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anyone eat poke weed

 
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well ive identified the young growth, about a foot tall now, coming out of large almost carrot like roots in the garden. Poke Weed, yup ,Phytolacca americana.
wikipedia has a recipe for the young growth from this poisonous plant it involves boiling twice and rinsing 5 to 6 times then frying in bacon grease.
 
gardener
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It is widely eaten by the Creek and Seminole Indians in these parts.  But I myself hew to the view that anything you have to cook three times probably can't be all that good for you.  As a starvation food, which it often served as, sure.  But just to be eating it?  Not for me.
 
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My grandmother always looked forward to "poke sallat" every spring. I have fond memories helping her pick it as a small child. She would tell me if they were small enough or too big. No one else I know liked it, including myself, but then I'm not a fan of cooked greens. If you like mustard greens, spinach, etc. you may like it. I don't recall her frying it in bacon grease after cooking in two changes of water, but bacon grease was added to virtually all dishes and I'm pretty sure this one as well. I believe poke has been found to possibly help prevent/fight cancer.
 
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Location: Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep clay/loam with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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We used to eat some every spring.  It tastes good when prepared correctly.
Well worth the fuss of boiling at least a couple times...you'll know if you have not parboiled enough.

We cut leaves when they were just a few, maybe six, inches tall? ...and then slightly larger plants where there was a fat stem we would not use the leaves but peel and slice the stem.  It's been a while so check me on this...I don't think the peeled stem needed any other precooking? just sliced and sauteed.
I have several plants here but forgot to check early enough this spring and they are all too big now.

I think I would watch it's growth over the summer to correctly ID though...it is so distinctive and it's possible to misidentify seeing only
the roots and new spring growth unless you already had seen the mature plant in that spot.
 
bruce Fine
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im 100 percent certain on the identification
 
pollinator
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I've eaten poke a few times since reading Samuel Thayer's write up about it in his latest book "Incredible Wild edibles".  I've got several of the plants growing around my property.  Wouldn't you know though, just after really learning about it, the huge healthy perennial plant that was more like bush suddenly seemed to die off to about nothing just when I was eagerly waiting for it to emerge in spring.  I'd highly recommend reading his account of it in the book as, like all his plant profiles, he is very thorough.  Did you know poke was actually still commercially canned as late as the year 2000?  He does write that the edible parts are generally boiled for about 10 minutes before draining and some people will then parboil for a few minutes more in a second change of water, which he recommends for all new to the plant.  I don't recall if I boiled it just once or twice.  My memory of it is that it was a perfectly good vegetable which can be fairly abundant, and easy to harvest when in season.  I'm looking forward to it's emergence at my place soon.

What I particularly like about Thayer's write up is his detail of what and when to harvest.  I don't want to short change the details here and lead someone to harvest improperly so I'll just say if you know what you are looking for it can be more than just shoots only a few inches tall.  He also has a great section on the toxins involved and the paranoia that has developed about pokeweed in recent decades.  If you can find his book at the library check it out!  Here's a link to it on Amazon https://amzn.to/3b78rlJ  (I will note I am an Amazon affiliate and this is an affiliate link for which I'd earn a bit for qualifying sales.)

Oh, you can eat the peeled stem at certain stages of growth, but though much of the toxin is in the peel it must still be cooked!!
 
bruce Fine
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I know the cardinals and other birds around pig out on the purple berries in the fall and late summer. I never knew much about it until just recently when hoeing in the garden and digging up some of the roots sent me on a quest to find out exactly what it was. it grows all over my property.
this year I'm determined to keep the blue ribbon weeds out of my garden
 
Judith Browning
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Oh, you can eat the peeled stem at certain stages of growth, but though much of the toxin is in the peel it must still be cooked!



Cooked, yes, and also parboiled?
 
bruce Fine
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I got a feeling its got all kinds good vitamins and minerals in it
 
David Huang
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Judith Browning wrote:

Oh, you can eat the peeled stem at certain stages of growth, but though much of the toxin is in the peel it must still be cooked!



Cooked, yes, and also parboiled?



In referencing the larger but still tender peeled stems Thayer notes, "Many people fry these peeled shoots without parboiling first, but I still recommend a brief parboiling."  For myself I'd probably be inclined to still to a parboil too.
 
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Folklore has it that one poke berry per day is good against rheumatism.

Technically speaking the berries are poisonous, so not for munching or jelly.

As they say, The difference between poison and medicine is dosage.
 
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I've eaten it many times. It's true that, like my grandmother always said, "you must boil it three times, pouring off the water each time and rinse well." It is one of the earliest greens in the spring and I suppose that back in the day people were green starved by the time the first shoots emerged and looked forward to eating it. I've mostly eaten it mixed with scrambled eggs, but it's also good drained well, then sautéed with butter and garlic. I would guess that like most wild foods, poke is far more nutritious than it's garden-raised counterparts. It's an easy one to try!
 
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Here in the Ozarks it's popular with a lot of old-timers. I grew up eating it -- my parents would drive around in the country looking for it growing up in ditches and fence rows and bring it home. But we didn't boil it three times or draining it. Just boil it once for an hour or so and it should be non-toxic. I've got it growing all over my land, and I typically pick it to cook with other stuff like collards and kale to add flavor rather than eating it by itself.
 
Kevin Carson
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David Huang wrote: Did you know poke was actually still commercially canned as late as the year 2000?  



My mom worked at a chicken plant years ago with someone who would drive around after work picking pokeweed in the country and then take it to the local cannery to sell.
 
gardener
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I have it growing in some of my Zone 3 & 4 areas, but I haven't eaten it (yet). Mainly because I have a lot of volunteer greens in the gardens, plus lots of lambsquarters, chickweed and purslane that grows in the zones 1 & 2 areas in spots I don't want/need them. If I didn't have those options, then I'd probably cook the poke.

Instead, I like to take advantage of the accumulated nutrients by using it as mulch or making it into a tea for the gardens and potted plants. It easily gets as tall as a building, so plenty of biomass.
Screenshot_20200628-151911.png
12 ft tall pokeweed
12 ft tall pokeweed
 
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I eat it every spring down here in Florida. It’s a good springtime tonic and a berry or two is like taking a mild ibuprofen. When you cook a mess of poke it has a similar taste and texture as boiled spinach (slimy). When I make it I cook it like my grandma taught me. I cut it into smaller pieces, like you would collard greens and boil it in 3 changes of water. Then I fry up some bacon and sauté the poke in the bacon grease for a coupla minutes. After that I crack some eggs and scramble them up with the poke and bacon grease. Good stuff!! Just remember, when poke sallet stems begin to turn purple, it’s time to find something else to eat because at that stage you won’t be able to boil out the toxins.
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