Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Poke salad, poke weed, poke, is a wild vegetable found in the southern states mostly. Native to North America, South America and New Zealand and according to my google search this morning, Poke is a widely eaten vegetable and is extremely poisonous. I knew the mature leaves and berries were but I thought the tender green leaves had not developed their great poison yet. I was wrong. On one web site named "don't eat poke". written by the Alabama extension office described poke and explained how American Natives introduced and taught the settlers how to harvest and prepare poke with out illness.

Poke starts out with these beautiful green leaves and thick tender stems, as the plant matures it sends up a large shoot that is loaded with a necklace of red berries. The berries at one time were used as a die. These berries if eaten by non birds will surly send you into the hospital, but birds do just fine.

So, I had heard of poke, but had never eaten or prepared it. I have searched for it but have never found any. Thank God.

Debbie Shanks a long time vender at the Cherry Street Farmers Market just happened to have a few bunches last Saturday so under her instruction I bought three bunches. That night for dinner we had grilled pork and green pork chops, poke and roasted potatoes. The meal was fantastic and the poke was delicious. The most important part of the preparation of poke is to boil it first. I thought this was to tenderize it. I found out this morning, Its not, its to try to get the poison out. 30 minutes is recommended and changing the water is also recommended. I boiled it for 10 minutes.

In a large cast iron pan I had sauteed onion and lots of garlic waiting in a pan. Once I figured the poke was adequately tenderized I strained it and cooked it with my garlicky mixture for another 10 minutes. It basically looked like cooked spinach. I wasn't leery at all Kasey took a very small portion and said he wanted to see our reaction before having a second helping. I had a extra large portion (I love greens) It was absolutely delicious!

Luckily we all fared fine in spite of my ignorance, but I've learned a valuable lesson.
Google before you eat something wild that is said to be poisonous.


Sue said...

If you like poke, we have lots of it here. I'll pick a few bunches next time we are coming your way. It scares me to cook it! So glad you lived to tell the story!!!

Lisa said...

Sue, I went mushroom hunting this morning and found lots of it (no mushrooms however:( Cant mistake it now. I've wrangled it, we're like family, toxic but likable in our own way.