If some of ya’ll never been down south too much
I’m gonna tell you a little bit about this
So that you’ll understand what I’m talkin’ about
Down there we have a plant that grows out in the woods
And in the fields looks somethin’ like a turnip green
And everybody calls it polk salad, polk salad
Used to know a girl lived down there
And she’d go out in the evenings and pick her a mess of it
Carry it home and cook it for supper
‘Cause thats about all they had to eat, but they did all right
Everyday for supper time, she’d go down by the truck patch
And pick her a mess of polk salad, and carry it home in a tow sack
Polk salad Annie, the gators got your granny
Everybody says it was a shame
Cause her momma was a workin’ on the chain gang
(A wretched, spiteful, straight-razor totin’ woman
Lord have Mercy, pick a mess of it)
Polk Salad Annie by Tommie Joe White
Some of you may have heard this song about Polk Salad Annie. Polk Salet (Phytolacca americana) is a wonderful tasting green, much like spinach when it’s cooked. But don’t try to eat it raw in a salad, it can make you very sick! A niece decided to make a salad from Polk and her family became very ill.
Early Spring brings an abundance of Polk in our areas and throughout the United States. It grows in pasture lands, recently cleared or bull dozed areas and in woodland areas. It can grow as high as 8 feet and in its mature stage has purple berries, which are considered poisonous. It is generally not recommended that one eat the berries or the stalk even though some do. The greens are rich in vitamin A.
In my husband’s family, who have eaten the leaves for many years without a fatality, the recommended method is to cut the plant when it’s small, about 6 to 8 inches. This is done in early Spring.
- The leaves are removed from the stalk. Cut a lot because it cooks down. Put the leaves in a large pot and cover with water.
- Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Drain water.
- Repeat boiling and draining for three times.
- Chop onions and cook with bacon. Add Polk.
- Eat and enjoy
- Freeze what’s left and enjoy this healthy green when the Polk is gone.
Anyone else have a favorite green they forage and eat?