Here’s an unusual edible green offering from the vegetable garden. Also available free of charge from the Earth, but often known as an undesirable weed when found in this form.
(On a personal note, I can remember purslane being one of the encroaching weeds that was quick to invade the worn down areas of a much used athletic field.)
So, is purslane friend or foe?
In its edible form, purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is a nutritious green with a rather crunchy texture similar to spinach. The fragrance is said to be somewhat lemony.
When eaten in this natural raw form, purslane can be mixed into salads, used like lettuce on sandwiches, or added to a fresh veggie tray with other finger foods like baby carrots or sliced celery.
Purslane can also be chopped and added into soups or stir fried with other fresh vegetables and seasonings.
In terms of nutrition, purslane is a good source of Vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium. It also has more Vitamin E than spinach and more beta carotene than carrots.
Amazingly enough, this humble plant is even a good source of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid. The omega-3 fatty acids are believed to be helpful in combating the onset of heart disease and cancer.
So with all this potential goodness available from purslane, we want to be sure we get the proper plant if we plan to add this green to our diet.
And yes, purslane can often be found growing wild in your lawn or in open pasture fields. But this is where the possible “foe” side of our argument comes in.
We DO NOT ever recommend harvesting and eating plants gathered from the wild unless you are absolutely sure you know what you are getting. The reason being that purslane has a “look-alike” cousin that can be poisonous when consumed!
Our advice is that if you do want to try adding fresh purslane into your diet, you should consider buying seeds from a reliable source so that you can grow your own in your home vegetable garden.
The Burpee Seed Company is a trusted and long time supplier of quality seed and plant products.