25 January 2016

Purslane, the Tasty and Succulent Weed

Purslane in all its glory on my deck.

Although the Upper Great Lakes escaped last weekend's behemoth snow fall, it's snowing now and just below freezing, which means whatever accumulation we get will be heavy. In other words, not much fun to shovel tomorrow.

So we're staying indoors as much as possible. Yesterday I rearranged my gardening books, moving them from the pantry - I know, strange place - to a tall bookcase in the living room. I take pleasure in knowing that they are easier to access and that in a month or so, I will be starting a few seeds indoors.

As I pored over my gardening looks, I was reminded that last summer a grower friend challenged me to do something with purslane, a weed that has culinary uses as a salad enhancement and a soup thickener.

It reminds me of sedum, the kind that makes a dandy ground cover in your garden.

But it's widely used for cooking in North Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia. Purslane is crisp but feels tender when you bite into it and a bit citrusy when you taste it.

I tossed some raw purslane into my salad and it was not unpleasant. I think I will pass on the soup thickening, however.  I did find it an interesting addition to egg salad, imparting a hint of lemon and a touch of crispness, not unlike thinly-sliced celery.

Some people add purslane to stir fries. That's something I might try next summer.

Purslane can be foraged. In fact, it grows all over the world. I've seen it erupting out of sidewalk cracks. You can read more right here.

No doubt I'll run across some purslane six months from now. Meanwhile, I'm going to immerse myself in seed catalogs and dream away the rest of January.

2 comments:

Goody said...

I grew purslane in a pot last year. I didn't expect my boys to really like it, but soon it was being thrown into sandwiches for a bit of crunch almost like bean sprouts. It is easy to grow, and it did well spring through late fall. I know it can be foraged, but I live in Omaha and I really don't want to eat anything that's been growing in our sidewalk cracks.

I hadn't planned to grow it again this year, but a packet of seeds ended up in our basket at the garden centre (contrary to his assertion that it leapt in, I believe the eleven year old might have had something to do with it).

If you try growing it, just scatter the seeds lightly atop the soil and gently press them in. They need to be exposed to sunlight to germinate, but once they're going almost nothing will kill it. Used as a cutting lettuce it will keep growing back with little care more than the occasional watering.

I'm so very ready for spring.

M.D. Johns said...

Thank you! Good to know.