what it tasted like. After all he said the horses and cows ate it and liked it! He loved greens and I can't cook anything like that without thinking about him.

7:32 PM  
Blogger Cliff Morrow said...

Well Rachel, we've got lambsquarter but I can't imagine eating them.
Save me a place, I'd love to try the poke.
I liked the song, you'd think I'd like the salad.
Poke...............................................................................salad duh.

7:58 PM  
Blogger Ontario Wanderer said...

I grew up thinking Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) was poisonous but I see even my wild flower field guide says that young shoots are etible. Is this the correct plant? How do you cook it up? I just happen to know where some grows not too far away.

2:41 AM  
Blogger DayByDay4-2Day said...

you southerners and your weird veggies. collard greens and dandelions and and lets not for get okra!

5:44 AM  
Blogger Mike ( ex scientia, veritas ) said...

Remember, "poke sallet Annie, 'gators got your granny." :)

6:20 AM  
Anonymous Margaret said...

Um, I'm kind of a picky eater, especially when it comes to greens, so you probably wouldn't want me at your table, Rachel. But, can I have some cornbread? Yummmmmmm.... :o)

10:26 AM  
Blogger Jamie Dawn said...

I've never heard of Poke Salet greens. I love the greens I've had in SC & GA though. I think they are collard and turnip greens. The Cracker Barrell has Greens on their menu. I LOVE those with some vinegar on them.
If I was nearby, I'd join you for some of those poke salet greens and vidalia onions. Yummy!

10:38 AM  
Blogger Cheyenne said...

The dandelion salad made in this area is mainly a Pennsylvania Dutch/German recipe. You can also use endive or lettuce, but it doesn't taste as good. Also, wine is made from dandelions. Had some when I was a kid.

11:26 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

I 'Googled' and found this on the internet:
"In addition to poke salet's economy and taste, it is being studied by researchers for use in treatments of autoimmune diseases including AIDS and rheumatoid arthritis. The chemicals in poke salet promote cell division in white blood cells that normally would not divide. Poke salet is also being studied as an agent to combat fungal infections."

You should send your post to "Dew on the Kudzu," a southern blog.

And tell Cheyenne that my mom used to make dandelion salad, too. And wine.

2:10 PM  
Anonymous Jerry said...

My Dad always like mustard greens. They stunk up the whole house when they were cooking on the stove.

3:56 PM  
Blogger Susie Hovendick Chan said...

Sorry about your fall. Maybe you're not weird, but you're funny. Funnier's much better, anyway.

7:46 PM  
Blogger Sonia said...

Hi Rachel, I have never heard of poke sallet. It's looks like my jaboticabas, isn't? What does it taste like?

Last but not least, thank you so much for your gentle comment about my landscape.

Wishing you a happy weekend!

8:46 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Mrs. Jim does know Poke salad. Her grandmother made it, but she doesn't remember too much about it.
We don't have poke in Texas, at least not our part.
I know you don't cook all those things Granny did.

10:26 PM  
Blogger doubleknot said...

Spring tonic. Grandmother used to fix poke and dandilion greens with salt pork. I have in my day cooked dandilion greens.
Can I come over and have some corn bread - seems everyone elses taste better then mine.

4:37 AM  
Anonymous Tammy said...

Hi Rachel. I have never even heard of poke sallet greens :-s And isn't lambs quarters a weed, lol? I do know what vidalia onions are, though ;) I like those! Have a great weekend!!

10:17 AM  
Blogger Britmum said...

Sounds very interesting indeed. Us poor Brits only have a bland pallett or so I have been told. LOL

Take care

10:25 AM  
Blogger Tan Lucy Pez said...

My mama picked poke salet! It grew wild out behind our shed in the back yard. She mixed it with turnip greens. I just bought my first vadalia onion of the season too. Do you put sugar in your cornbread? I do 'cause Mama did.

Recently I've taken to putting creamed corn in my cornbread too. Yum.

