Period Pot Liquor (Pot Likker)

donna

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#1
pot-liquor.jpg

photo credit: https://www.bluewatersmtnl.com/pot-liquor/

Collards, okra, black-eyed peas, benne seeds, watermelon, and eggplant were among the foods brought by Africans to America in the 1700s. "Pot liquor is the liquid left after cooking collards or other greens." The slaves stretched this broth by adding the pot liquor left over after cooking beans or meat and topping the mixture with cornmeal or flour dumplings. Pot liquor is enjoyed as a soup and can be accompanied with cornbread for dunking.

A recipe for pot liquor:

"Thoroughly wash two pounds of fresh greens, trim off the stalks, and immerse the leaves a few at a time in one and a half gallons of boiling water, to which has been added a quarter-pound piece of seasoning meat (ham hock or salt pork). Stir in one tablespoon of salt. Cover the pot and simmer for one hour or more, or until the greens are tender. As with cabbage or beans, additional seasonings such as onions and red pepper pods may be put into the pot. This amount of greens will boil down from a large mass to a more manageable amount--about enough to serve four people. After removing the greens, serve the liquid remaining in the pot as soup."

Recipe from: "Southern Foods" by John Egerton, New York, 1987.

Other information from "North Carolina's Soups and Stews" at http://ncmuseumofhistory.org/workshops/geography/soup.htm
 
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donna

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#2
Here is an old (about 150 years) Tennessee Recipe for Pot Likker Dumplings.

"You must have one large pot of turnip greens boiled with ham hocks. Start from scratch, with turnip greens fresh cut out of the patch and smoked hambone or hocks. Or use chopped turnip greens canned, simmered an hour with the ham, which should already be boiled tender. Mix 2 tablespoons minced onions (fresh, young ones with part of the green tops are best) into 1 1/2 cups unsifted cormeal. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Stir in enough boiling pot liquor from the greens to make a stiff dough.

When slightly cooled, mix in one egg thoroughly. Take this by spoonfuls and shape into small patties about 1/2 inch thick. Lay them gently on top of the simmering greens. Cover and simmer 10 or 15 minutes until done."

From: "Mountain Makin's in the Smokies", published by The Great Smoky Mountains Natural History Association, 1957.
 

donna

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#5
From RobertP from his great grandmother's memoirs. She was 10-14 years old during Civil War years in Louisiana. A great story about pot licker.

"Old Granny Liz (a slave) had a cabin larger than the average. When the women went to the fields they deposited their children with Granny whose duty it was to see that no harm came to them and that they were well fed. The meals were cooked in Mother's kitchen and taken to Granny's by the older children. She would put the butter milk in an enormous flat pan, crumble egg bread in it and allow it to sit an hour or so. Then the children old enough to eat alone would gather about the pan like hungry puppies. There were pot licker, rich and greasy and other things to make strong bodies."

"One little negro though was puny in spite of all that could be done. He was the baby of one of the house maids and therefore had not been in the care of Old Granny. Liz . House servants did not associate with field hands as a rule. Mother did all she could and then sent to town for a doctor. He seemed unable to help the child back to strength. The news got to Granny Liz. She came hobbling to Mother's door and asked that she be allowed to treat the child since the doctor had given it up. But she would not take it unless it were given entirely into her charge. Mother was dubious for Granny was very old and very near savagery, Indian savagery partly. She talked to the child's mother and they agreed that it was best but there was an agreement that Granny would promise not to do anything harmful to the child to affect a cure. Every day Mother went all the way to Granny Liz's to make sure that she kept her word. She was uneasy about the little negro. Those were happy days for me for I loved to go to Granny Liz's cabin. While Mother talked to her, I played with the little darkies or watched them "show out" for my benefit. Granny cured the baby and this is what she did. Every day, she bathed him in turnip green pot licker. We in the south cook turnip green by boiling for hours with a generous piece of salt pork. This gave a liquor very rich in oil and minerals. His diet was the same as his bath except that she allowed the liquor to cool so that she could skim the grease from the top. Then she reheated it and fed it many times a day. Soon he could take a few crumbs of corn bread in the soup. A little later some of the grease and much bread. Again, i am reminded of the great discoveries of modern dieticians."

Thanks to RobertP for sending this story to me to post.
 
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#15
Pot likker. I like to drink it straight out of the pot--when no one is looking because it some times dribbles down my chin. :giggle:

I think collards make the best pot likker even though (Florida grown) mustards are my favorite green. I had never actually thought of using pot likker as soup base. For dipping cornbread in, yes (and yum!), but not for a soup base.
 
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#20
Not my cuppa tea, but if you must cook veggies half to death in lots of liquid, nearly all the vitamins and minerals will be in the liquid. The pot likker/liquor therefore should be used, because it has more food value than the cooked greens!

Personally, I like my greens very lightly steamed with minimal liquid, or briefly stir-fried. I don't think I'd do well with Southern cooking!
 

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