Tennessee Mountain Stories

Goin’ Sallet Huntin’ by Callie Melton

 The following is taken from an article written by Callie Melton for The Standing Stone Dispatch in the early 1980’s.  I present it verbatim

Going sallet hunting in the Spring was a necessity even more important than making soap.  The holed-up cabbage, turnips and Fed Allreds had long been used up… so had the kraut and the smoked apples.  We were tired of leather britches.  Bacon, hominy, pone bread, Irish potatoes and sweet potatoes were ood to fill an empty belly, but did nothing to satisfy that craving for a mess of something fresh.  So when the first touch of green appeared in the woods and fields, we knew it was time to go sallet hunting. 

The women would take their baskets and knives and make an occasion of it, for it was rare indeed for the women to be away from the house like this.  They would start out right after breakfast, and would wander all through the nearby fields and woods until they got their baskets full.

They picked blackberry brier leaves, rabbit lettuce, pok weed shoots, broad leaf plantin, narrow leaf plantin, spotted dock, sour dock, creasy, violet leaves, lamb’s quarter, sheep sorrel, pepper grass and dandelions.  You picked only the very young tender leaves, and just the right amount of each kind o plant.  You couldn’t pick too much sheep sorrel or dock, or pepper grass for their flavors were so strong that they would spoil the whole mess.  When you got home, you picked over your sallet, washed it seven times under running water, and then you put it on to par-boil.  In the meantime you had put a good-sized hunk of smoked hog jaw in the pot and put it over the fire to cook… you had to cook your meat almost done before you put in your sallet.  After you sallet had parboiled for a few minutes, you drained off the water, then put the sallet in the pot with the hog jaw to finish cooking. 

Cooked Greens.jpg

The pot simmered over the coals until the sallet was tender.  The liquid in the pot was pot likker, and it was saved for the youngest and the oldest in the family… most usually there were three generations in every household.  You would put a big piece of pone bread in a bowl and pour some of the pot likker over it, then feed it to the baby.  Grandpa and Grandma would do the same way with theirs, except they would cut up an onion in their bowls.  If you didn’t have scallions in the garden, you just went out and hunted wild onions… sallet was’t sallet without an onion to go with it.