I used to crush the poke salet berries and use the juice to write "secret notes" to my friends. I didn't know the berries were poisonous. But they sure stained my clothes. Mama fussed a bit about that. But the sun is a good bleach and she'd get the stains out by hangin' stuff on the line.

5:15 PM  
Blogger Tan Lucy Pez said...

I forgot to ask: do you season with bacon grease? Mama cooked bacon every single morning, and saved the grease and used it to cook with. I mean Mama cooked everything with bacon grease.

Personally, I think you could add bacon grease and sugar to ANYTHING and it would taste good.

5:20 PM  
Blogger Becky said...

Oh, that sounds like a meal that my mother used to fix all the time! We love poke sallet!! My husband and my boys won't eat it, so the only time I get it is when my mom fixes it for me!! Mmmmm...sounds so good!

3:02 PM  
Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I don't know that Poke sallet stuff at all.ever heard of it till reading this post Rachel...! I have heard of Vadalia Onions though...It all sounds quite yummy! I wish I could come on over for a bite or two, my dear.

12:15 AM  
Blogger David said...

Stopping by to catch up and see where you have been absent almost as much as I have been. I saw some of that WEED at the farm this past week but I would never eat it.

1:47 PM  
Blogger Jamie Dawn said...

Just popped in again.
Hope your weekend was a goodie. :)

3:14 PM  
Blogger Doug Bagley said...

Greens are fine but for some reason I could never stand okra. Don't know why.

5:06 PM  
Blogger Leslie Shelor said...

I remember grandma and the great-aunts all going out in early spring to gather 'sallet'. I hated the smell of the stuff when they were cooking it. You can dye with the berries but the color fades, I think.

7:32 PM  
Anonymous cassie-b said...

I love vidalia onions. We just finished a big pot of creamy vidalia onion soup. And was it good.


When I lived in upstate New York, I made a pot (only one) of dandelion greens for my husband every year. Interesting taste.

3:28 AM  
Blogger Stephanie J. Rosenbaum said...

Tracing those southern mountain folk back to their English/Scotch/Irish roots, it's actually poke "sallet" not salad--"sallet" is an old English word for cooked greens; it's important to remember the difference because poke greens are mildly poisonous when raw, and should only be eaten cooked. Cook them in several changes of water, boiling them well, rinsing and starting over in fresh water. Then you can serve them like any greens--with garlic, olive oil and lemon, or with hot pepper vinegar and bacon. I just got me a mess of poke from a farmer at the Fayetteville Arkansas farmers market--it's boiling up right now!

12:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People laugh at me when I say I have a "mess" of something. They don't know what a "mess" is. LOLOL

3:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Poke is eaten from at least Southern Ohio all the way down the Appalachian chain. It does have some toxicity to it but the chutes and leaves don't contain much. Never eat the root or seeds. The stalk should have the skin peeled off. Then boil it (the stalk)twice for 1 minute draining the water both times. Then boil it a third time for 15 minutes. My grandma boils twice, then fries it in bacon grease. Very good! U can do the leaves the same way.

PS. "Sallet" is an Old English word meaning cooked greens. "Salad" of course means uncooked greens.

5:39 AM  
Blogger Walt said...

It's good to see another Kentuckian on the web, I may go pick some Poke tonight.

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, now!
I'm glad to see that somebody else besides me likes poke sallet! I haven't had any for a LONG time, but poke sallet is so good when cooked with some jowl bacon (of course after cooking it twice before, changing the water), with some crackling bread, fried pork chops, potato pone, and some good ol' sweet tea! Though I live in Chicago, I'm a country girl down to the socks!

11:31 PM  
Blogger Carla said...

Hey, we love poke...Question, has anyone tried to freeze it for storage. Any success?

7:39 PM  
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9:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was so surprised to read about poke salad/sallet, etc. in the newspaper today since I was in on a conversation about it with some other Central Texans just this past weekend. Wow, this must be a hot topic. My aunt once took my mother and me to pick poke here in Central Texas when I was a teenager (so don't say it doesn't grow in Texas). I do not remember it being 6 feet tall or 6 feet wide, though. It was about the size of fresh spinach or collard greens, and I wonder if it's related to them. The ones we picked grew along a fence line.

