Each interaction that I have with a visitor to the market is full of wonder and surprises. I recently learned something from a customer that reminded me of an early excursion to one of the farmers’ markets in Guilford County, having to do with pokeweed.
This was probably about 14 years ago. One of my first visits to the market. There were so many new things to see and taste (the first time I had Red Russian kale, and local organic strawberries). One of the vendors had a pile of oddly familiar greens stacked haphazardly on a sheet of unfolded newspaper – that was pretty much all he had to offer. The hand-written sign read: “Pote salat.” I can’t remember if I asked him directly, or if I overheard him explaining to someone else, but he sheepishly explained that he wasn’t really sure what to do with it, or how to prepare it, all he knew was you had to be careful how you ate it.
Fast forward to the present. I knew that gentleman was talking about pokeweed, but I wouldn’t dare mess with it. Until a particular customer, last year, brought it up. We didn’t talk about it much, just in passing. Then, that person came by again this year. We exchanged greetings, and I couldn’t resist asking about the pokeweed. Next thing I knew, I was receiving a full-blown description of its preparation:
- Only pick young tender greens (it’s too late at this time of year).
- Put them in filtered water or spring water, bring to a boil, let boil for 5-10 minutes (I don’t remember the precise time).
- Remove them from the water, dispose of the water, add new water.
- Squeeze them in order to start removing the “poison.”
- Repeat step four one or two more times.
- Saute up with onions, olive oil, a bit of salt and pepper.
I’ll be posting a picture and more details as I come across them.