3 Herb Mamas

Wednesday’s Weeds: PURSLANE

on June 18, 2014

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PURSLANE (Portulaca oleracea)

Purslane is the nutritional powerhouse that is a crunchy delight to eat and is a common food in Europe, especially the Mediterranean area, but sadly ignored in the U.S. Most people who attend my weed walks recognize the plant from weeding it out of their gardens and flower beds but few have tasted it. Nutritionally, this wild green is “pumping iron” with more than twice as many omega-3’s as kale and possibly more than any other green analyzed. Ditto for vitamin E, and watch out Popeye, this delicious wild edible has more iron than spinach. It also contains vitamins A and C, calcium, and phosphorus.

Purslane loves hot weather and stands up to drought like a champ. A 100+ degree day like we have forecast for our area today will find this lovely low-growing green cool as a cucumber and a welcome addition to our cold salads buffet on the dinner table tonight. The stems of Purslane are generally reddish and look somewhat like a network of pipes or tubes. The stems are just as delicious as the leaves and both are juicy, sweet and crunchy. This is a succulent plant with thick leaves and stems, which is one of the reasons it can retain moisture during dry spells and heat waves.

The flowers on Purslane are tiny (less than 1/4 inch) and yellow and each individual blossom lasts just one day. They eventually produce a small pod of shiny black seeds, which you can collect to spread into other dry, sunny areas to use as an edible ground cover.

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Purslane flower

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Purslane seeds

Since we are experimenting with many new permaculture techniques in order to deal with climate changes in our area, I’ve been observing the way that nature arranges plants into “guilds”, or mutually beneficial groupings, and following her lead. When I planted new strawberry beds this spring I included some Borage seedlings, which are said to improve plant vigor, disease-resistance and flavor in strawberries (and tomatoes). There were still bare spaces between the new plants and I planned to mulch after a few weeks. But before I did so Purslane began to pop up in the openings. It makes a lovely ground cover/living mulch that is also delicious and nutritious. In permaculture an important principle is that every plant must serve multiple functions for the ecosystem to thrive.

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Happy plant guild of Purslane, Borage, Strawberries & Lamb’s Quarters

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Newly planted permaculture bed filling in with Strawberries, Borage & Purslane

Purslane can be enjoyed in salads, cooked in a stir-fry, steamed or added to other cooked dishes. The older stems can be pickled just as you would green beans or cucumbers. The tiny black seeds are nutritious as well and can be added to baked good or ground into a flour.  If you are feeling adventurous you can try a traditional Mexican dish called Verdolagas con Queso, a sort of Purslane soft taco. Simply saute (some people steam the Purslane first) Purslane with Garlic, onion, chopped tomatoes and chilies. Add some eggs and scramble a bit along with some crumbled salty white cheese like feta or queso blanco. Fold into a warm tortilla and serve. Yes, it’s on the evening menu for us!

            Munch! Munch! ~Leenie


One response to “Wednesday’s Weeds: PURSLANE

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