Tastebud: Potlikker

collard greens

A popular Southern treat, potlikker is the tasty green liquid that remains in the pot after boiling collard, mustard, or turnip greens. As the leaves simmer, vitamins and minerals seep into the cooking water, creating a fortified sipper that could fetch a fortune at a juice bar for the Yankee elite. (But the health food–phobic need not fret: Southern cooks commonly season their potlikker with bacon or pork fat.) Like many Southern staples, potlikker was once the slave owner’s refuse and the slave’s riches: after serving cooked greens to their masters, slave cooks would bottle the leftover, nutrient-rich liquid for their own families’ meals.

Today potlikker is a source of pride for all Southerners: when the New York Times mistakenly misspelled the food as “pot likker” in 1982, Georgia’s Lieutenant Governor Zell Miller mailed in an indignant response. Potlikker also inspired the name of the Southern Foodways Alliance’s annual film festival, where potlikker shooters are often on the menu. Beard House diners got a taste of the stuff (paired with hog jowl, maple syrup, and collards) at the IQUE barbecue team’s dinner this fall.

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