Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Poke, and Redbud Jelly; or, How to Make Use of a Cold, Rainy Evening

It rained all day. Just what we needed, really, because it's been so dry it was beginning to be worrying. The rain settled in the plants that I transplanted in the flowerbeds last night. You know the ones--they seed themselves in the cracks of the sidewalks and other unlikely places and then sit there waiting for you or me to come along and save their little lives. So a perennial salvia, coreopsis, and a few others are now safe in their new homes. (And that plant I dug up on the roadside and brought home is called Dutchman's Breeches--it is also snug in its new place. I found its name accidentally today online and immediately recognized its leaves.)


Last week on the way home I spotted a beautiful sight--a big patch of pokeweed growing just off the road on the site where a house trailer once was located. I meant to stop and pick some but every evening on the way home from work I'd forget until I was too far past the patch to go back.


It was raining and cold on my way home and I remembered! My shoes got muddy, my pants got streaked with mud, but I have two quart bags of poke in the freezer. A person needs to be careful when preparing poke and I'm not going to give instructions here. It can be poisonous of not properly prepared. If you want to learn to cook poke, consult a reliable wild foods cookbook. There is some good advice on cooking poke on this website.


I had another project on hold and it was a good night to finish it too. Remember the redbud jelly I wanted to make? Time ran out on me the weekend we collected the flowers. I completed the steeping process, then strained and froze the resulting liquid. Now I had time to make the jelly.


I had a little more than two cups of the deep purple liquid from the flowers. After looking online for a recipe, I made mine this way: I added two tablespoons of lemon juice to the purple liquid along with one box of pectin. Then I brought the resulting mix to a boil, added 2 1/2 cups of sugar and brought to a full rolling boil for about 2 minutes. I removed the jelly from the stove and stirred and skimmed the whitish foam off the top for about 5 minutes. Then I poured the jelly into jars, and that it was done.




The jelly is beautiful! How does it taste? Very good actually. I believe it would taste even better made immediately into jelly after steeping the blossoms, but this jelly has a superb sweet-sour tang similar to red currant jelly. I think I will be making more of it next year because it's very good.

11 comments:

Deer Camp Diva said...

I never knew you could eat poke greens until a couple of years.

My next door neighbor, an older woman steeped in southern country wisdom, was always asking me if I ate poke greens. Weeks later we were driving back from town when she pointed out a weed in a ditch, explaining that it would have some nice poke greens shortly, suitable for picking.

I took a double take and laughed! All this time I thought a poke weed was this mysterious elusive plant. Here it was the that weed I grew up picking the berries off of and staining up everything with!

I had a good laugh and it brought back memories.

Glad to hear that the jelly came out well.

Granny Sue said...

Well, update on the jelly, Diva--it didn't set. It seemed to be set in the pan, but this morning it's completely runny. I'll see what happens over the next couple of days, but if it doesn't set up, I reckon it will just be pancake syrup! Which is okay too, but I wanted to see that beautiful purple-red on a biscuit.

bayouwoman said...

oh my goodness! Red bud jelly? I would LOVE to try some . . . to eat that is!!! Beautiful! I love using things around me, too! BW

Granny Sue said...

BW, this batch might have to be labeled Redbud Syrup! I'll try again next year though--the taste is definitely worth the little bit of effort involved.

Holly Hall said...

I had big plans to make some redbud jelly, but I realized I had made a mistake after seeping the blossoms in boiling water. I had left most of the little flower stems on the blossoms which gave the infusion a greenish look and taste--yuck! So, I dumped that mess out intending to start over, but by that time, most of the buds were wilting or dropping of of our trees, so it will just have to wait until next year. Oh well!

Granny Sue said...

That's the good thing about working with natural materials, Holly--there's always next year. I think mine would have tasted better if made immediately, but it was still delicious--even if runny!

And you know, at first it looked greenish, but after letting it steep a few hours, the color was deep and rich.

Farm Girl said...

I also made some redbud jelly and I used the recipe that you had linked on your blog. It turned out perfect. I also collected two gallon sized bags of flowers and froze them to make later. It has a very good flavor. I told my Mom about it and she also made some. Thank you so much for the link in your blog.
By the way, I found a recipe on line for jelly made form Queen Annes Lace flowers. Says it has a lovely wine color and is tasty. I'm waiting for the flowers to bloom later in the summer to try that one!

Robbyn said...

Oh man "poke sallet"! We always had a lot of poke growing on my grandparents' property but never knew when and how it was safe to eat. Glad I have time to spend tonight going back and reading the posts I've missed...I'll definatly keep the redbud jelly in mind, though I have yet to see a redbud down here in our neck of the swamp. Maybe a little further north, though :)

Granny Sue said...

Queen Anne's lace jelly? I'm with you on that one, Farm Girl! Sounds lovely. I used to make wine with the flowers of elderberry. I wonder if those would make jelly too. Let me know how the frozen redbuds work out.

Twisted Fencepost said...

Wish I had seen the post for red bud jelly sooner. I have two red bud trees in my yard and would love to try this.
But poke, that's a different story. I've never eaten it and the poisonous effect scares me away.

Anonymous said...

The Redbud is a short lived tree that is grown in Zones 4 – 9, and when we bought this property...trees for sale

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