Think of it as a weed, and you'll be missing out on one of the most nutritious greens on the planet. Purslane has more beta-carotene than spinach*, as well as high levels of magnesium and potassium. Historically it has been used as a remedy for arthritis and inflammation by European cultures. Chinese herbalists found similar benefits, using it in respiratory and circulatory function. Recently, it's been found that purslane has alpha linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 fatty acid. Researchers see evidence that these substances lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well as make the blood less likely to form clots. And, purslane has only 15 calories per 100 g portion.
World wide there are approximately 19 genera and approximately 500 species of purslane. The U.S. is home to 9 genera alone. It is most commonly found in the warm temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. Purslane exhibits the most species diversity in Western North America and South Africa, where it is likely to have originated. Part of the reason for its evolutionary success is that a single plant can produce up to 52,300 seeds. What's more, purslane seeds can survive for up to 30 years in undisturbed soil. Several ancient cultures have included purslane as a part of their cuisine, including those of Greece and Central America. Russians dry and can it for the winter. In Mexico it is called verdolaga and is a favorite comfort food. There, it is eaten in omelets, as a side dish, rolled in tortillas, or dropped by handfuls into soups and stews.
In recent years, purslane has become the darling of chefs, including New York's acclaimed Daniel Boulud of Daniel.
* Thomas M. Zennie and C. Dwayne Ogzewalla (1977) Ascorbic Acid and Vitamin A Content of Edible Wild Plants of Ohio and Kentucky Journal Economic Botany 31:76-79.
Best if used fresh. But, if you must store it, wrap purslane in a moist paper towel and store in a plastic bag in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator.
Wash. Remove larger stems. Some recipes use leaves only. Purslane can be substituted for spinach or wild greens in lasagnas, filled pastas, and Greek-style tarts.
It's coming into flower just now and it would be a bit thin and tasteless unless grown with some added water and nutrients. However it's got potential. Plenty of it about to transplant and feed up.
I think the main thing is people need to be able to recognise the plant when it does come up in the garden, and realise it has potential as a nutritional food.
Mine is currently coming up in nasty, dry locations so it's pretty incredible. I have to stop myself pulling out everyone I find as the "weed" concept is so deeply ingrained.
Just love this post Lissa. I've some leaves fattening up in a pot so very much looking forward to trying out some of these recipes.
Good stuff :)
Give some feedback if you make any of the dishes, won't you.
Is this pretty flowering type of portulaca edible?
I don't personally know the answer to that one Christa. Elaine may, or some research might bring up a bit more information for you.
Not personally sure. If it were mine, I'd give one leaf a whirl and see how it tastes. It's quite likely to be edible maybe palatable might be another thing. You'll never know if you don't try! There's no suggestion of toxicity with that family afaik.