I have to start with a funny story. I titled this post “Poke Greens the Right Way” because I did it the wrong way the first time I cooked them. How do you mess up poke salad? Eat them without boiling them. I fixed them by just frying them in bacon grease with salt and pepper. Bad, bad mistake. I didn’t follow the instructions, so we were left with a bit of a stomach ache and ended up having to run to the bathroom a couple times. Lesson learned! Follow directions!
The poke plant when it matures is sorta poisonous. You have to harvest the shoots when they are young. If they have that magenta tint to the stem, they are too far gone. You especially shouldn’t eat the root or the purple berries. (Pokeroot actually has medicinal uses, but it is very potent and you have to know what you’re doing.)
But the old timers would always eat a mess of poke in the spring for a spring tonic. So naturally, I had to make it, too.
If you do it the right way, all turns out well. Here’s how you are supposed to fix poke:
Put the leaves in a stockpot to boil.
Boil for several minutes. Drain the water.
Put them in fresh water and boil again. Drain that water again after several minutes of boiling.
Then, you can proceed with tossing them in bacon grease, salt and pepper. Sizzle them up for just a few minutes, and then they are safe to eat.
Another traditional way to make them is to boil them twice as directed above, and then fry them up with scrambled eggs.
In this particular mess of poke, I added some dock, yarrow, and dandelion greens. Just for fun.
The take-away lesson from poke is that if you do it the right way, it is delicious and nutritious.
No need to fear edible wild plants growing in the woods, you just have to know them and know the right way to fix them. Sometimes parts of the plant are not good to eat. If you know the plant, foraging out in the woods is really fun and is one of my favorite pastimes. (see Wild Violet Jam for an easy way to use a common yard flower!)