Saturday, 2 April 2016

Don't Pull That Weed

This is an old post from an old blog but I like it so I want it here.

Stop throwing this plant in your compost bin!

This my dear friends is no weed. Well... certainly no more of a weed than a corn plant found in a pepper field. Commonly known as pig weed, little hogweed, duck weed, fat weed, pursley, or as I'd heard it purslane, the proper name for this wild creeping plant is portulaca oleracea.

Purslane is an annual that thrives in rich soils. Its leaves are smooth, thick and paddle-shaped. Depending on the variety, the leaves might grow from 1/2 - 2" long. Wild purslane grows along the ground and forms flat, circular mats up to 16" across. Its round, thick stems spread out from the center and are often reddish at the base.

Purslane is full of great things. Omega3s, Vitamin C, lots of Vitamin A, B-complex including riboflavin, pyridoxine, and niacin, as well as carotenoids, and trace minerals like iron, magnesium, and calcium. It's not just that it has these things, it has lots of each. Purslane provides six times more vitamin E than spinach, seven times more beta carotene than carrots, and 15 times more ALA than found in most iceberg lettuce. On top of the ALA, the other omega3s include EPA & DHA mostly found in water plants and animals, especially oily fish like anchovies (and who wants to eat anchovies? blegh).

I've just found out this is edible but sites I've read say purslane is somewhat crunchy and has a slight lemony taste. Some people say it's like watercress or spinach, and it can substitute for spinach in many recipes. Young, raw leaves and stems are tender and are good in salads and sandwiches. They can also be lightly steamed or stir-fried. Purslane’s high level of pectin (known to lower cholesterol) thickens soups and stews. For 45 ways to eat purslane Check Out This Site

To get some of this yummy action just go find some purslane and pick the young tender stems and leaves. The stems are just as edible and picking off all those tiny leaves would be ridiculous. When you get them to the kitchen wash them at least twice in cold water to get all the dirt off. A splash of vinegar in the water will help rinse of any residues.

If you want to pick some of the bigger leave to dip in stuff, the thicker stems are tougher and would taste better after being cooked. Because it is susceptible to frost, purslane doesn't grow until the ground is fairly warm so don't bother looking in early spring.

If you can't find purslane growing wild, many garden plant companies sell seeds for golden purslane (Portulaca sativa) or garden purslane (Portulaca oleracea). These varieties grow upright rather than horizontal and have larger leaves than wild purslane. They also are more tender and easier to harvest and clean.

Now that's everything you need to know about this awesome food.

Tell me what your favourite edible "weed" is.

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