We picked it as a fun learning experience because it was a wild vegetable that pioneers probably ate as they ambled across the prairie. My aunt, 20 years older than my mother and the expert at poking, said that it must be boiled, drained, rinsed with fresh water and the process repeated five different times before it is served. We followed her directions diligently, and I tasted the finished dish. It looked, smelled, and tasted like very strong spinach (very acidic). It didn't make me sick, but it did scald the inside of my mouth. Maybe I should have had some Vadalia onions and cornbread with it or boiled it the 6th time. Vadalia onions hadn't been "designed" when we were poking, but a neighbor of mine said her family picked wild onions in the spring and froze them for a special treat around Thanksgiving. Yes, I'm talking about the ones that make little white onion flowers.

10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Been eating polk salad for 55 years. Grows all over the place here ln North Texas. I can spot it from a 100 yards going 50 mph down a dirt road. Grows all over the USA I think. I was up in New York City a few years back strolling through Central Park. Polkweed, Polksallet, Polksalad was a growing everwhere. You can pick it from about 6 inch to 2 feet tall for best eating. I've seen it grow 7 or 8 feet tall , 5 or 6 feet wide loaded with purple berries. I like it at 2 feet right when the berries start forming. It's got a stronger flavor. Be sure to discard the little berries. They will be white or green when young. I put up about 40 or 50 quart bags ever spring. The whole plant is poisoness, specially the root and berries. Never eat it past 2 or 3 foot tall. Probably to toxic after that. I float it in a sink full of water so the bugs and little spiders that are hiding on the leaves and stems come to the top. Discard them too. Boil in a big pot about 10 minutes. Discard water. Put in freezer bags. Then freeze up to 1 year. To cook boil again, then drain again. Some people do the boiling thing 3 times. I do it 2 times so as not to lose to much flavor. Be sure to squeeze most of the liquid out,it is poisoness. I cook it in a iron skillet with 2 or 3 or 4 tbs Bacon grease and crack 3 or 4 eggs over the top. Stir till the eggs are done and most of the liquid is boiled off. I love Polk Salad. Polk Salad pizza is good too. Polk Salad, lots of garlic, a good white sauce and a little parmesan. It makes a good dip too. Polk Salad, creamcheese, artichoke,mayo, and sour cream. Don't forget Polk Salad lasagna.
Get to picking you some Pokeweed.
Country Boy Dee.

5:44 AM  
Blogger devinep said...

Edward Poke sallet is very tasty mixed with other greens or stir fried with eggs&onions,a co-worker of mine who is from Jamaca had a green called calalu, which is cooked with salt/cod fish as a cassorole, so we substituted poke sallet and it tasted great.

12:47 AM  
Anonymous Janet Jenkins said...

I just picked poke sallet this afternoon and I'm cooking it now. Onions and cornbread just add to the feast. Janet in Westmoreland, Tn.

4:53 PM  
Blogger Jenell said...

I don't know how anybody could say we don't have poke sallet here in Texas, lol, it's everywhere in Texas! You must just not know what it looks like or where to find it. I'm in Se texas and cooked up a mess of poke sallet greens thos evneing myself...I've seen it all over this state....except for maybe the trans-pecos region, not sure about there.

10:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I Love Poke Sallet!! I remember being about 6 or 7 years old, Me My grandad and dad would go out and pick it in the spring. ( It grows all over here in Maryland). I still eat it to this day, call it a springtime tradition in my family. I boil it twice, add a couple eggs and some bacon, and scramble it all together in a cast iron frying pan Brings back fond memories of my grandfather when spring comes around.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't imagine that polk berries are poisonous since I have evidence on my car from time to time that birds enjoy eating them. Besides that, my parents use to make polk berry wine. It was very sweet and heavy but no one died or even got sick from it. It has a bad rep for some reason but I can tell you now, it never mattered to my mom how big the leaves were or if it was spring or late summer.we found it, we ate it.

8:10 AM  

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