Power-Packed Purslane

Purslane is a tasty, easy-to-grow "weed," and a rich source of omega-3s.


| April/May 2005



Purslane

Purslane is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Photo by Rosiland Creasy

Common in our yards but little known in the North American kitchen, purslane is both delicious and exceptionally nutritious. Common purslane (Portulaca oleracea) — also known as duckweed, fatweed, pursley, pussley, verdolagas and wild portulaca — is the most frequently reported “weed” species in the world. It can grow anywhere that has at least a two-month growing season.

Until recently, most research on purslane has focused on its eradication. A frequently overlooked approach to controlling this weed is to eat it! Purslane is so surprisingly tasty, North Carolina market gardener Patryk Battle says, “I have rarely had anybody not buy purslane after they’ve tried it.”

Purslane is somewhat crunchy and has a slight lemony taste. Some people liken it to 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.

Battle also uses purslane in pesto. He throws basil and purslane (upper stems and all) into a blender or food processor, adds a small amount of olive oil, garlic, pine nuts and enough hot water to get a good consistency. Because it’s so juicy, purslane helps create a low-fat pesto without too much oil.

A Nutrient-Rich Weed

Purslane may be a common plant, but it is uncommonly good for you. It tops the list of plants high in vitamin E and an essential omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Purslane provides six times more vitamin E than spinach and seven times more beta carotene than carrots. It’s also rich in vitamin C, magnesium, riboflavin, potassium and phosphorus.

Omega-3s are a class of polyunsaturated essential fatty acids. Your body cannot manufacture essential fatty acids, so you must get them from food. Unfortunately, the typical American diet contains too few omega-3s, a shortage that is linked to a barrage of illnesses including heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

herbman22
7/24/2016 11:22:13 PM

"One cup of cooked purslane has 25 milligrams (20 percent of the recommended daily intake) of vitamin C." Doesn't vitamin C deteriorate through cooking?!? I'm at such a loss as to whether to good or eat raw. Cook = absorb better, Raw = no deterioration. Which gives you a higher net gain of nutritional value in your body??


kj
8/26/2015 5:36:38 AM

I was first introduced to Purslane in Italy where it was growing wild. The organic farm I was working at indicated we should cut some and add it to our salads. I did and fell in love with this "weed". Now home in Ct., I found some growing within the cracks of the library sidewalk. So I pulled some up, took it home and put it with it's roots into a glass of water. If it grows wild in a sandy soil, why do all articles say it needs rich soil. How can I plant this to come up next year? Love this stuff!


xena44
7/5/2015 7:23:59 PM

It's absolutely delicious. I usually just pluck it and eat while gardening but today I had to "house clean" so to speak and had a bunch of it. Lightly sautéed/steamed it w a little black salt. DELISH!!!! Organic, free and super good for me. Can't go wrong here!






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