Purslane. Yes, it is mainly maligned as a weed, but have you tried it yet? Starting early in June, our veganic garden produces bushels full of this deep, green superfood. I do not plant it, and many gardeners groan when they see it, but I am delighted. It is nutritious, delicious, it self-seeds, and it grows like a weed. (This is good.)
When I first discovered this prize in my plot, I had no idea what it was. The tiny sprouts looked a bit like the flowering portulaca that my mom always planted in her rock gardens, those vibrant tropical-colored blooms, so I let it grow. It soon became clear that it was something else, but what? The leaves were plump and juicy, succulent, enticing. Some research revealed that it was indeed portulaca, though not the kind I expected, and it was edible, so I ate it.
I started with just a few leaves sprinkled in a salad. Then a few sprigs of leaves and smaller stems, rinsed and drizzled with Dijon dressing. Crisp, tangy, yum. Still, I could not keep up with the massive amount of purslane growing in our garden.
Fast-forward two years, to last summer. Emma was 6 years old, a lovely little girl who could be a royal opera diva about eating anything green (yuck-o-rama), so when I came home from the garden one day with an armload of purslane, I knew it would set off a scene from Carmen, or at least a long and drawn out “maaaah-om,” but I had a plan.
I removed the roots, rinsed off the dirt, and filled our blender with banana, lime juice, apple cider, maple syrup, and several cups of purslane, smaller stems and leaves. Eureka! She guzzled this green smoothie down and asked for more. When I told her we could make purslane popsicles, she was hopping-up-and-down happy. She seemed to appreciate this breakthrough as much as I did. Finally, mom knew how to prepare greens.
Now seven, Emma takes green smoothie to school and summer camp in her snack thermos, or she enjoys a green “Groovy pop” after school. We play with the recipe, but this is one of our favorites.
Purslane smoothie and Groovy pops
- 1.5 cups frozen pureed purslane with lemon or lime juice (see tips below)
- 1 or 2 bananas
- 1 cup organic applesauce (no sugar)
- ¼ cup 100% maple syrup
- 1 shamrock (wood sorrel, lemon grass), 1 white clover flower, or other garnish
Blend until smooth. Pour. Garnish with a shamrock or a clover flower (both are edible), or whatever you like. Enjoy. Pour the leftover smoothie into Groovy pop molds (BPA-free, Tovolo) and freeze for several hours.
Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is a nutrient-dense superfood, loaded with vitamins A, C, potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, and many other nutrients. Purslane is mucilaginous, so it sooths the stomach and aids digestion, and it is diuretic. It also creates a notable energy boost. Add this powerful plant to your diet and see for yourself. Purslane makes me feel like flying.
~Before you eat it, make sure you have purslane and not its poisonous look-a-like, spurge. Break the stem. If the juice inside is sappy milky white, it is not purslane. (The white sap of spurge is toxic. Do not touch it.)
~Purslane leaves are plump and shiny, rounded at the end, not pointed, and they whorl and cluster around tiny yellow flower buds at the end of each stem. Stems are round, smooth, green or reddish in color, with smaller stems branching out and upward from larger stems that trail close to the ground. The seeds, tiny, round, and black, are contained in round pointed seedpods.
~Pick purslane in the early morning, or after a rain, when the leaves are plump and the stems are bendy rather than woody.
~Purslane does not keep well in the refrigerator, so eat it soon after picking, or freeze it.
~To freeze it, puree purslane with some lime or lemon juice, to keep it from oxidizing and turning brown. Use about ½ cup of juice per 5- or 7-cup blender full of purslane. If needed, add up to 1 cup of spring water to help it break down. Pour the puree into 2-cup plastic containers (not quite filled, to leave room for expansion). Squeeze out any air by pressing down on the lid, and freeze.
~Purslane season is right around the corner here in the Northeast USA. Watch for it!
© Copyright 2011, Laura J. Rongé, Ciel Bleu Media, healthiveg.com. All rights reserved for all content on this site, including text and photos.
Disclaimer—The articles here are not intended as medical, nutritional, or other professional advice. The ideas presented are my own, unless otherwise noted, and are for informational purposes only. Please use this information with discretion.