You probably haven’t looked at the plants growing in the cement cracks in your sidewalk and immediately considered adding them to your next salad. That could be a mistake.
Purslane, Food or Weed?
Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is a plant grown all over the world for its excellent eating qualities. This may come as a surprise to many as it is much better known as a common garden weed. This is a shame and people everywhere should be making better use of this very common plant that no doubt grows around their home throughout the summer months.
Purslane’s leaves are thick, a little mucilaginous, and have a slightly peppery, sour and salty taste. The leaves, tender stems and even the plant’s flowers are all edible. Not only that but the plant is a bit of a nutritional powerhouse. Purslane provides a high level of calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins (A, B, C) when made part of the diet. It is truly a marvelous plant and if you are into your wild foods, it is one you should know.
How to Eat PurslaneMany people eat purslane raw and you can add the plant to almost any kind of salad for a little salty, pepper zing. I’ll admit though that I think it is best eaten after being cooked in someway. This removes the oxalic acid present in the leaves and improves both texture and flavour (to my palate anyway). I was going to add some recipes here but Coltilde over at cnz.to has already done a lot of the hard work for us and has a collection of 45 recipes on her website. I personally like the leaves best when sauteed with a mix of other greens like beet and dandelion leaves.
How to Forage Purslane
I mentioned above just how easy it was to find purslane. The only real consideration is where you would be happy collecting your next meal from. I avoid well used public paths and roads for what I feel are obvious reasons. Also, I do it just because I can. When a plant grows everywhere why even take risks? I collect it from what I feel are more healthy environments, like my back yard!
The only real look alike to purslane is spurge or petty spurge which is poisonous (but great for removing sunspots). It is easy to tell the two plants apart fortunately. Simply break the stem, if white sap comes out you know you have spurge. If no sap or a clear liquid (mostly water) comes out then you are good to go, you have found purslane. Happy foraging!