Diverse and Popular Purslane
Purslane was loved by English medieval cooks and gardeners; the ancient Greeks would make a bread flour from purslane seeds. They would pickle the fleshy stems.
Today, Greek country cooks serve purslane as a salad herb, either alone or with other wild greens. Mexicans enjoy purslane for its hot, peppery bite when cooked. They enjoy it with eggs (mainly omelets) and pork. Chinese cooks value purslane for its sharp flavor and slightly slippery presence with noodles.
Purslane (Portulaca oleraceae), is a potherb, an annual succulent, a green, and to many, a weed. But it's been found to be a source of Vitamin A, C and E, plus contains an omega-3 fatty acid. And great for calorie counters, as it contains only about 15 calories per serving!
While you can eat the wild purslane you may find in garden of flower beds, you should be careful that it has not been exposed to chemicals. The cultivated varieties are larger and more tender.
To grow purslane yourself, you'll need a sunny location with good drainage. If you live in an area frequented by drought, or that is naturally very dry, you'll be pleased to learn that purlsane is drought tolerant.
You do want to plant purslane in a very good, fertile soil that has compost added to it for the juiciest stems and leaves. You can also grow purslane in pots or shallow wide containers and harvest it as needed, using mostly the top leaves and stems. Once you see blooms on the plant, it won't be as tender or as tasty. Purslane tastes best when it's young and tender.
Medieval herbals describe purslane as "cold," meaning that it was considered a cure for a "burning" (or malfunctioning) heart and liver.
Greeks call purslane a "blood-cleansing" herb.
In Mexico, purslane is considered good for diabetics.
Recent research has confirmed that purslane is one of the best vegetable sources of omega-3 fatty acids, as well as carotenes and vitamin C.
Culinary Uses for Purslane
- Purslane seeds can be added to soups, similar to the okra. You can also add it raw to salads. The crunchy tangy taste is really a great addition.
- Substitute purslane for the spinach in a Bacon Spinach Salad recipe. It's also great in any type of Greek salad that includes olive oil and feta cheese.
- You can substitute the succulent leaves for cucumbers in your favorite dill pickle recipe.
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