Poplar Leaf Cooking

Have you ever gone camping but forgot to bring your cooking gear? Many other cultures don’t need equipment. In the States we may not have native banana leaves to wrap food for baking, but we do have poplar leaves that interlock, thus making a griddle type surface upon which you can cook thinly sliced meat or other raw food items.

When I first tried this method, the coals below the cooking bundle would die out due to lack of oxygen. I found that I needed to shift the leaf platform occasionally to other hot spots to maintain the needed heat. Now, I place small parallel sticks underneath to allow air flow, thus keeping the embers alive. My rule of thumb for cooking is to cook about two thirds through the first side of meat, then flip it over to the other side on a new set of interlocked leaves to finish cooking.

In North Carolina the Tulip Poplar blossoms begin to appear in May. Each region is different, so if you don’t see the blossoms in the trees, look on the ground as they may have finished their bloom. The most distinctive identifier of this tree is the four lobed leaves. So, get cookin’ and have fun!

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