Appalachian Thursday – Poisonous Pokeweed

SONY DSCWe watched a local program recently about businesses that take folks foraging for foods and then partner with area restaurants to prepare the foraged goods for your dinner. Fun!


They showed a chef using poke berries to make a glaze for peaches. Ummm. My momma lectured us up one side and down the other about NEVER eating poke berries. (Which didn’t stop us from hurling the ripe, purple fruit at one another, staining our hands and clothes.)

Poke sallet is an Appalachian spring staple, but as I’ve mentioned before it’s poisonous if not handled correctly. The only safe way I know to eat it is to pick young shoots (less than six inches or so) and boil them at least twice, but three times is better, changing the water after each boil. The term “sallet” leads people to think you’re meant to make a raw salad of the greens–DO NOT.

Some say you shouldn’t eat any part that’s red or even pink. Some say the berries are okay so long as you strain out the seeds. Some say it’s mainly the root that’s poison. Some say a little bit won’t hurt you.

Here’s what I say. If in doubt, don’t eat pokeweed. Although the berries are good for dye and ink.

If you’re curious about this apparently controversial plant, here’s a link to some interesting information about pokeweed.

Published by Sarah Loudin Thomas

Author, wife, child of God.

4 thoughts on “Appalachian Thursday – Poisonous Pokeweed

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